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Who’s the teacher here??

There is a lot of discussion around parents as first teachers. Rightly so, given that a baby typically has a very small pool of immediate carers.
I like to think I’m pretty good at it. We do a variety of activities: creative stuff, exploration (both in terms of their own physical development and the great outdoors), emergency literacy and numeracy, communication…etc, etc.
I remember reading about this stuff when I had my eldest child and I think I had a panic attack. Then I realised it’s super easy. At the playground? Count the number of swings in the swing up to 10/15/20. Use the climbing frames – up, down, under, over, through, around. Collect leaves and twigs in the woods and make a nest, explaining why.
At home? Baking! Measuring, stirring, mixing, rolling. Rub that butter and flour into breadcrumbs to develop fine motor skills (if you eat butter). Try not to wince too much at the mess…or the dreadful taste of the finished item!
Seriously, teaching young children is great fun. Well, unless it’s not. But we all know it’s not always sunshine and roses.
We’re often so busy rushing around being fabulous parents – or, in my case, pretending to be – that we miss the other learning that goes on.
Today I was cleaning up the kitchen. Miss 5 had pulled all three seat cushions from the sofa into the gap between the coffee table and the sofa itself. I really hate when the kids use the cushions to play, to be honest, but I also needed to get the kitchen cleaned up. Tactical ignoring had commenced. Mr Just-2 was toddling around happily and all was well.
I then heard Miss 5:
“Come on, you can do it. Like this.”
I looked up to see them both on the coffee table (another pet hate. Gah!).
Miss 5 was crawling on all fours across the large cushions onto the sofa. Her brother clearly wanted to follow. He moved forward, tested the wobble and then retreated.
She hopped off the sofa and stood beside him.
“You can do it! It’s easy! I’ll show you again.”
Over she went.
“Come on, your turn.”
I admit that, by this point, I had abandoned the washing up to watch this with interest.
Mr 2 again tested the bridge, but he was very doubtful. Helpful sister grabbed his hand and pulled. He yelled.
I was about to intervene when my daughter stopped and gave him a hug.
“I’ll hold you.”
Now I was the doubtful one. Miss 5 is extremely petite for her age and my toddler is probably the same weight as she is!
He started across and she kept her arm over his shoulders. When he made it over, she jumped up and down, clapped and generally made a fuss. His face was a picture of delight.
“You did it! Well done!”
Kids are much more creative than most adults. My daughter had basically just given her brother a brand new experience that I wouldn’t have thought of, building his confidence in how to use his body by crawling and balancing across unsteady surfaces. A simple thing, perhaps, but next time he comes across something tricky, he might be less nervous. He will certainly remember that he can trust his sister.
As for Miss 5, well done indeed. Patience, encouragement and giving praise – all wonderful qualities.
There are times when a child can learn from their peers and siblings. As a parent, stepping back and feeling redundant at these times can be an amazing experience.


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