Page 4 - FIS World November 2016
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The Importance of Parenting
Ongoing lessons in what we teach to – and learn from – our children
Ibelieve we all would agree that learning takes place both in the classroom and in
the living room. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the most important lessons in life are about building a person’s character, and these are clearly taught at home and in school. I recently read an article by Zachary and Jessica Herrmann from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that a rmed my thinking on this subject.
“win” to give a player positive feedback. In the same way, we all need to be looking for opportunities to “catch children doing something right” and help build their con dence incrementally. I don’t want to wait for the next report card to o er a thumbs up. Instead, I have been looking for small things, like my son starting his homework without being reminded, to let him know I appreciate his growing independence.
Finally, I’ve noticed a lot of our
FIS parents work hard to create a home culture that is conducive to optimal learning. This means building an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and, equally important, comfortable in making mistakes. The students in our homes and classrooms need to know that we support their willingness to take appropriate risks, such as trying out for a part in a musical or expressing their views to adults during a dinner party. In doing so, we are making sure our children are planted in fertile ground instead of having their growth limited by adult constraints, like a plant that becomes root-bound in a pot that is too restrictive.
Whether it’s called coaching, teaching, mentoring or parenting, our children need us to take our job seriously. I can’t think of a skill that doesn’t require intentional practice to master at the highest level. Nor can I think of a skill that is more important than having an impact on the life of a child.
Paul M. Fochtman Head of School
The article suggested that
teachers could learn many
valuable lessons from sport
coaches because much of what a coach teaches is about building character and inner strength. In the same way, as a father, I recognized that these were many of the same skills that I try to build at home with my own observations.
First, savvy parents realize that they can only help a child if they are appropriately taking care of them- selves. Just as an airline attendant tells us to  rst put on our own oxygen mask before applying a child’s, we need to make sure that we are modeling the values and habits we want children to learn. When I see an FIS parent taking the time to volunteer at the school or join a REAL class, I know that their children are also bene ting.
While it’s important to actively model the actions we want to teach, it’s also important to know that children are learning from us even when we think we are “o  duty.” Children’s brains are wonderfully absorbent and are constantly picking up both verbal and nonverbal messages. In this respect, we’re always teaching a lesson, even if many of those lessons are unintentional and given when we think no young ears or eyes are on us.
On the playing  eld with my son Jack
The Herrmanns write that a good coach “must ensure that everyone develops to the best of his or her ability.”While this seems obvious, too often we set standards or expectations that are not unique to the child. We may want a son to be as capable in math as his sister or a daughter to be as outgoing as her brother. We may expect a student to learn a new language at the same rate as his or her friend. I am always impressed when I see a parent going to great lengths to support the individuality of a child, even when that may be greatly di erent from that parent’s own interests or goals.
Savvy parents realize that they
can only help a
child if they are appropriately taking care of themselves.
Another skill I am working on in my own family is scheduling more time for celebrations. Great coaches know that you don’t wait until there is a
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