I learned a lot about caring for my own children by watching their teachers in the classroom. I was lucky. As a member of a parent cooperative, we had consistent opportunities to be in the classroom as parent volunteers, to help out on field trips, and to accompany the children to the playground.
It was very early on in my parenting life when I realized that even though I thought I knew a lot about children, I really didn’t. I was young (ish) and had been through a lot of school. I had been a teacher for a few years but none of that added up to knowing about children.
I was one of those moms who called the pediatrician every time Noah peeped, looked funny, or cried for no apparent reason. Nothing I read in the books and nothing I had done with other people’s children had prepared me to be a mom.
We did OK. We figured it out. We gutted it out. But once we enrolled the kids in a quality child care center, I really began learning about caring for young children. I don’t even think the teachers were aware of how much of an impact they had on me as a mom, and on the other parents. Without expressly doing anything, they modeled behaviors, affect, language, systems, and practices that were effective and enlightening.
The message here is that you should always remember that parents are watching you. Even if they don’t ask, or let you know that they don’t know, they need help and support. The simple act of squatting down to speak to a child at eye level, will model a “best practice” for parents. Before you know it, they will adopt those behaviors as their own.