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Patriot Perspective: Roots and wings - a lifelong parent, child relationship process

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The often-noted Hodding Carter quotation states, “There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.”

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Knowing when to hold on to your children and ground them is important, but it is also a sign of wisdom to know when to allow or encourage them to sprout their wings.

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes are a time for parents to learn about their children and their developing abilities and give the children a safe place to sprout their wings.

How do I know this? The parents who participated in the fall 2013 ECFE classes shared a variety of comments on their end-of-class evaluation forms. The comments tell what their child learned in ECFE and what the parents have tried to do differently as a result of being in the ECFE class.

Emerging themes from the parent comments were: “I enjoyed seeing my child interact with others;” “My child is becoming more independent;” and “We got ideas of activities to do at home, based on the activities offered in their ECFE class.”

Parents in an ECFE class enjoyed having one-on-one time with their child, were reassured to learn that other parents struggle with similar parenting issues, and learned about age-appropriate activities to do with their child.

Parenting topics discussed included understanding temperament and in-born traits, gathering ideas for discipline techniques, mealtimes and bedtime schedules, TV/screen time and shared reading times. Parenting skills can be enhanced with conscious thought to the parent and child interaction.

Parents shared their delight in watching their child achieve an age-appropriate milestone such as rolling over, walking, smiling at a friend and being able to share a toy.

Children can “spread their wings” and try these new experiences when they have the parent support to give them roots in a safe place to return to from their venture into independence. Child experiences include art projects, singing, circle time, reading, games, toys and lots of options.

Most ECFE classes include a separate parent class, which enables the child to have a child/peer-only class time, too. This first exposure to school creates a positive tone for future school attendance.

Craft projects expose a child to a variety of concepts such as colors, shapes and sizes; use of various materials like paint, glue, scissors, tape, cutting paper, torn paper, markers and color crayons; following directions, creative processes and specific skills like holding a paint brush and cutting with a scissors for children age 3 and older.

The fine motor skills that are developed through these projects are associated with later developmental work needed to hold a pencil and print letters. ECFE teachers are intentional in the selection of age-appropriate projects for each age-based ECFE class to do.

Parents who attend ECFE can see the value in this opportunity for the parent and the child, and both want to come to class more often or have more weeks of class per session.

Developing “roots and wings” begins early in the parent and child life cycle. Find out more about the Pequot Lakes Early Childhood Family Education program by calling 218-562-7520 or go to pequotlakes.k12.mn.us and look up Early Childhood classes to gather more information.

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