by Belinda Bray
Director of Wellbeing
It is easy to be caught up in the day to day challenges of family life, but are you parenting for the long game?
Naomi Taylor is a Prep Teacher Aide here at Highlands Christian College. She has four girls of her own, ranging from middle school to university age. She has a wealth of experience and is able to bring this into her family and the classroom.
Staying connected is really important to the Taylor family. Something they prioritize is eating dinner together regularly, even if that happens in shifts. Naomi says that the time sitting around the table is when they solve the problems of the world and the girls get to get things off their chests. On the weekends, they like to build a campfire together and enjoy family time out under the stars.
When asked what Naomi and her husband Andrew’s parenting philosophy is, she said that they want their children to be prepared for whatever is coming next.
Parenting changes depending on the different ages of the children. Small children tend to have small problems that can be solved relatively easily. Naomi has found, teenagers can be trickier, and they process things internally and are not always able to articulate what they are processing.
When you read the story of Job in the bible, you see that when he lost absolutely everything, his friends came and sat with him in the dust. Naomi says this is how she and Andrew approach parenting teens. When one of their girls is struggling, the Taylors ‘sit with them in the dust’ and let them know its going to be okay.
Naomi and Belinda have known each other for a long time, they have children in the same grade so have been mummy friends for years. It feels as if so much has changed since the days waiting outside classrooms for their little ones. They have noticed that there is a lot more comparison that happens and social media doesn’t help this at all. This comparison can lead parents to worry that their child is not achieving at the same rate as other children.
Being a Prep Teacher Aide, Naomi is on the ground with our youngest students as they begin their school journey. Naomi has some tips on getting the most out of prep.
- Be Prepared – Practically
If your child has shoes with laces, make sure that they can tie them. If they have a new lunchbox, make sure they can open it themselves. Teach them to recognize their written name so they can find their things.
- Get enough sleep
Children need a lot of sleep. Particularly preppies who are learning so much. Getting enough sleep sets them up to be able to concentrate and learn for the next day.
- Set some time aside to read
By taking some time to help your child with reading will set them up for the rest of their school journey. It can be as simple as going through site words or books or even reading signs around the place.
It is helpful to think of preppies as seedlings; small changes to conditions can bring about big responses. Older students with more growth and development can withstand a lot more change and challenge. Preppies just need that little bit more.
Tips for Parenting for the Long Game:
- Put on your own oxygen mask first
To look after others, you have to look after yourself. Take some time to do something you love to do or that fills you up. It doesn’t take a lot, a walk or a hair cut or something just for you is important.
- Do things together as a family
There is no such thing as giving your family too much time. Find as many ways as you can to spend time together. This doesn’t need to cost money, it can be simple things like gardening or doing the grocery shopping together.
- Model the behaviors you want to see in your children
It is important that if we want our children to be kind, tidy, helpful and able to say sorry when we have done something wrong, that we model these. It isn’t always easy, but if our aim is to raise great adults, then this is important.
- Be clear, predictable and follow through with discipline
Rather than focusing on consistency, Naomi says it is far more important to be predictable. If a child knows the boundaries and expectations, you have more opportunities to parent with kindness. Building a strong relationship with your child is important and is the best base to discipline from.
- Allow failure to be a teacher
In the classroom, Naomi uses the simple process of:
This works just as well in the home as it does in the prep classroom. I will show you. We will do it together. Now, you try.