By Beth Pinyerd
Happy Thanksgiving Eve! ‘Tis the day before Thanksgiving! The holidays bring families together in a wonderful way.
It gives parents and grandparents close time and down time to be with children and grandchildren. Children from infants, toddlers and older preschoolers observe everything as they take the whole world in! They are observing and taking all in what we adults do! We are their first teachers and young children model and copy our actions in order to learn.
Recently, my brother sent me a picture of his grandson wearing his daddy’s size-15 shoes! This little toddler was standing tall and looked so proud to be wearing his daddy’s shoes.
I am sure many of you have seen your toddler daughters love to adorn themselves with mama’s jewelry or makeup. What a joy and a complimentary reflection of how young children want to be like mama and daddy.
In early childhood, play is a child’s work. After teaching readiness lessons to young children, free play is part of developmental and social learning.
A “happy memory” for me as a teacher was when I took my class of first graders out for play. I heard a group of my little first graders pretending “school.” I quietly overheard from them a familiar lesson in playing school. They were modeling their first-grade teacher, good and bad, as they conducted their pretend first-grade classroom. Truly, this was an eye opener for me to know just how much “little folks” observe. It was a very good teacher evaluation.
Children learn acceptable and unacceptable behavior by watching we adults. They are like little sponges! We preschool teachers and parents have to be so careful in what we say and do because we have a little audience who are watching us.
How can we model life skills for our younger children?
Take time to truly listen. We have so many technology distractions such as televisions, cell phones, computers, videos, etc. Our children need our undivided attention during certain periods of time. The holidays’ flexible schedules offer us more time to truly focus in on our young children.
Have a good work ethic. My heart melts as a teacher when my little 3-year-old class in Community Bible Study and MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, bend down and help us sweep, pass out snacks and pick up their toys with very little direction or instruction. They are modeling what they have learned at home. Include your preschoolers in home chores.
Model good manners. Again, young children are looking to see how we adults treat other people. This helps in developing good social skills when you show your preschoolers how to greet other people of all ages, help people, like opening the door for them and helping them carry packages that might be heavy.
One memory that this teacher still ponders in my heart is when I was bending over to grade spelling tests of my first grade class. Well, I fell over on the floor after tripping over a chair. I was so embarrassed to fall in front of my students. Before I could get up, one of my little boys offered his arm for me to lean on as I got back up.
My whole class then supported me back to my feet. I lessened the tension of the class by laughing and then we all laughed. These little people checked on me all day long!
Children observe we adults on how we manage our emotions when we are disappointed, frustrated or sad. Talk honestly with your preschoolers and they will model how you handle life’s joys and disappointments.
Volunteer in the community as a family. Bring the world to your doorstep by volunteering to truly help others. Right now, our community needs this more than ever. Donating food, supplies, toys and essentials to other families in need is a good lesson of caring beyond the home front to help make the world a better place to live. It is a life lesson that they will continue, as they grow up.
Show respect as you teach understanding and empathy to our young children. Let’s set up our “Cornucopia of the Fruits of The Spirit” this Thanksgiving season by modeling love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as we gather together as families and friends and celebrate God’s blessings for us.