For the past 17 years as an educator, when September came to an end I would take a deep breath and say, “Ahh, our classroom community of teachers, students, and families are getting our groove on.” We are learning each day something new about each other and we are becoming comfortable in our daily classroom routines and schedule. This year I am in unfamiliar territory…I AM A PARENT! My son has just started his first year at TCEE in the toddler program and I now see everything from a different lens. I have always been a dedicated, passionate and fun teacher whose philosophy was based on building children’s social and emotional skills and discovering their sense of self. Our school uses and I help implement a curriculum called “The Incredible Flexible You.” This curriculum helps children develop the skills they need to be social problem solvers and flexible in how they think about others.
I have begun to use some of the core concepts of the Social Thinking curriculum with my son at home and they have taken on a whole new meaning. I am gaining a better understanding the importance of a child’s social and emotional development and how we as parents play an important role in creating a respectful, compassionate and social child. As parents, we need to help children explore and learn about how their own thinking (and that of others) can help them make better decisions when in the midst of play and interactions. A child’s role is explore how to share and take turn, share their imagination, self-regulate and thinking thoughts and feeling feelings. A parent’s role is to set the stage and support a child’s play, to provide props and participate in part of the fun. Also “sports casting” which is being able to describe what you are noticing from the child.For example, when I am carrying my screaming son on my side like a football because all he wants is a balloon from the supermarket (which by the way is on every aisle), I let him know that I am “thinking with my eyes” by looking and acknowledging his frustration. When we are going to a new place such as the aquarium, I talk about our “group plan” so he knows what is expected of him, to preview and prepared for what we are about to do. When having dinner and he throws blueberries across the room I remind him to use his “whole body listening” which means having his eyes, ears, mouth, and body are calm we know that he is able to pay attention and acknowledging what is being said to him.
I am excited about this new journey and the year ahead. Happy and healthy new year.