Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
In early education, our schools focus primarily on reading, writing, and math. While these are obviously important tangible skills, there are other aspects to educating young children that are much more subtle. How do we teach our children about more abstract virtues such as courage, loyalty, and diligence? How do we instill a sense of responsibility and a sense of pride into young developing minds?
Much of this has to come from the home—from loving family guidance, family expectations, and family examples. A good time to encourage this process is during the holiday season, when senior family members are visiting. Ask the seniors to tell “family stories” to your young children.
All it takes is a few memorable family stories to make a lasting impact on a child. Children love to hear stories about the “old days.” Most can’t hear enough stories about their parents as youngsters. Grandparents are often delighted to tell stories to children about their parents, sometimes to the amusement or embarrassment of Mom or Dad!
Encourage senior family members to open up with questions about what they did when they were younger, and more importantly, why they did it.
Did you always live in the same house? Did you have your own room or did you have to share?
What did you do for fun in the winter time with no TV, computers, or video games? Is that why you like to read so much?
Or a child might ask about his own parents:
Did Dad like to play soccer, too?
What did Mom like to do when she was my age?
Young people often find these stories riveting. If possible, video or record the conversations so your child will have a lasting reminder of events. Take advantage of grandparents and other senior family members to give your child the gift of family history.