Lessons from the Childcare Pros

Last month, I attended a teacher’s workshop focusing on helping preschool and daycare workers improve their teaching style and classroom setting. So much of what I learned can translate over to the nanny and parenting worlds.  Here are 2 highlights:

Teach kids to be their own critic (and not look to you for their sense of accomplishment)

When working on a project with a young child, help the child process how they feel about their work with questions like, “How do you think you did?”  and “What do you like about this?”  For example, if Susie is drawing a picture of a giraffe in a zoo ask her for her opinion about her work before offering your own. A natural tendency of parents and caregivers is to tell a child they did a good job (even if they possibly didn’t…)  Kids catch on to the fact that you are humoring them and would rather hear the (gentle) truth.  By asking the child how they feel about the work or what they like about it, you give them the opportunity to judge their work critically and look for things they think they succeeded on. If the child is very harsh towards themselves, this is a great opportunity to encourage practice and sticking with a project. You can also show affirmation by sharing what you like about it, For example, “I love how long and skinny you made the giraffe’s neck,” without oohing and aahing over ever detail. Through this, kids can learn to judge their own work and find their own sense of success.

Teach kids to care for themselves, others and objects

One educator shared her classroom rules which were very simple, direct and easy to remember. These would work both in a classroom setting and in the home. Here rules were:

Take care of ME

Take care of MY FRIENDS

Take care of THINGS

By teaching these 3 simple concepts, she noted that the children learned quickly to judge the appropriateness of their actions based on 3 concrete ideas.

For example, if a child is choosing to stand up on the kitchen table or try to sneak candy out of the candy jar, this is not a good example of “Taking care of ME”. The child can learn to make good decisions that will keep him/her safe and healthy.

If a child starts arguing with a friend or sibling to the point that harsh words or even physical actions occur, the child can be reminded that they are not following rule 2: Take care of MY FRIENDS (siblings).

If a child is choosing to throw a toy or grind playdoh into the carpeting, this is a failure to follow rule 3: Take care of THINGS.  We can remind our child that we want to take good care of the objects we have been given so that they stay in good condition and we can continue to play with them for a long time.

While a home setting might not have a need for “rules” listed on the wall or discussed on a regular basis, I enjoyed this simple starting point for easy explanations of what children should be paying attention to in order to be safe and get along well with others.


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