Saturday 18 July 2015

Lessons I've Learned About Parenting

I am not a parent.  I am a teacher.  However my four years of doing the latter have given me some insights into preparing for the former.  So here are the things I've learned about parenting from being a teacher.  Please note: I am completely aware that this is easy to write but less easy to actually implement but hey...a girl can dream! 

Lesson 1 - Make "no" mean "no".
It is very easy to identify the children for which "no" often turns into "maybe" and then "yes" through a series of whinging, sulking and shouting.  At school, it only takes a few chances before they realise what the expectations are and they stop the silliness...mostly!  Don't give in. Fight it until it works. 

Lesson 2 - Read as often and as widely as possible. 
In my experience, the best readers are the best writers and the best mathematicians are often confident readers.  This is because children who are exposed to lots of books not only steal words, phrases and ideas but also absorb an awareness of how to entertain their reader so the quality of their writing is higher than their non-reader counterparts.  Also, much of how maths is assessed requires some form of reading; therefore the logically minded need good reading skills to show their maths ability.  

Lesson 3 - Give them money and a watch.
Generally, children are similar across the different skills in maths.  However, in telling the time and dealing with money, there is no way to predict how good they will be.  That is, until you know if they wear a watch and get pocket money.  Children who do, wherever they stand with maths, are very good at both.  

Lesson 4 - Play board games and card games and let them lose.
There are so many benefits to this.  Firstly, it keeps them off the screens for a short while.  Also, it encourages communication with other children and adults.  It is clear to see the children whose parents bubble wrap them and allow them to be the winner all the time.  Helping them to deal with losing early on in life will support them in their friendships and play.  Lastly, most card and board games require mental maths: number complements and bonds, sometimes fractions or percentages and everyday maths.  Monopoly is a personal favourite for encouraging a plethora of skills. 

Lesson 5 - Keep them safe online by talking to them. 
In parenthesis: don't just use filters.  In fact, consider not filtering content at all.  The best form of e-safety is communication; in school and at home.  Ask your children what they are doing online, go on their device with them, recap and review their history together and deal with any incidents as a team.  Make accessing the internet in a public part of the house the norm.  I have experienced first-hand the dangers of letting your children roam the world wide web with no supervision and have seen the shocked look on the faces of parents when presenting them with evidence of their children's less-than-angelic online activities of which they were completely unaware. 

Lesson 6 - Make rewards and sanctions appropriate.
This sounds obvious but you need to find what ticks for your child.  The carrot is generally better than the stick but don't threaten something that can't be followed through. Ensure sanctions really make them stop and think but ensure you don't take away things which are good for them or important.  

Lesson 7 - Know when you're being played! 
All parents think their children are angels.  I get that.  I'm sure I would too.  However, it's important to know when you're being taken for a ride.  Believe that teachers generally want the best for your child and accept that sometimes your child might be in the wrong.  

Lesson 8 - Take the TV out of the bedroom.
There's not much to say here except consider whether that screen needs to be the same place as where they sleep?  I've been concerned when parents have told me their child is struggling to sleep.  When I then hear phrases like, "he/she stays up all night watching the TV in bed," I struggle to sympathise.

Lesson 9 - Abide closely to the ratings on video games, movies, TV shows and websites.
Ratings are allocated for good reason.  Children learn their behaviour, good and bad, from things they experience.  Bad language is quickly picked up and repeated by children but it is the violence and numbing of emotions which have a less obvious but more profound effect on a child.

Lesson 10 - Share jokes, puns and quotes.
The children in my classes who have had the best general knowledge of the world are ones who get my funny comments and laugh along.  They have heard songs from throughout the decades and have watched classic films as well as the new ones.  Their families have a laugh and joke and they don't take themselves too seriously.

Teaching and parenting are completely different ball-games.  I'm sure you can be good at one and not at the other.  These lessons and more will stay with me as I continue in my teaching career and, perhaps, will come in useful one day a bit closer to home! 

1 comment:

  1. I think that this proves that when you do become a parent, you'll make a cracking good one. So much sense here - especially numbers 1 and 8.... and all the others too.


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