I just returned from a parent-teacher meeting earlier this week and as we enter the long middle of the school year (without the excitement of the beginning or the relief that comes at the end of the year) it got me thinking about the role parents play in supporting their child’s education. I am thinking of these ideas specifically now when some of us may find that COVID-19 has pushed our kids back a few levels, in terms of their social, emotional and intellectual abilities.
“There’s simplicity on the other side of complexity,” said the 19th Century poet and humorist Oliver Wendell Holmes.
When I look at my own kids and some of their struggles, one simple message born out of the complexity of living a life and experiencing setbacks is, “There Are So Many Ways to be Smart.”
While schools can offer an official measure of our children around how they are progressing in acquiring the skills, tools, and competencies to function as citizens of the world, when children struggle at school, our homes can offer an important corrective.
How can we use our home lives as places for them to practice, hone and develop the skills that will develop their emotional, social, spatial and verbal intelligence so that they can embody an expanded sense of their smarts and competencies?
Some general areas I am thinking about are:
- Caring for siblings as an expression of care for those around them
Preparing nourishing food as a way to learn how to execute a (tasty!) project from start to finish
Organizing space (also known as helping clean up!) as a way of cultivating their spatial intelligence
Practicing self-care through daily routines (bathing, brushing teeth, doing their own laundry etc) as a way to practice order, cleanliness and even self-love
So let’s ask ourselves:
What is one area in which you want your child to have an expanded understanding of their own smarts?
Imagine how you could invite them to take more leadership in one arena of your home. What, in particular, needs that specific child’s skill and know-how?
What’s a small step you want to take to put that idea into action?
One of my daughters loves being busy and wants to do everything “by herself.” Instead of seeing her strong-mindedness as an impediment from my getting things done, I have given some tasks over to her. She now orders pizza with my credit card on Thursday nights. The guy at the shop has a smile in his voice every time she calls. And my daughter does too.
Blessings for the journey,
Ps.: This post was inspired by an interview with the late Mike Rose. You can listen to the full interview on ‘On Being’ here.