Thursday, August 22, 2013

ELECT vs The Mother-in-law

Disclaimer: The mother in-law described in this post is merely the one-sided depiction by an individual and by no means should be used as a broad generalization of all mother in-laws. J
Last week we had a client come to one of our playgroups seeking affirmation of her parenting skills.  Her 3.8 year old child will be starting junior kindergarten this September and she was worried she wasn’t doing enough to prepare her child.  It turns out her mother-in-law had helped sow the seeds of parental anxiety by telling her that her child should already be doing seat work and learning to read and write.  In essence, the child was spending far too much time playing!  Although the mother of the young child knew that play was good and that her child was learning, she wanted to stand behind her conviction with some documented proof.

In this case, our client would probably have been pleased with a hand written note from our staff to her mother-in-law stating she was right and mother-in-law was wrong.  Instead, we referred her back to the ELECT document filled with brilliant statements of principles like “Play is a means to early learning...” and an exhaustive continuum of development demonstrating “playful” interactions that develop domains and skills.  Thanks to the idea submitted by Vanier Community Resource Centre, we also started developing activity sheets letting parents know what children are learning when doing specific activities and how parents can extend the play.  Mom can also take these back to her mother-in-law to assure her that the child is learning while playing.

Our elders are a wealth of knowledge and experience, but I’m glad that we were able to re-affirm this mother’s conviction about the value of play by using the ELECT document.  Knowing how important family is to a child’s growth and development, I hope that in the near future we’ll be seeing child, mom, and grandmother all playing and learning together!

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