Teaching by example
Three steps for enhancing a child’s life skills
Children learn life skills by observing the adults in their lives. Therefore, if we want children to be socially and emotionally competent, Leah Davies advises we must be cognizant of our own behavior and accept responsibility for being a role model. She suggests three steps for developing this aspect of our teaching.
The first step is to think about the behaviors you would like children to develop, and then to reflect on how well you exemplify them. Here’s a possible check list of your own behavior to consider:
- Showing genuine warmth, respect and care
- Modeling honesty, dependability and fairness
- Fostering a sense of trust and acceptance
- Valuing individual differences
- Giving recognition freely
- Creating a peaceful environment
- Providing consistent structure
- Using natural or logical consequences
- Teaching problem solving skills
- Having high, but reasonable expectations
- Offering individual attention
- Demonstrating communication skills
- Listening carefully without interrupting
- Discussing feelings openly
- Acknowledging commendable behavior
- Being approachable
- Displaying a sense of humor
- Providing choices
- Celebrating successes
- Enjoying being with children
- Believing in each child’s worth, dignity and ability to learn
- Calling children by name
- Understanding that mistakes happen
- Giving negative feedback privately
- Establishing a positive, working relationship with parents
- Participating in worthwhile, community sponsored events
Next, answer the following questions:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Think about an educator who was one of your role models. What made him or her memorable?
- Note your opportunities for growth. Name one or more things you will try to do differently.
This self reflection will help you assess yourself as a role model for the life skills you are trying to develop in the children with whom you work.
Following this period of reflection, consciously role model the behaviors you would like your students to develop, perhaps keeping a journal of your thoughts and any development in their behavior. Very often this can become as much a part of your regular planning as your other learning objectives, and can be very powerful.
Leah Davies, M.Ed.
Leah Davies received her Master’s Degree from the Department of Counseling and Counseling Psychology, Auburn University. Her professional experience of over 44 years includes teaching, counseling, consulting, instructing at Auburn University, and directing educational and prevention services at a mental health agency.
See more from Leah at her Kelly Bar resources website http://www.kellybear.com/