Teaching children well is at the forefront of every parent and educator’s list of priorities. As the leadership figures in our kid’s lives, we want to prepare them for the challenges of life so they may succeed and thrive in and beyond school. The gifts of knowledge and wisdom we give them now serve them well into the future in a world they can transform for the better, every day and ever way. So what does “teaching children well” actually mean?
It’s more than just the academia we provide for them as both teachers and parents. It’s more than the subjects we plan and test for, and the results we expect. It’s about shaping the attitudes of the minds and hearts of our learners to be constructive, proactive, and empowering of themselves and others.
In this article, we’ll call on the wisdom of the late Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. During his lifetime, Dr. Dyer was a prolific author of spiritual literature and a much-beloved speaker. He was affectionately referred to as the “father of motivation.” He also had 8 children of his own who have gone on to become successful performers, authors, and entrepreneurs in their own right. It’s safe to say that he knew a thing or two about teaching children well!
The excerpts that follow come from an article featured on Dr. Dyer’s blog.
The Secrets of Teaching Children Well
“When teachers and parents ask what they can do to help young people get off to a healthy start in life, I say, ‘Set a good example.’ Let your respect and love be seen and felt. It works for children just as it does for all of us.”
The class is in session earlier than we think. Our youth are forming opinions and self-images based on what they see in the behaviors of those who are important to them. We sometimes forget that children, especially very young children, are incredibly observant and highly impressionable. They are absorbing and eating up stimuli in their own environments at an astonishing rate. The presence of technology and our digital culture have only reinforced this.
How we speak and act are the models on which our children will base their own ideas of good and bad, and right or wrong.Click to tweet
A big part of teaching children well, then, is setting a good example for them to follow. How we model for them greatly influences what kind of people they will grow up to be.
When in doubt, think about what motivated you to become who you are today for your kids. Parents become parents because they deeply love children. Teachers become teachers because they deeply love teaching and enabling others.The key word here is love; that is what we must put forth in our intent in both roles.
“Our beliefs about ourselves are the single most telling factors in determining our success and happiness in life. A child’s self-image is a direct result of the kind of reinforcement he or she receives on a daily basis.”
When you grew up, what were you conditioned to believe about yourself? What were the mindsets of the authority figures in your life—older siblings, parents, and teachers? Were you raised to be more aware of your abilities and potential, or was the focus on lack and limitation?
Think about what you have had to overcome in your own life as a result of negative reinforcement, and if you’d want the same struggle for your kids and learners. Teaching children well means ensuring they have a healthy mindset about themselves and what they can accomplish in life.
Consider these exploratory questions:
- How are your children feeling about themselves right now?
- Are they confident in their own ability to succeed and solve problems?
- Do they feel they can complete a task with little or no supervision?
- Do they feel good about themselves inside and out?
- Are they feeling smart and capable?
- Do they have a high sense of self-esteem?
- Are they kind and supportive to others?
- Do they understand why all these things are important to leading a healthy life?
Never doubt that, as parents and educators, we play a crucial role in what our children end up believing about themselves and what their lives can be. Will we spend our time demonstrating to them what can’t be done, or what can be?
“Once you see a child’s self-image begin to improve, you will see not only gains in achievement but even more important, you’ll see a child who is beginning to enjoy life more.”
This is a dream come true for any educator and parent. Simply put, a happy child is a healthy and ultimately successful one. Such a child tends to foster healthy and supportive relationships with authority figures and peers alike. They are more interested in exploring and learning about the world and the people around them. They perform better in school and can end up making more consistently positive life choices. In short, they can look forward to happier and healthier life experiences.
Teaching children well is a journey measured in lifetimes, not just a few years. In one child’s lifetime, classroom learning becomes lifelong learning in being the best we can be. As that child grows into adulthood and progresses through life, they pass healthy mindsets on to their own children and learners, who live and teach them in their respective lifetimes. The idea never dies—it lives on in every generation after us.
Never think that the enablement and love you give to a child as a teacher or parent is finite. Indeed, it is the only thing that lives forever.