Thursday, June 3, 2010

Teaching Through The Years

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I began to think of all the things I have tried to teach my children over the years. I also realized that I have taken several different approaches to that teaching.

When my children were very young, direct instruction worked best (“Here honey, this is how you tie your shoes.”, “Hold your fork this way and it will be easier to pick the food up.”).

When they got a little older, I believe I started teaching more by example. (“Mommy is going to volunteer at the Food Bank today.”, “Sit tight while I take this extra plate of food to our neighbor who is not feeling well.”).

Finally as teenagers, I am letting my children learn through failure, mistakes and consequences. (“You’ve chosen to not do your homework all semester, so you can’t go on the field trip.”, “Do you think you should have checked the pockets of your jeans before washing them because I don’t think you can get the pink out of your underwear now?”).

I am very proud of the many things my children have learned, and last night I started listing some of those things.

My oldest son, Chip, is an extremely compassionate, humble person. And, he knows how to plant and tend a garden. I’ve always believed that a person who can grow their own food will never go hungry.

Jessica has learned to control the angry feelings that overtake her sometimes. She understands that if she does lose control, she will not like the consequences, and that other people will not want to be around her. Also, despite all the doctors telling her she would never be toilet trained, at age 11 she did master that skill. So there, doctors!

Corey still has a lot to learn, but I think it is finally starting to click with him that if he chooses to not do his homework and study, he may fail in school. And when you fail in school, your plans for after graduation will be put on hold. One thing he has learned is to appreciate many different kinds of food. When he first joined my family almost 6 years ago, he didn’t want to eat much of anything other than junk food. Now, he will eat anything and everything that is put in front of him. Leftovers are a distant memory in my house.

Ashley has learned to stand up for herself, an extremely important quality for a person with a disability. She has also learned the value of charm and that a smile can bring many more rewards than a frown. She has exceeded and continues to exceed all the limits doctors placed on her as an infant. They were oh so wrong, and she works to prove that every single day.

Ronnie is still adjusting and learning how things work in our family. He is currently working on requesting and not demanding, thanking and not expecting. He has one of the sweetest hearts of any child I ever known, and now with the excellent role model he has in Chip, I predict great things for him. He needs to work a little more on self-sufficiency, but he seems very open to that, especially if he thinks it will get him the attention of a certain young lady in his class!!

So what skills make you and your children the proudest?

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