Do you ever wonder if your child is really listening, really learning what’s being taught to them? Do you pick them up from school, ask how their day went, and the only response you get is “Fine”?
When I pick up my daughter (age 5) from school or give her a hug after karate class and ask what she did or what she learned, her go-to response is “Everything!” While that answer technically covers all the bases, it’s not a great conversation-starter and not entirely convincing. If I try to ask more intentional questions like “Did you practice writing your letters in class today” or “Can you show me the kick you learned in karate today,” another common response is “I don’t remember.”
As parents we often expect our kids to learn, think, and interact a certain way. If we ask them a question and don’t get an “acceptable” answer, we can get discouraged or frustrated because our expectations aren’t in line with reality. It’s important to remember that our kids are capable of so much more than we know, if we just give them the time and space to express themselves in their own way. They can surprise us when we least expect it.
I have found that I learn the most about my child’s observations and experiences in spontaneous, unplanned moments. For example, she might share a detail from her day as I’m putting her to bed at night. A few nights ago, we were reading a book about rainforest animals, and we were on the page about invertebrates. She interrupts me and says “Hey, we are learning about animals without backbones in school!” My jaw dropped to the floor.
Tonight at bath time, she was playing with her sister and pretending to be the karate instructor. She proceeded to promote her two-year-old sister to yellow belt: “Okay, bow your head. Now, head up, and kiai!” She had just witnessed one of her classmates get promoted to yellow belt the day before.
Not only are our kids listening, they are also looking to us as role models – they look to us to set an example, and they soak up and reflect what they see and hear. You might see them tuck their stuffed animals into bed the way that you do it. You might hear them singing a song the way their teacher taught them. You might see them in the kitchen, teaching karate to their little sister the way they learned it from their instructor.
You can never be sure what part of the lesson is going to resonate with your child, but if you continue to set a positive example and create opportunities for learning and growth, you can be certain that you’re creating positive connections that your child will carry with them. If you pay attention during those spontaneous moments, you just might witness some of the learning in action.
– Miss Amber