Memo to Moms and Dads

​​Parents are the child’s first teacher

Well, before you know it, school will be open again!  Good news for some…not so good for others.  Either way, school WILL be open again here in Okaloosa County come Monday morning August 18.
Dear parents, before these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are over, how about spending some quality time with your little angels teaching them the everyday niceties such as how to say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, “I’m sorry” etc? 
You’d be surprised to know how many parents rely on the teachers (including after school programs) to teach their little ones things they should learn at home…way before school begins. 
This goes the same for being able to tie their own shoes, wash their hands before eating, wash their hands after using the bathroom, teaching boys where to aim when using the bathroom and more of the little life lessons that make life easier for the rest of us.
Teachers, as some may have forgotten, are basically there to teach our little pumpkins academics…such as reading, writing and arithmetic.
Teachers need all the time they have (and more) just to keep order and do the everyday basics of education.
Parents, you are your child’s first teacher.  It is such a blessing to have a child…spend time teaching…and less time staring at a screen, including the “boob tube”, computers, PlayStations, hand-held gadgets and all that other “techie” stuff.  It’s great to know how to use these things, but we also need to learn, and teach our kids, how to hold a decent conversation with real live people.
I remember when my one and only was a toddler, I felt great joy in reading to her, teaching her how to read, how to count, how to recognize various animals, colors, shoe-tying and many other things that her little head could hold.  It was fun!  What could be more fun than seeing your child’s eyes light up when they know how to spell their own name?  And know that you’re the one that taught them?  My little one even knew her own address, telephone number, her Grandma’s phone number and her New Jersey Aunt’s number.
She had her own little Bible…plus her favorite book: “Charlie Said…Charlie Did”.  I must have read that book to her about a zillion times!  Yes, I’m kind of exaggerating…I think!
The time will come when your child will begin to learn things on the street….some not so good.
 There are many lessons to teach a child…and they learn best by example. 
If we want our children to tell the truth, then WE must tell the truth.  And don’t think for a minute that a child doesn’t know when we’re being dishonest.  Sometimes when we think children aren’t paying attention, they really are.  So be careful when speaking of other people around your child…they imitate us every chance they get.
Have you ever seen a child watch her mom put on lipstick? She immediately copies her movements….even without the actual lipstick.
Patience is the key! Don’t expect your child to learn how to tie his shoe or spell his name correctly without trial and error.   Do expect your child to WANT to learn….their little brains are like sponges.  Everything can be a learning experience.  When your child gives you a picture he colored, immediately say “thank you”.  He’ll learn manners by having you display them to him, not just expecting him to magically know.  You as the parent should model good behavior.  If you’re always cussing like a sailor….don’t be so surprised when your child follows suit.
When your child begins school, as a rule, teachers teach without the kind of love that a parent can give.  Children must feel loved and secure.  Without an atmosphere of love and support, it is much harder to teach a child anything. 
When teaching your child the basic rules, be clear and consistent.  If you constantly change the rules, your child becomes confused and uncertain.
Rewards work!  Sometimes a hug and a response such as “good job” goes a long way.
Discipline works!  Be consistent even when it feels easier to throw your hands in the air and say “I give up!”   Don’t give up….it may seem easy now, but you’ll regret it later…when the child is REALLY out of control! 
It is truly amazing what you can teach a child when he is young…and open to suggestion.
A good friend of mine is a retired Juvenile Justice Probation Officer.  I met him many years ago as he spoke to a room-full of pre-teens, teens and their parents.  He told the parents to please spend more time with their children now so that he wouldn’t have to spend time with them later. 
Parents, take the time to teach your child…and not wait for someone else to do the job for you. 
Your child is a fragile gift….handle with care.   Be the first teacher.
Written by Nellie Bogar and printed in the NWF Daily News, August 2014