5 ‘School to Home’ Insights From Super Teachers

 

As a new school year begins we want to share some of the most valuable methods employed by ‘super teachers.’ These insights, when adopted by conscious parents, can transform life at home. If you are just beginning your teaching career this can serve as a basis for implementing desired results and early achievement. Share these ideas with your families and be the model of all you aspire them to be. 

The following 5 practices used by master teachers have a direct and positive impact on the flow of a day while also encouraging responsibility, self-regulation, and cooperation in young children.

 

1. Control the environment, not the child. 

Experienced teachers have learned that trying to control children often creates power struggles, outbursts and frustration. They know it is worth their time and energy to set up the environment in a way that children will not get their hands on grown up materials. Labeling bins and shelves with photos and words not only creates physical orderliness (which helps with behavioral orderliness) but it also serves the dual purpose of reading readiness. It is the adult, rather than the child, who takes responsibility for the amount of clutter, availability and safety of the environment.

Home Hint: Has your child ever gotten his hands on your cell phone, television remote, car keys, laptop, doughnuts, chips, or dog food? Are so many toys available that the mess becomes overwhelming very quickly?  If so, it’s probably time to be more conscious of how your home environment is organized and if it is working for or against you.

 

2. Children need consistent, clear and age appropriate boundaries.

Experienced teachers do not ‘lecture’ because they know young children’s brains learn best by having an experience rather than an intellectual explanation. Boundaries and rules are reinforced through songs, appreciation, games and imaginative role-playing.

Home Hint: If you notice your child is following a ‘rule’ at home offer imaginative appreciation by saying, “You put all your cars back in the box. I think I hear the cars saying, “THANK YOU! THANK YOU! WE LIKE BEING BACK WHERE WE ARE SAFE AND HAPPY…oops here is one more. Do you want to help him find his way back into the box with the rest of his friends?” 

 

3. Children thrive with repetitive routines.

It is natural for children to want to feel empowered and self directed. They so want to be independent and feel like they are the bosses of themselves. Consistent routines help them anticipate what is coming next and offer them an opportunity to be the one in charge. Rather than the ‘mood’ of the teacher or how ‘stressed’ she is, the children always know what to expect and this creates a sense of empowerment and cooperative independence. 

Home Hint: Do you want your child to always put her shoes in the same place when entering the house? Good! Using the technique of talking to inanimate objects, tell the shoes that this is where they belong. As you walk into the house ask your child if her shoes know their special place. Encourage her to be the ‘boss’ of her shoes. 

 

4. Behavior is communication.

A child’s ‘misbehavior’ is an indication of a legitimate need crying out to be met. Conflict is an opportunity to talk about feelings. This insight helps the adult take nothing personally and allows you to respond thoughtfully rather than be reactive. 

Knowing that sharing, waiting turns and not being first is legitimately difficult, the teacher uses conflict as a teaching tool. She does not demand that children apologize because she knows that unless feelings are identified, respected and acknowledged, nothing has been learned. After helping each child express their ‘truth’ she asks if they would like to try again and reassures them that she is always there to help. 

Home Hint: Sibling rivalry or striking out at parents are perfect teaching opportunities. State very clearly that hitting is not OK because it hurts. It is important, however, that you model this and never use shame or guilt as a method of cajoling an insincere apology. It is imperative that the adult gives language to feelings, such as, “You wish your little sister would not touch your toys, don’t you? It makes you angry when she takes your doll. I will help you tell her that.”

            

5. Praise is always about the child’s accomplishment, not about pleasing the adult. 

Receiving appreciation for being helpful, responsible, and cooperative feels very different for the child than being told he is ‘good.’  Our objective is to encourage the inner sense of ‘I can do it” rather than the outer sense of, “I pleased the adult so I am good.”

For example, the teacher asks a child to set the table for snack. When done the teacher shows appreciation by saying, “Thank you for helping me. While you set the table I was able to prepare the fruit and cookies. Would you like to help me tell everyone that snack is ready?”

Home Hint: After your child has brushed his teeth, instead of saying, “Good boy.” or “Good job.” or “I’m proud of you, buddy,” say something like, “You remembered to do that all by yourself. Ooooo…your teeth look so shiny clean!” 

It seems like almost everyone has an opinion on how moms and dads ought to parent and how children ought to behave. While there is no one ‘right’ way, experienced teachers are a great resource for modeling and supporting families in developing age appropriate and emotionally healthy tools. When parents and teachers work together to employ these five proven strategies children learn the skills to become more resilient, confident and empowered to succeed in school, at home and then out into the bigger world.