The past few posts have focused on defining family but in a broader sense, this blog is about what we model and instill with the children in our lives and the lessons we learn from each other. A huge part of raising and working with kids is keeping in mind the end game. That doesn’t mean being wedded to a certain outcome (soccer star, valedictorian, Ivy-League college) but more a general sense of the values you want to instill and the kind of person you hope this little person is and becomes. While much of development is dependent on temperament, health, experiences outside the home, parents and caregivers are the first teachers and often, the most significant role models.
It’s important to spend time thinking about what you want to model and instill, and to know that this may change over time.Each family will grow to have it’s own unique blend of values and priorities. This may include a range of other big and small ideas, such as:
The foundation for building a connected family and children who learn to navigate their world with confidence, empathy and a willingness to accept challenges are based on eight traits explored on the blog. They are:
Love of literature/communication
Resilience & resourcefulness
These are eight traits, among many, that are the foundation upon which strong families are based. It also shares stories of a wide range of children in the classroom where these traits are nurtured and contribute to both the child’s development and the school community. Each of these traits helps give rise to confident, caring and engaged children who learn to advocate for themselves and people and issues important to them, as they learn to be self-reliant and motivated thinkers and do-ers in an increasingly complex world.
With two emerging adults – kids that are late teens and early twenties but not yet fully adults – it’s easier now to look back on how we raised them. There were definitely periods we were far too bleary-eyed or stressed to consider the big picture! Over the past twenty years, our ideals and values have shifted as circumstances and needs changed. We faced challenges and many joys, but throughout these halos and hiccups, there are many values and traits that we clung to and strived to model and instill.
Over these same years, as I worked with children from ages three through thirteen, I was fortunate enough to work alongside dedicated colleagues who shared similar values and commitment to what we modeled and expected from our students. Beyond my own two offspring, I saw hundreds of kids from various backgrounds learn to navigate school and life with courage and integrity, learning from their mistakes and growing. What’s most important to me as a person and my family can be summarized:
- We must have the courage to be both creative and empathetic in our lives. We must listen to our hearts and the people around us. Everyone and every situation have something to teach us when we listen.
- Communicating with others orally, in writing, in our body language and our actions are essential in this world.
- Literature has much to teach us, as well as an ability to help us escape from the world, explore new ideas, and connect with others.
- Life isn’t just about work; it’s about play and joy, too. Play is essential for big people, little people and all people, so we need time for authentic play that allows us to do something we love with no purpose.
- Whether in play or work, we will need to problem solve, often. This requires looking carefully at the situation and trying new things. We will fail, and we will succeed, and we will learn.
- To navigate our relationship and our world, we will be called upon, again to be brave, as we develop resilience and resourcefulness. Life will be complicated and messy and rewarding. We have to jump in the game and give it our all.
- As a family, we need to support each other as we take this journey, honoring each other, being open to the possibilities, holding each other accountable as we celebrate the failures and successes of our individual and collective growth and contributions to the world.
Our most important job as parents and caregivers is to raise children who learn to be self-sufficient, competent, caring and willing to contribute to the world – a world we cannot know right now, but can only give our very best effort to raising good kids who will go out and do good in their own ways.
What’s most important to your family or for you to model and instill in the children you work with?