The other day we did a class activity concerning bullying in the classroom. We had a large heart drawn on a piece of paper divided in half. On the top the children wrote kind words we say to each other and on the bottom, we wrote unkind words. Later in circle we crumpled up the bottom half to show how the unkind words hurt people even after you say I’m sorry. Later on, I was thinking about how that applies as a parent talking to their children or as a teacher talking to children. Our days get so busy that we think about the consequences of the conversations we have with children. I think back to when my child was growing up and wonder about the times when he came to me to show me a drawing and I responded by giving it a brief glance, “saying great now put your shoes on so we can go”. We all get busy and there wasn’t anything really wrong with what was said but it was a moment missed. A moment to that could have been affirming to his accomplishment, a bonding moment, and a chance to boost his confidence and sense of self value. As a teacher I have seen parents take their child’s schoolwork and throw it away on their way out the door and feel sad because of all the lost opportunities they missed to talked, encourage, and show that child value in their achievements. Words said and not said will leave an impression on a growing child and it is important that we take a second to think about what impression we want to leave on them.
The first step is that picture. Instead of a brief glance stop for a moment and actually look at it. Look at the colors they used, the control they show with drawing lines, curves, and circles. Ask them a question or two. “What is happening in the picture?” “Why is the dog in the tree?” As you ask the questions watch the child’s face. The difference is remarkable! Their eyes light up, they smile, they start to show excitement about the time you are spending with them about what they drew. Your response means more than you know. Saying the words “I’m proud of you” teaches them that you value their work and accomplishments and that they should value them also. Saying “I believe in you” gives them the courage and the drive to continue trying when something is difficult to learn or accomplish. Saying “you can do it” teaches them that they have support in the things they attempt and are not alone. Using such verbal ques with your child make a huge difference in the way they view themselves. A few seconds look at something they did in school, ask questions about it, and engage in active conversation about it might seem like a little thing. It might take only a minute.
The repercussions will be fantastic!
Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher