I am excited to share a series of guest posts with you by other Artful Parents and teachers while I step back from the blog a bit this month! I hope you enjoy the new perspectives, different ideas, and fresh energy that each brings to this space. And I encourage you to leave a comment to continue the discussion, add your own viewpoint, or simply say thanks!
Guest Post from Emily Meldrum
At the beginning of a new year (and throughout the year), I try to make parenting goals. As a parent, I am constantly trying to improve myself and parenting skill set. It helps me when I record my parenting philosophies, and make an intentional effort to work towards these ideals.
Two ideas that guide my parenting decisions right now are:
- Children need many opportunities for success in life. Success builds self-efficacy. (And self-efficacy is good. More on this later.)
- Parents should be co-learners with their children. Both parents and children have things to teach each other.
Success and Self-Efficacy
Are you familiar with the term self-efficacy? It is similar to self-esteem, which is a more commonly known concept, but it is not quite the same. Self-efficacy is “a belief that one is capable of executing certain behaviors or reaching certain goals” (from Child Development and Education, by McDevitt and Ormrod). In other words, children have a high self-efficacy when they think that they are good at something. It is a bit more specific than self-esteem.
I want my kids to have high self-efficacy. I want them to know that they are good at doing lots of things. The way that they can come to this conclusion is by experiencing success in life. There are lots of things that I can do to help my kids be successful, but I think that one of the most important is to let them do things. It's that simple.
Lately, I have really been trying to accept and embrace my children's ideas. I want them to think “I have great ideas.” This will lead to more creativity and all the learning that goes along with trial and error. When my kids suggest something, unless it is going to hurt someone or something, I say, “Let's go for it!”
My four year old loves baking. She loves to play the game of Invent Your Own Recipe. I encourage her to taste the ingredients before adding them, and only add a little bit of each item. A few weeks ago she invented a recipe for “Mischo Cake,” and was so proud. She wanted me to write the recipe down and post it on our family blog. So I did. Then she wanted to call her Grandma and tell her about the recipe. So we did. My daughter couldn't have been happier.
For Halloween, my four year old wanted to make her Daddy a costume. She decided on a turtle. I helped her to cut the cardboard, tie the two pieces together, and together we came up with a design concept. My daughter did all of the colouring and was so proud of her work. Her Dad wore his costume when they went trick-or-treating together. She was bursting with pride.
Parents and Children Learning Together
The idea of building children's self-efficacy fits closely with the concept of learning. Something that I have been trying to teach myself is that I am not the only one with unique knowledge in the parent-child relationship. Just because I'm an adult and a teacher, does not mean that I always know best. I often have to take a step back, and say to myself, “Wait a second, what can I learn here?” Or, “I think that she was right and I was wrong.” I know that my children have so much to teach me, if I would just allow them to.
My daughter goes to a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool. One of the main philosophies of the Reggio approach is that teachers are co-learners with their students. I like to think of myself as a co-learner with my children, as well. This idea can apply to so many realms. As in: “I have no idea exactly how big the moon is, let's find out.” Or, “Wow, I really shouldn't have done that. I made a mistake and I'm sorry.”
Something that I really want to teach my children is that I don't know everything, and that I make mistakes. Learning and growing are part of life, and are in fact, what make life so fun.
I think that as parents in general, we sometimes get caught up in the day to day of life. I am guilty of forgetting to learn lessons from life. Let's hope that I will at least learn this: my children are treasures who can teach me so much if I just allow them to.
[About Emily Meldrum] I write at The Mary Frances Project along with my sister, Carlee. Inspired by our Grandmother, Mary Frances, we post on four different topics: Sew, Cook, Improve, and Play. Our blog is about becoming the women that we want to be, celebrating who we are, and where we've come from.
I am mommy to two sweet little girls, and just moved to Alberta, Canada, where Mr. Emily works as a Chiropractor. In my former life (before kids), I taught grade three. After my oldest was born, I went back to school and did a Master's Degree in Developmental Psychology. My (not-so) secret wish is to go back to school (again!) and get a PhD, so I can be a doctor too.