As I marveled at the birth of my third grandchild, I harkened back to the time when I was a young parent like so many of you. That joyful expectation, the wonderment of his or her arrival, and the realization that the child was perfectly formed were awarenesses that ushered us all into parenthood. And with that were the feelings of love for the child and gratitude to the whole of creation that this child was healthy and wonderful.
I expect this third grandchild will find his parents very much as you are and I was. They will probably do all they can possibly do for this little one and then some. They will, as we did, end up working very hard at being perfect parents for their perfect child. We parents pursue parenting differently but with the same goal in mind, that of giving our child the most wonderful life possible so that he may become all that is his potential and live a happy life.
There are many things you will be asked to do as you raise your child. Since you have a profound influence over your child, how you respond to her in certain situations will be key. Before your child entered school you probably concentrated on all the things she could do. Perhaps you even wrote down some of these achievements and some of these firsts, like the first time she rolled over or sat up or the first word she spoke. You were rightly focused on how great she was.
But often when a child begins school parents shift this focus to the mistakes he or she makes. Frequently these mistakes are just the effects of learning and are normal and natural. They are not indicators of her impending failure of attaining that original goal you had for her of reaching her potential and of leading a happy life. But instead your emphasis on these mistakes does in fact thwart her and gives her the perhaps unspoken message that you are disappointed in her and that she is not as good or competent as you had thought.
As he enters our Montessori environment, whether it is in the toddler environment or any of our classrooms, we hope you will keep that wonder that enveloped you at your child’s birth. We want you to continue to stress all that he is capable of doing just the way you did when you wrote those firsts in his baby book. We also want you to know that we believe mistakes are opportunities for learning and evidence of learning taking place. We welcome mistakes because mistakes are indicators of where lessons are needed. Children need to feel safe in school to make mistakes; by feeling safe to make mistakes they are freer to learn. The two go together. So continue to look for all your child can do, stress that, and be gentle with mistakes. Not only is it important for you to accept your child’s mistakes, but it is important for your child to be able to accept her mistakes as part of the learning dance.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it even takes me several times at making the same mistake before learning how to do it right. You might need to let your child make repeated mistakes without showing your discouragement. Remember, it’s how we all learn.
Director/Elementary 1 Teacher