I believe becoming a parent has changed my outlook on teaching and education. I have been thinking a lot about this lately as my monsters grow. As some of you may know, I have four children. Yep…4! And although they share the same parents and have been raised in the same home, they are each unique in unbelievable ways.
Our oldest…she is so many things. In school she is bright and hardworking. She is kind, fair and just. She is kind to all she encounters. She loves younger children and tends to “mother” everyone. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and is not afraid to call anyone on it. This causes her some issues with her peers. She tries desperately to make things just and fair. In her mind this helps everyone to feel good. She is bright and she loves math, but she doesn’t want anyone to notice. She would rather be in the background, unnoticed. As is normal with girls her age, she struggles with her confidence. She doesn’t quite “fit in.” She is beautifully artistic. She can see lines, patterns and colors in the most mundane things. She loves to create and be creative. This is her passion. However, she has been told too many times, by too many adults, “Just do it my way this once… or you didn’t follow the steps…” So now, sadly, she only looks for the “right” way rather than the creative way to solve a problem or complete a task. As her parents, we work hard to nurture her creativity as we see this as a wonderful strength. As she grows older, she is developing a quick wit and a wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor. She can play the piano beautifully and paints with her heart.
Our oldest son is unique and has many different talents. He is exceptionally bright and a fantastic problem solver. I am pretty sure he has a photographic memory. He can see or read something once and remember it forever. Learning and athletics come easy for him. He rarely has to work hard to achieve. This can be a strength, but also a weakness. He is also a bit of a perfectionist and he hates to fail or make a mistake in anything. When he does, he folds into himself and needs time and space to feel better. He is an excellent problem solver. He doesn’t necessarily talk it out or write it out. I often wish I could get inside his mind to figure out what he is thinking. He is a wonderful athlete. He can participate successfully in almost any sport. However, his passion and love is hockey. He lives, breathes and sleeps hockey. When he is not on the ice, he is in our basement practicing, playing it on the Xbox or reading books about players. He loves the strategy of the game and has developed into quite a good player. But he is also sensitive and sometimes passive. It could be this is part of his perfectionistic nature. Sometimes he appears confident but underneath he is soft and wants approval. He loves to read! He always has an adventure type book on the go and we struggle to find books that are appropriate content that will hold his interest. He also loves to play guitar and is has a great voice. As his parents, we work hard to nurture is natural athletic ability but encourage him to be a strong self-advocate when necessary.
Our younger son also has a variety of special gifts. He is a hard worker in everyway. In school, he works hard in every subject. He can be focused and diligent. He loves math, but won’t say it. He doesn’t feel he is as good at it as his brother, so he doesn’t want people to know that he likes it. He likes to read, but not narratives. Give him a non-fiction book and he will read and re-read it. Then recite the facts for days. He loves to work with his hands and figure out how things work. He is a thinker and a doer. He is a great helper, he loves to help us cook dinner or even bake. I would call him a Mama’s boy, but he is also a Daddy’s boy. He loves his family and is loyal to a fault. He will even take a consequence for something his brother did and not say a word. He and his brother are similar in that they both love hockey. While his brother prefers to score goals, he likes standing in the net saving them. Being a goalie takes perseverance and strength of character (and a little bit of crazy). He loves to make people laugh. If there is a joke, he’s going to tell it. If there is a prank, he’s going to be involved. Usually with the best of intentions. He is quick to notice if someone’s feelings are hurt and apologizes for his part. He is learning to play piano, like his dad. He is good at the songs he can play with a partner, he enjoys being with others. As his parents, we try to encourage his hard work ethic and his sense of fun as well as nurture his sense of perseverance and loyalty.
Our youngest daughter is developing her own character. She has decided that she likes hockey as well. She wants to skate as fast as her oldest brother and score lots of goals on her other brother. She is a determined (stubborn) little girl. She could barely stand on her skates at the beginning of the season, and now she is skating quite well. She is determined in life as well. If she has made up her mind, there is no convincing her otherwise. Especially with clothing…if it is “uncomfortable”, she will not wear it. While I know this trait will serve her well in life, it is frustrating to parent. Her determination has caused many morning arguments in our home. She is a great friend to her peers at pre-kindergarten and her day home. She understands that each of her friends is different and has talents. Of one little boy in her class who has some struggles, “he’s my friend, even when he makes bad choices.” She loves books and loves to listen to and to make up stories. Like her brother, she likes to make people laugh and she has a talent for it. She has a quick wit and can come up with some amazing one-liners that have us all in stitches. She loves to draw and create with her hands. Nothing with glue and scissors, rather clay and playdoh sculptures. And she loves to sing, she sings all the time and about the most boring of subjects. We encourage her creativity and her sense of humour and we will continue to nurture her determined, strong-willed spirit.
Four very different monsters. But they have taught me a lot about teaching and learning. While I want them to learn about Language Arts, Math, Science, Social and Religion, I also want them to develop into good people. Now, when I look at a child, I try to develop an understanding of them as a person. I understand that we can not realistically get to know each child as well as I know my own, but could i take a little time to get to know them a little better? This is what I would love for each of my children’s teachers to do, why wouldn’t I do this for the students I serve? Each child is a unique combination of character traits that we need to unravel, understand, encourage and nurture.