Hold them close
I am no longer going to number my entries in the form of chapters – I plan to write this for a long time so it seems pointless to continue to add chapters.
This entry is a little different and probably my most important one to date. Reading, writing and learning about the calendar are all great lessons but no lesson is as important as remembering to express love and appreciation for our children. In light of the recent events in Brooklyn, it is more evident than ever that every day with our children is a blessing. As parents, celebrating their unique qualities is the greatest gift we can give them. Nothing makes a little one feel more loved and appreciated than being able to express themselves in a safe and comfortable environment.
Giving children freedom to be themselves and to develop at their own pace are vital parts of their development. There are so many simple ways to do this; we are patient, we laugh at their jokes and stories, we let them wear mismatched and backwards clothes when they decide they want to pick out their outfits.
Sometimes, it is difficult to find the words to express these thoughts to a child. Books are a perfect solution; they give us the ability to tell our children exactly what we are feeling and teach them life long lessons. I wanted to share some of my favorite books that celebrate children’s individuality and independence.
The first selection is one I used in my classroom often and will use with my son as well. Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus is a charming tale of a tiger named Leo who is not developing at the same pace as his fellow tigers. His dad is concerned, although his mother is not. She knows that he will develop in his own time, when he is ready. Often, we expect our children to meet certain milestones at specific times and children compare themselves to each other. We must remind ourselves and them that everyone is an individual and although some later than others, they all will develop the skills they need to be successful. The goal is to be proud of who you are and not who you are supposed to be in life.
I wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe is another book that helps demonstrate the importance of being unique. A cricket wishes desperately he was a beautiful butterfly after being told that he is not special. He is reminded by his friend the spider that each of us are special and have a unique gift to share with the world. It is filled with beautiful illustrations that help children learn to be proud of who they are.
Every person, child or adult, has days where they feel sad, frustrated or happy. Understanding what each of these feelings mean and learning how to articulate them are extremely healthy for children. Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis is the perfect way to explain different emotions to a child. The clever poems give children the words they often cannot find to express how they are feeling.
At the end of the day, all we wish for is that our sons and daughters know how much they are truly loved and valued. When we need help expressing this or need reinforcement, curl up in bed with your children, hold them close, read to them and end the night with an I Love You.