One of the special learning centers I enjoy children rotating through in the classroom is the art center. A fresh white sheet of paper stretched and clamped on an easel or laid out on a table is just waiting to be drawn, colored or painted on by the hand of a child. The blank easel page waits for the artist’s touch. This is the way it is with our children’s lives.
The drawing and painting on the easel of a child’s life is done at home. Our homes provide a place of refuge, security, peace and where we can let down and sense we are loved and accepted for who we are. You have heard the expression “Home is where the heart is.” This expression means so much to a child’s growth, development and life. A child’s school and teachers help to draw and paint on the easel of a child’s life. Parents, grandparents, family, teachers are all part of the paint brush and palette in a child’s life. In focusing in on our homes and our roles as parents, grandparents and family, how can a home prepare a child emotionally, learn new skills appropriate for their age, learn rules of discipline which lead to a well-adjusted life and respect for others, and for children to use and recognize their gifts and talents.

  1. Gifts and Talents: What better environment can a child realize that they have certain gifts, talents, unique personalities than in the safety and love of their families and homes. Celebrating the life of your child is so very important. Set aside special days within your home to spend time one on one with your child. You don’t have to wait until their birthdays. Stay in tune to what your child likes to do such as drawing, reading, music, building with blocks, Legos, observing the world through the eyes of science, playing with mud pies, a tendency toward certain sports and games. Spend time with your child at home on the couch, in the kitchen, bedroom, giving bubbly, sudsy nightly baths for your child to blow bubbles and laugh in glee. They are little people, whose young lives can be molded within the home.
  2. Emotionally: Children are moldable and bendable by the words we say to them. Children need clear lines of rules and boundaries, but yet they need words of encouragement in order to learn, grow, and just believe and know how special they are. I have mentioned this before but another art center I love to spend time in the classroom with children is the Play-Doh Center because we can mold, roll, pat Play-Doh into different animals such as frogs, snakes, birds and bird eggs, cookies, cakes, etc. Play-Doh is just plain old fun. Like Play-Doh, children’s lives can be shaped into objects they don’t desire to be or into objects that radiate like the bright colors of Play-Doh by the words, actions and time we spend with our children. The home is the perfect environment where words of encouragement and time spent with your children are the essential building blocks in their adjustment, well-being and good self-esteem. Also, getting off the very busy routine at home and letting your child or children just unwind is very important for your child. Free play is so important in the development steps of a child. It is voluntary, spontaneous, open-ended play with no wrong or right answers. Home provides a safe haven to develop a good emotional foundation.
  3. Learning New Skills: There are so many readiness and academic lessons to be learned at home through household chores that truthfully aid your child’s developmental learning. Sorting laundry into piles like the family’s dirty or clean clothes, they can sort what belongs to mom, dad, brother, or sister. Sorting silverware is to take time to set the table for a family meal. Children have to count and remember how many family members to set the table for, which is one-to-one correspondence. In the kitchen, have your children read food labels by looking at the pictures on the jars or cans. Measurement of quantities, fractions and comparison of sizes can be taught as children help mom or dad in the kitchen. Social skills can be taught as you interact with your child. Too, role playing is an excellent way to teach your child the wrong and right way. Discovery skills in science can be taught by having your child observe his/her surroundings. Reading together a favorite book is an excellent way to wind down the day while at the same time teaching your child new words and concepts.
  4. Discipline: As a parent it is our responsibility to discipline our children. Home provides the environment in helping a child learn to get along with his/her family as well as his/her friends. Children are born with the desire for we parents or caregivers to set boundaries for their health and safety. We have rules for driving on the road, being careful, as well as respecting the lives of others. As I tell my young students in the classroom, I set up rules for you to follow because I do care and love you. With children they understand a few simple rules. Rules differ for each family according to their needs and lifestyles as well as cultures. Children remember and follow the rules you consistently set down and expect them to follow. When discipline and rules are set at home it is important for, we parents to be in keeping and knowing the child’s age and abilities. Consequences of disobedience should be appropriate and carried out immediately with a child. One truth that I have always used with my students and own child is that “little obedience is no obedience.” When parents call their children to come in and eat dinner or clean their room, if they are slow to come or say wait and find other things to do instead of minding their parents, they are not minding their authority. It is so important for children to have boundaries and routines in order to be healthy and happy physically as well as emotionally and mentally.
    Let’s paint a beautiful Godly rainbow on the easel of our child’s life!

Beth Pinyerd has taught many years in the early childhood classroom. She has a master’s degree in early childhood education.