Thursday, June 18, 2015
Teaching responsibility, how and when do you start?
As a parent of four children, most of whom are grown, I always wondered how to teach them responsibility and when do I start? well we can start when they are toddlers. Toddlers you say? Well, what can they possibly have to be responsible for? And, aren't we expecting too much from them at that age? Well, we know as educators that children's minds are like sponges from birth to five. They pick up on literacy in the womb from mom and dad reading to them. They learn to self sooth when they are upset.So let us see just how we can start this process of responsibility. As toddlers, especially in a child care setting, we can start them being responsible for their room- help the teacher put the toys away. Even if they don't know where it goes, just learning to pick it up and bring it to the teacher allows the child to help and to feel responsible for putting things away. As a parent we can do the same thing.Have them help you clean things up, bring things to you to put away. They are beginning to get a sense of responsibility (even if they don't realize what that is). With repetition and thanks and praise from mom and dad and caregivers, it will become a routine.They will begin to bring things to you without you even having to ask. As they get a little older, by putting the pictures on bins and shelves, the children will be able to start doing this themselves with some direction from you.With consistent routines and praise the level of responsibility grows. As children become a little older, they can begin to have actual job responsibility in the classroom. Something they can do for a whole week or two will give them something to be proud of. They will eventually remind you who has what job and they will tell them how to do it too. They will definitely not want someone else to do their job. It will become something they feel responsible for. As they become school-agers, the level of responsibility grows. Now we establish new routines, backpacks and lunchboxes, homework and agendas, papers to be signed. Start a routine early and stick to it. This is why schedules work so well. Children need that structure and when we work responsibilities into that it becomes a great learning opportunity for them. Teach them to be responsible early and the bigger lessons will be easier to teach. When we feel the urge to step in and do it ourselves, fight it, let them do it. Even if it turns out wrong, there is always a learning opportunity to be had. The things we teach them to be responsible for now will resonate with them in adulthood.