- Published on Thursday, 04 March 2010 12:34
I am not an official parenting expert with a PhD. However, I’ve worked with children since the age of 12. I began babysitting at that time and later became a nanny. I’ve worked in day cares, preschools and in classrooms with pre-K, kinder, first, second, third and fourth graders.
Of the families I nannied for (16+ years) the children ranged in ages from 6 weeks to 13. I also have three children of my own.
So after much consideration I have concluded that I am indeed an expert on at least this one thing: the uniqueness of children.
It hit me, then, that this is why I had felt so driven to create PCS…”as individual and unique as each child.” While thinking through the premise of this article I thought of a new line for the PCS site, as well: “Because I believe that every child is different…every PCS book is different!”
Okay – back to my article
I love to watch and listen to people. I’ve been a people watcher most of my life. I often see/hear parents (namely moms) asking, “How do I deal with ____? How do I handle ____? What’s the right way? What’s the ’set’ way to parent my boy or girl?” Etc, etc.
Simply put – there is no “one way” to be a parent (or a nanny or a teacher for that matter).
I would personally be of the belief that every child was created and designed to be unique and different; much like snowflakes. If we, as parents/caregivers/teachers, keep our eyes open to SEE the individuality (and to foster it), children are bound to grow and thrive.
Example One: My ten-year-old son was born with numerous eye complications. From day one my mother and I noticed that he is extremely mathematically gifted (no, he did NOT get that from me ). I decided that he was a child who would benefit from the use of flashcards, math games, math books and other educational stimuli. I ordered a monthly reading/craft kit for him that arrived in our mailbox for about a three year period. We’d open that and work on the contents each month: book, workbook, puzzles, games, craft and music (each kit came with a tape cassette – yeah, I know…old school!). Some parents told me I was pushing him. I must have wanted a ’super child’ so that I could brag about him to others. Wrong. I simply saw what he needed and made a choice to provide it. He recently took the state gifted exam and tested out two grade levels ahead.
Example Two: My 2.5 year old adores books. I have made them for her since birth. She will sit and read for hours, looking at the personal photos and making up a story to go along. She is fascinated by photos and language and singing. She has a crazy fantastic voice. My husband and I both noticed that very quickly. We, in turn, will enroll her in singing lessons when the time comes and perhaps in dance and piano as well. We’ll see how it goes. We sing with her day and night so that her love of music will not be lost. We also foster her love of books by supplying her with lots of them. Both my PCS books and store bought books, as well as coloring books. She also loves to dress herself in crazy color combos. I am not a mother who insists on changing her into ‘acceptable’ wear. For all I know, it could be her destiny to become a designer and by forcing her to modify her love for flare, I’d be hindering her creativity. So even on the days when I look at what she has compiled, and desperately want to burst into laughter, I refrain and say: “Sammy, that is a very unique and interesting outfit. You are so creative!” She beams.
Example Three: Our baby boy clearly has ‘athlete’ written all over him. He is rough and tumble to the max. He will crawl across the floor, huge grin, and attack me. We flip him over, upside down and toss him around – far more than we did with the other kids. I was nervous at first but soon realized he NEEDS this. He LOVES it. He WANTS it. I can totally see him playing the football quarterback some day. In turn, we offer him plenty of floor time, tumble time and activity. He does love books, as well. He likes to HURL them across the room to see just how far they will fly (yes, this does make me cry just a bit). When the time comes, we will enroll him in sports, no doubt.
The point: With my own children and with all I have worked with…I have yet to meet any two that are identical. Therefore, I approach each one in a different way. In a classroom, there are state standards that must be adhered to; I understand that. However, I’ve always allowed children to find the answers in various ways. Some need visuals while others need text. Some want to color inside the lines while others want a blank piece of paper on which to create a personal masterpiece. Some children learn best by hearing while others by doing. Some can sit still for hours while others need more time to get the wiggles out (which I, personally, think is completely and utterly normal and nothing more than a personality trait – one that produces fantastic entrepreneurs in a variety of markets if we don’t squelch them).
From boys to girls, birth to teens, every child is a unique and individual creation with special gifts and talents. If we pay attention to their individual needs, those gifts/talents can be fostered and used to their greatest potential.
Imagine a symphony with only one instrument playing. The concert may be packed opening night but who would ever return?
However, a symphony that offers an array of talent, instruments and a combination of musical genius (different as each genius may be), is a symphony that sells out night after night. Year after year.
A museum that features nothing but images painted in red – boring. But a museum that adorns the walls with color, variation, classic and modern pieces – is far more interesting.
I want my home, my classrooms and my workshops to be a symphony of human individuality. All playing differently and in their own way; making music in amazing harmony. Each one needed. Each one wanted. Each one learning from the others. Each being allowed to be who they were born to be. But all the while – a sell out.
Join me, won’t you? Whether you are a parent, teacher or nanny, be willing to open your eyes to the fantastic potential that each child offers. Don’t expect one to be just like another. Embrace the fact that they are NOT.
When children know they are viewed as special, special things happen.
ABOUT the Author:
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Kid Perks and Personal Child Stories. She has a background in early childhood, nanny work, published freelance, marketing and special needs.