On your marks… get ready… go!
As busy parents, our lives are often filled with lists. Get the kids ready; Go to work; Go to the grocery store; Prepare dinner; Bath the kids and get them to bed… tick, tick, tick… you get your list done and move onto the next thing.
While having the ability to race through your daily tasks may be a great skill in managing your time, it is not a great way of looking at your child’s development.
Despite what many well-intentioned parents believe, milestones are not simply notches on your child’s proverbial belt, that must be raced through on the way to bigger and better things. Milestones ARE the bigger and better things.
We found a really great parable, about two dads who loved their boys very much.
Johnny and Timmy were exactly the same age and each of them received a ball for their birthday. Johnny’s dad took it upon himself to teach his son how to play with the ball and when Johnny showed how quickly he learned how to kick, throw and catch the ball, his father was so proud. “OK,” said Johnny’s dad, “I am so proud of you, you’re so clever. Now that you know how to do this, we don’t have to bother anymore. Let’s go do something else.” Timmy, who’s dad also grabbed the opportunity to teach him some ball skills was well impressed when Timmy also learned how to kick, throw and catch the ball. However, unlike Johnny’s dad, when Timmy asked what they were going to do next, his dad answered, “Well, I’m going to teach you how to play soccer!”
What both dads have in common is a love for their sons and for helping them to acquire new skills. However, Johnny’s dad thought that he only needed to tick off a skill and that it would further develop on its own without much input.
Timmy’s dad, however, realised that not only had his son achieved something and learned new skills, which made him proud, but these new skills also allowed them, as father and son, to do something together, to interact and learn and have fun – together.
Milestones are not only a case of ticking off a list of skills that your child should have at a certain age – each skill should be taken and nurtured, like a new flower in spring. Growing, watering, caring for and marvelling in the amazing new skills your child is revealing every day.
So how do you nurture your child’s milestones? Sometimes its as easy as repeating the new skill over and over again, for as long this brings your child joy. For example, a dad kicking a ball with his child every day after work from the age of two until he goes off to university!
At other times, it may mean expanding on a new skill, so that you keep your child interested. For example, a child who has learned to thread beads onto a string can then start threading colour patterns such as red, blue, red, blue.
Basically, the idea is that a milestone is not a medal to be hung around a child’s neck, it is, in fact, the key to opening the door to new experiences and making new memories.
Words: Loren Stow
when we know better… we do better
*Practica Parents: The structured, progressive way in which the programme has been put together makes it easier for parents to keep on setting the barrier a little higher as their children develop. A great tool for doing this can be found in the back of the Practica Guide where there is a comprehensive list of skills, each with its related activities listed in order of difficulty.
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