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A Visit from Marta Donahoe By Heather Gray   Teacher preparation, training, accreditation and continued professional development for the educator are at the foundation of

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By the Walnut Farm Primary Teachers

Happy New Year Walnut Farm Community!

2017 is now behind us and the new year lays before us holding new opportunities for growth. The new year always inspires change. We often tend to try to change something about ourselves: behaviors, our bodies, our bad habits – in hopes of making ourselves and our lives better. This is also the time of year when lots of good work is seen in the classroom. Children are pumped with information, eager for more lessons, comfortable with each other and ready to work. They are not thinking about changing themselves; they are thinking about how to conquer the next ‘obstacle’ of their interest. One of the most amazing things about children is their innate sense of growth and development. They are interested in most everything UNTIL…

At some point in a child’s development pleasing the parent becomes super important; at this time the beautiful opportunity we get to invoke is the continued sense of wonder for the world and all that it holds. We get to decide how we rear our children. Period. This is a huge responsibility and a big opportunity for us to grow, as well. This year let’s add another resolution to our list…let’s decide to give the gift of an open mindset, the gift of potential for our children.

Here are some things you can do to help your child become the best person s/he can be. Make these few things part of your new year’s resolutions. Take notes-mental are fine-and see how your child grows from your growth.

1) Listen! Really listen. Open your ears to their ideas, and when a wild idea arises about collecting every specimen of bug one can find in the Ozarks (and that is a lot!) get on board the bug train. Instead of showing them your fear of bugs, grow with them and pick up that large garden spider you so fear.

When we listen we don’t always have to have an answer. Instead, we can answer with questions such as, “What did you do when Johnny threw a ball at you?” “You sound really angry about Sally taking your picture. What did you do?” Get your child to think, come up with solutions, and express themselves in a safe place. We are their safe places.

2) We love to praise our children and children love praise, but instead of praising their intelligence or talent, praise the process – their strategies, efforts and choices. This helps us refrain from judgement and labels. When we tell a child, “You are smart,” the inclination to work any harder in case of failure and disappointing the parent enters the psyche. We mean well, but it is quite detrimental to praise them with phrases such as “You are so smart” or “You are the fastest kid in town”. What happens when they’re not? Even “Good job” needs to go because pretty soon all they want to hear are those words from you so to please you. Praise their effort. Let them know how hard they worked because even the so-called “naturals” work hard. And when they fail, and they will, ask them how it could be done better. What would they do differently the next time? Oddly, we humans sometimes learn best from failing. There are consequences to making the ‘wrong’ decision, but if we allow our children to mess up and learn from it then they will grow from it as well. Refrain from judgement and let them fail.

3) Be there as often as possible. Some of us are in the parental stage of having to let go (even more so ) as our children begin to drive and engage in extracurricular activities. You’ve heard this time and time again, but rearing a child goes way too fast, and at some point we must let go and let be. Giving your child the gift of letting go is difficult at best. We think we can change them when the only thing we can change is ourselves. Let them be who they are and let go.

At Walnut Farm, we have teachers and staff who have loads of experience and wisdom to share. This information is sometimes best heard when it doesn’t come from your mother. We are family. In 2018 let’s all work to give the gift of being the best parent with even more tools. Peace in the new year!