Parents: The Most Important Teachers

… parents are a child’s most important teacher and home is the most important classroom.

There is nothing quite so magical as watching toddlers explore their world.

There are times when it almost seems that we can hear their brains whirring as they learn new things, they investigate their environment, and they seek to understand the world around them.

And yet, as magical as this is, one thing is certain: there are no magic answers to making it happen. There is only the magic of doing an awful lot of things right – as parents, as caregivers, as educators, and as a community.

It is then that we see the magic that comes in creating children whose cognitive development prepares them for what lies ahead in their lives. That’s why it is crucial that however we contribute to a child’s upbringing, we should begin with a seminal fact: there is no single button to push that ensures the healthy development of a child and there is no panacea that unlocks a bright future for every child. Rather, there is only the dedicated work every day of being a loving, nurturing parent and city.

We’ve been thinking about this lately because early childhood development seems to be on everyone’s radar at the local, state, and federal levels. As sometimes happens, rhetoric outruns reality and magical thinking overruns the research on early childhood development, so as you hear more, remember, it takes a latticework of things to develop children to their fullest.

For example, Pre-K matters and the more Memphis children who attend the better. It is inarguable that what is needed in our community is not a high-performing K-12 educational system, but a Pre-K-12 educational system. Now, children are five and six years old when they enter the classroom, but by then, their brains have grown to 80 percent of their adult sizes and events, experiences, and environment have already produced vital learning for them – both positive and negative.

In the past, Pre-K has been seen as an educational luxury but fortunately, it is more and more being seen as a necessity if we want to close the achievement gap and give every child a fair start in life. And yet, it is unrealistic to expect that our schools and our teachers should bear the brunt of the responsibility for the development of our children.

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