Friday, July 3, 2015

6 Things I Learned from Preschool

(Maya's first official school photo!)

Last week, school wrapped up for the Summer holidays as the majority of students in Canada have off for the months of July and August. As the school year officially comes to a close, I am feeling very reflective about it since it was Maya's first season in preschool. 

Even though she started halfway through the year, in the past 4 months, attending school has really changed her personality positively. She is more focused, socialized, less afraid of strangers, and she loves school so much that she's always the last one to leave the classroom! Many parents opt to keep their children at home until they are nearly four or five, but since Maya was potty-trained already I decided to start her at the youngest possible age. Honestly, I have my limits as a parent and I really didn't know how or what to teach her.

I knew that she would learn so many new things at school, but I didn't realize that I would learn new things too! Observing the way the teachers were with her really taught me a few things....

1) If a child figures out something for themselves, they will remember it.
The first thing I learned from Maya's preschool is the simple fact that you need stop doing things for them. That it's okay (and necessary) to let them struggle a bit. On everything from working on a puzzle, tying their shoes, or putting a plate in the sink - they need to do it by themselves - to learn. Early on, the teacher told us that when children learn how problem-solve by themselves, they will remember. But if you swoop in and do it for them, they will forget. Husband-ji has a much harder time with this, as he likes to baby Maya!

2) The importance of "work".
Letting your child work on a project, or better yet giving them a task to do, makes them feel purposeful and also helps improve their focus. Everything from sweeping, to washing dishes, or watering the plants, are things that make children happy to help. It gives them a sense of responsibility and pride. By doing these tasks at school, Maya has been eager to help me at home with all of my chores - so much that she ignores her toys and instead finds it more interesting to "help me" with my daily chores!

(A chore we do - giving her toys "a bath"!)

3) Unsupervised play time.
The biggest thing that the school has taught me is the importance of unsupervised play time. The teachers taught me to stop hovering. Helicopter parenting is a disease in our internet generation, where many parents feel like the boogeyman is out to get their child, which in turn makes parents hover and micromanage their children and their play time. The reality is that kids learn more, and they have more fun when parents aren't hovering over them and managing their every move. The school has taught me the importance of setting limits and then giving my daughter complete freedom within those limits - ie. it's totally okay to sit down on the playground bench instead of standing right next to my daughter!

4) Respectful listening.
So many times parents are in a rush that we talk over our children and don't listen to them. As parents, we think we know our children and we think we are somehow magical mind readers. The biggest thing I have learned at school is from the way the teachers talk and listen to the children. The teacher will look Maya in the eye and ask her a question and wait for her to respond - she will not interrupt her. It gives the children a sense of mutual respect and a chance to use their voice and speak up. It creates trust.

5) Learning from other children.
Maya is in a mixed age class with children ranging from age 2.5 - 6 years old. A lot of the older children mentor her and have taught her so many things. Before school, she was scared of older children. Now she looks up to them and wants to do everything that they are doing!

6) Kids thrive on structure.
When we were phasing Maya into school, they wanted her to come every day so that she could get used to her new schedule. It was easier for her to get into her routine when her day was more structured, and she looked forward to it so much that she was quite disappointed that she didn't have school on the weekends! Of course, we still do some impromptu fun activities, but overall the day in more structured to her natural rhythms.


So many of these things can also apply to adults as well - the concepts of having purposeful work, unsupervised problem solving, learning from older "big kids", and the importance of respectful listening.

I think I may have learned more than my daughter, and she's the one in school! Ha ha!

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Dear readers, if you have children, what are the important lessons that you learned from their schools?

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1 comment

  1. Hi Alex ..
    Good Morning (in India its 9 30 AM )
    yes my son is now 4 year and he is in Jr KG ...
    and u r correct .. i also learn how to teach /focus on kids ... and i learn dat only book knowledge is not enough ... even we can teach our children book knowlege with fun .. all things we can teach which are around us .. and kids brain are so powerfull ..they can learn everything if we communicate with them in market ,in park, in train in airoplane .... in my son school ..they pick one topic and they give some home task to us to communicate with them , school call us and tell how can u teach /learn ur kid at home ..
    2. second thing i learn from scholl dat if i want dat my kid give some time to studies ..we mother and father should also study something ..it can be reading magezine or newspaper ...

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