What I've Learned In 21 Years of weeSchooling August 19 2016, 0 Comments
I’ve been a weeSchooler for the past 21 years.
It all started when I left a teaching position in a high school classroom to become teacher to a teeny person in my house. And she was very teeny—smaller when she arrived home, in fact, than the family cat.
Four years of studying English and education as an undergrad at Michigan State University did nothing to prepare me for this high-stakes teaching position. Nothing could have, really. Parenting is something you have to experience to really understand; as my baby was learning things at an unbelievable pace, I was, too.
I considered myself lucky to have the freedom to be a full-time student of parenting. A lot of my friends were full-time students of parenting and working a full-time job outside the home. I still have a hard time imagining how tough that must be for parents.
It’s part of the reason I created weeSchool.
As a full-time parenting student, here’s some of the stuff I learned: cloth diapers sound a lot better than they actually are; you will protect your child at all costs; popsicles cure boo-boos; sometimes you need a glass of wine; almost always let your kids jump in puddles; a frozen pineapple core works great for teething babies; Santa is real; allowing your children to finger paint without clothes on will save you a lot of cleanup; baby food is pretty gross; a magnifying glass is one of the best tools you can give your little kid.
I didn’t read that information anywhere; it came with experience.
But I also did become a reader of a ton of info on child development when my children were wee, and that’s the stuff I’ve compiled into a friendly little app that will keep you from having to do any of that homework yourself.
And here’s my dirty little secret: some of the things that made me a really good mommy (I believe I was and am a really good mommy, and I hope you will, too) weren’t at all based on research. Instead, these simple truths are what made me a great weeSchool teacher to my kids:
1) Read aloud. Have fun doing it. Make different voices for all of the characters in the story, even especially the animals.
2) When your child asks ‘Why,” answer. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Then go look it up together.
3) Eat dinner as a family. And breakfast and lunch too, if possible.
4) Get a pet. Make sure it’s a child-friendly pet (as in, not a python or a tarantula). Help your child care for it.
5) Be patient. Remember, everything is new to a baby or toddler, even the stuff you take for granted. A ladybug. Shoes. Flushing toilets. Puffy clouds. And don’t forget to look for shapes in those clouds with your kiddo.
My kids are in college now, and I’m still figuring out this parenting thing as I go. I remind them that I’ve never been the parent of people in their twenties before, and that I continue to learn from my mistakes. And I also remind them that older children are a bit more critical than they were as babies! They just laugh. But they’ll understand when they have wee ones of their own, and then I’ll laugh, too.