Of the many forehead-thumping revelations that come with parenting preschoolers, not least is this one: our little ones teach us a whole lot more than we teach them.
Or at least it often feels that way, especially when we are trying to teach them something.
More often than not, their approach subtly, or not so subtly, turns the tables, and we parents end up on the receiving end of the life lesson.
Sure, we don't need a refresher course on the alphabet, and we have been tying our shoes for decades now without thinking of it as a struggle. But spend a day watching a preschool-aged child go about her business, and you'll realize that it is she, not you, who tries things again and again to get it right. Who stops and puzzles and keeps turning a problem around in her head (or her hands) until she makes it work. Who thinks of an imaginative fix around a dead-end. Who is far more patient than you might have guessed.
All this, while you are zipping in and out of traffic, trying in vain to do three things at once and blowing your top at the slightest provocation.
And yes, that same more-patient-than-rumored preschooler offers plenty of provocation sometimes. But still, the point is: we parents have a lot of learn from these kids. We teach them, we learn.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children has a great article on helping toddlers become problem solvers. It's particularly clever when you substitute "grown-ups" for toddlers and re-read it. Not that you need to remind yourself about how a plastic bowl can be an open-ended learning experience, but perhaps we all need a refresher course in patience, creative thinking, reflective self-awareness, and how to solve a vexing puzzle by turning the pieces around again.
Instead of honking at all that traffic.
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