There are actu­al­ly par­ents out there in the world who can’t take their 3 year old and their infant to the super­mar­ket, together?

That was a con­ver­sa­tion I over­heard between sev­er­al moth­ers this week!

I was aston­ished. Not that I haven’t heard it before. Peo­ple for whom I’ve worked in the past have told me “I nev­er take my daugh­ter to the super­mar­ket” and that was just one child. 

The same par­ent asked me a cou­ple of years lat­er (when child num­ber two came along) “How do you take two chil­dren to the park?” That did­n’t seem com­pli­cat­ed to me — one was in the pushchair and the oth­er was on her bike or on occa­sion walked and ran beside me — once she was mobile it real­ly was­n’t an issue — and we had two dif­fer­ent routes to the same park just to make a change!

Now that I reflect on the fam­i­ly, it was the father of those chil­dren who met me one day at a park just down the street from his par­ents’ home. The girls were climb­ing, slid­ing and bal­anc­ing on a love­ly big wood­en climb­ing frame. As the father approached us and saw his girls he said “they can’t……” to which I jumped in and said “they already have”! I guess he had no idea of their abil­i­ties or was too anx­ious or too quick to jump to his, shall we say ‘author­i­tar­i­an’, conclusion.

Which takes me to par­ent­ing styles. I recent­ly read descrip­tions of dif­fer­ent par­ent­ing styles in one of those free ‘par­ent and child’ news­pa­pers. The author pro­posed four cat­e­gories of par­ent­ing styles; I’m para­phras­ing here:

Author­i­tar­i­an — pret­ty much ‘my way or the highway’
Author­i­ta­tive — using lan­guage, rea­son and log­ic from the beginning
Demo­c­ra­t­ic — vir­tu­al­ly total­ly free choice — often con­fus­es children
Wish-washy — self explana­to­ry! (or none of the above!)

The author deed­ed ‘Author­i­ta­tive Par­ent­ing’ the most effec­tive. From expe­ri­ence and obser­va­tion, I agree.

Which also got me think­ing about cer­tain meth­ods of edu­ca­tion, such as Montes­sori. With Montes­sori there seems to be the pre­vail­ing (US?) opin­ion that the teacher remains total­ly pas­sive and ‘obser­vant’. Of course from pre­vi­ous blogs you will know some of my impres­sions of the obser­va­tion method as Montes­sori has been por­trayed in my most recent experience.(Some of you have been kind enough to con­tra­dict that opin­ion and I appre­ci­ate your obser­va­tions and comments).

Depend­ing on how the pro­gramme is deliv­ered I would say you might find teach­ers work­ing with the chil­dren in some of the same ways as the above par­ent­ing styles. In each case the only one to be effec­tive is prob­a­bly the ‘author­i­ta­tive’ way.

It just so hap­pens that more often than not I am author­i­ta­tive in all my encoun­ters with young chil­dren. Would you believe that they are active and enthu­si­as­tic learn­ers and quick­ly remem­ber what we did togeth­er, even sev­er­al weeks on AND I rarely have behav­iour prob­lems even with the most challenging? 

Of course it’s not that easy but I am pas­sion­ate about being around and edu­cat­ing young chil­dren (ask my hus­band who now rolls his eyes when I start talk­ing about my day at work!). But it comes nat­u­ral­ly to me!

Which takes me back to the par­ents who can’t take two chil­dren to the super­mar­ket. What exact­ly have they been doing or not doing, learn­ing with or teach­ing, their 3 year olds that makes them so impos­si­ble to man­age? Could they have been in a US ‘Montes­sori’ school?

I won­der?