I used to teach nine and ten year olds. As a classroom teacher, not only was it my job to teach my students, but also I was responsible for conferencing with their parents. One of my favorite speeches to give parents was about slowing down and letting their kids do things on their own. This is, I believed, one of the most important things we can do for our kids. I didn’t realize until I had my own how difficult this task would be, even for me. It still is, however, one of the most important things we can do.
In today’s world we are always busy and always in a hurry. Life just moves faster now than it did when we were younger. I know that I like to plan my days out ahead of time so that I can schedule around nap times. I consider it a victory if I can get out of the house, to the library, the grocery store and to the craft supply shop all before lunch and nap. In order to do this, though, I am quickly feeding my 16-month-old breakfast, putting on his shoes and coat, packing my (or rather his) purse and heading out the door. I get home and it starts all over again, whipping his coat off, shoes off of his feet, plopping him in the high chair and trying to get lunch in him before he falls asleep in his food. I feel a sense of accomplishment once this is all completed, and then I realize that I forgot the most important task of the day- helping my little one learn and grow.
At 16 months old, my guy is learning to dress and undress himself. Trying to work zippers and hold spoons and follow my verbal directions. Not only is he pleased with himself when he is successful but he is also developing important fine motor skills, communication skills and social skills- not to mention the all-important basic tasks of daily life. I need to slow down. Maybe scratch one stop off of my errand list so that I could let him try and put his coat on or find his shoes and bring them to me, or practice feeding himself with a spoon.
Remember, I said I used to teach nine and ten year olds? Each year that I taught I had more and more students who didn’t know how to tie their shoes. They simply stated that their parents did it for them. We, as a society, have becomes so busy trying to check things off of our to do list and simplify processes. We, as parents, owe it to our kids to slow things down a little bit and focus on the important things our children need to know. Below is a list of simple learning opportunities that parents can easily incorporate into their daily schedules.
Early Learning (simple skills and motor skills)
Putting dishes away
Putting clothes away
Making their bed
Cleaning up their toys
Reading and Communication Skills
Following simple verbal directions
Reading written directions
Speaking on the telephone
Order at a restaurant
Helping to get groceries on a grocery list
Asking for assistance (at the library, or a store…)
Mathematics and Thinking Skills
Counting out number of snacks (two cookies)
Making change or paying with correct amount of money
Estimating cost (while shopping)
Helping to read signs while driving (speed limit, mile signs)
Dialing a phone number
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