I just read a great post about nine habits all kids should be learning, and it is a pretty nice summary of our priorities as both homeschoolers and parents, but few of these things are as simple as they sound, and they are far more inter-related that that checklist would indicate.
Take ‘Independence,’ and its kissing cousin ‘self-efficacy’, for examples. The other morning I woke up feeling less than stellar, and Big D really wanted a chocolate chip waffle, with requisite chocolate sauce on top. I suggested that she could make one herself, as she knew where the toaster was. “But they are in the freezer!” she said, semi-stunned, but also questioning if I really meant it. “…Yeah, they are,” I responded, making it clear that this was something she could tackle.
I soon heard her pull a chair over to the fridge, as well as the dry grindy sound of her moving things around in a freezer in dire need of defrosting. Then the sound of her condensing the spring in the toaster (which she had never used), and the sound of that same chair being dragged over to the cupboard for a plate, since someone (cough) had neglected to reload the kids’ place setting rack, which is in easy reach of our three year old *without* a chair. Pop! Up came the waffle, and I didn’t hear her say ouch, so I guess we had successfully modeled the use of tongs at some point in the past. Then the squishy/burpy sound of chocolate sauce being squeezed from the bottle, and “Ummm…” – the sound of a happy, proud of herself Big D. I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep, one lesson in self-efficacy witnessed before I even opened my eyes. >:)
The nine things Babauta lists as essential are:
- Asking questions
- Solving problems
- Tackling projects
- Finding passion
- Being happy on their own
- Dealing with change
Seems to me that several of these were found just in that moment of my feeling lousy and telling my kid to get her own darned breakfast. She asked if she could have one – she knows that the answer isn’t always yes, esp as she’s been dealing with a finicky stomach lately, and she’s learning to listen to her body (and Daddyman the RN’s advice) as to what she can eat and when. She also confirmed with me that I really thought she could do it herself. She was willing to solve the problem of doing this by herself, which for a kid with serious frustration tolerance issues is no small potatoes, and then she tackled the project, broke it down into its constituent parts, and saw the thing through to a yummy conclusion. Chocolate is a passion unto itself, QED. She didn’t whine or complain that she couldn’t do it herself, or even ask for help. I don’t know if she took my (albeit exhausted and ouchy) fait accompli attitude about it as confidence in her skillset or as permission to do something she already knew she could do, but either way she set about getting on with it independently. She loves having company for breakfast, and it breaks my heart a little each time she invites me to join her but first-of-the-morning-pain precludes me from joining my early riser as she desires. Ergo, she routinely eats by herself, singing happy little songs to herself between (or even during) bites. I don’t know if she really felt as capable going into this as she did once she was wiping chocolate off her chin, but she knew that I was in pain, and showed compassion by not asking me to put that aside to do it for her. She dealt with the change in circumstance (my more than normal pain) as well tried out two new appliances in one fell swoop, not to mention the tongs, so that is pretty good for before 7:30 in the morning.
The only place where this simple task of making her own nom-worthy breakfast did little bits of all of these things, except for one: Big D has not only not demonstrated tolerance in her waffle-making endeavors, she has actually demonstrated INtolerance for those different from her: I’ve seen her gawk at Daddyman when he says he doesn’t LIKE chocolate chip waffles with chocolate sauce.
We’ll have to work on that.Image from LeggoMyEggo.com.