For the Parent
To Teach or Not ot Teach
As a parent, you may be teaching your child at home, or you may want to take him or her to a class with a teacher. The observations, ideas, and suggestions presented here are valid in both cases. You are not obligated to agree with everything presented here, or to follow it. We hope you will seriously consider what is presented, reflect on it, and act in the best way you can for your child.
This class is for toddlers, from 1 through 3 years of age. By the time your baby becomes a toddler he or she will have stumbled into a wider world outside your home. The park, the store, the yard, even the sidewalk and everything in them and around them is a vista into this vast, new world.
You are the guiding light. You are the shining teacher. You are your child’s best friend and protector. In addition to taking care of basic needs your job is expanding rapidly. Your child looks to you for comfort and continuity, for the comfort and safety of daily routines. Your child trusts you.
Your child is learning that the world is ordered by the discipline of yes and no, or obeying, cooperating, and not. Your child looks to you for answers and you can best help him or her to be curious about everything and to learn to ask questions about anything.
This class can be taken on line with you as the parent or guardian as teacher or it can be taken with you as an active participant with your child in a local Baha’i community school. There you will interact with other parents and their children in a face-to-face class.
You do not have to follow the learning plans presented here. You can modify them or make your own and use the resources and activities as a supplement to what you want to do. In fact, if you are a teacher, or if you are designing lessons for your child, we would love to hear from you. Please share your ideas, your experiences. It will help everyone.
Inside of Class
Toddlers develop at different rates so be happy if your toddler sits still and pays attention to the lesson longer than a minute or two. Toddlers are easily distracted and often jump from one thing to another at the drop of a hat. That’s normal for 1 and 2 year olds. By age 3, toddlers are better prepared to listen and learn, but attention spans are still very short.
Some toddlers may potty train earlier than your child, or walks, or talks before your child. Everyone is different. By the time your toddler becomes a preschooler, he or she will most likely be able to walk, talk, and go potty. Some toddlers will even be able to read and count.
There are some things that almost all toddlers have in common. Toddlers have very short attention spans. They are easily distracted. They are impulsive. They often don’t listen. In short, toddlers are very independent. That’s why a parent needs to be patient, very patient.
If you and your child are in a class with other toddlers, you must be present and active in class, every class. At times, your child is probably shy and quiet around strangers. They trust you and feel comfortable when you are around. In short, you are the teacher’s best helper. You are an extra set of eyes and ears, arms and legs.
Parents make this class work. The toddler needs a parent to be present and actively engaged with. Sit with your child or next to him or her. It is okay to do the work with them. Let them see you drawing and coloring, dancing, and doing everything else. They need to see how it is done. They need to copy you, to emulate you. You should preview the lesson plan for the next class so that you will be ready to participate.
Many toddlers want to stay near mommy or daddy. That’s a good way to help your child learn faster and feel more comfortable if you are in a class. If you are in a class, follower the teacher’s led. The parent being in the classroom also helps when your little one has to visit the potty. It won’t disrupt class if you slip out for a few minutes and then quietly return.
Other toddlers have an independent spirit. Use that independence to your advantage. If you have previewed the lesson plan you know what the teacher wants to accomplish during class. You have access to the goals and objectives of the class and each lesson. The learning plan for each class is filled with activities that are designed to be simple, short, fun, and easy to understand. You have a forum to communicate with other parents about issues that are important to you, and you have the contact information for each teacher should you have questions.
Expect Big, Beautiful Chaos
Expect a certain amount of chaos in a toddler class. It’s okay. It’s normal. Even if you are teaching your child from your home, expect chaos.
Prepare yourself before class begins and deal with chaos the best you can. Remember you are doing this for the benefit of your child, Better yet embrace the chaos and flow with the ups and downs and the twists and the turns. If you as the teacher can do that teaching toddlers will be fun and tremendously rewarding. You will often see growth and development beyond your highest imagination.
If the chaos is unsettling you can still do it. You can still help teach your child or be part of a class. It will just be a bit more stressful until you learn that it’s all good. You can’t teach a child calculus but you can put them on the path of spiritual development, cultivating virtues, building a strong character, and instilling a love of learning. That’s more important than any academic subject the child will learn later on.
It is amazing how well toddlers can focus for longer periods of time when they become interested in something. If a toddler really wants to play with playdough nothing else will matter and they will play quietly far longer than you thought possible. Yet, on another day, the toddler will show little or no interest in playing with playdough.
Toddlers, like adults, have good days and bad. They have periods when they really enjoy doing one thing, maybe to the exclusion of everything else. And like us, they may change their mind and want to do something else. That’s okay. If they throw a temper tantrum, or are just having a bad day, take them out side and let them roam around exploring. Maybe you can both return to class in a few minutes.
If you are able to spark the sense of curiosity about life and living, your toddler will almost always want to try something new. Curiosity is one of the key virtues that should be cultivated in babies as soon as they are older enough to understand that their world is bigger than mommy and daddy.
Curiosity is the driving force that propels the toddler to try new things. Coupled with an innate sense of fun, you can provide the specific activities that will introduce the concepts behind the virtues that are the building blocks of spirituality and character building.
Be positive when you introduce new words and new concepts. Keep your words short and simple. Speak slowly and deliberately. Smile and let them know with your body language and movements that it is okay to have fun, and that it is fun to learn new things and try new things. If you can do all that teaching your toddler can be the most rewarding and fun age group to work with.