Play, Read, Travel, Smile and learn to fail by Gerard Duignan

All children have potential. Their curiosity, interest in relationships and in construction of their own learning with the environment around them is a unique and fascinating journey. Children should be considered as active citizens with rights, as contributing members, with their families and of their local community.
As adults we must consider the image of the child. Children are full . They are not an empty vessel which we need to fill with knowledge and facts. We must let children figure out the world through exploration and play. When a child comes up with a theory we must ask them questions and celebrate their hypothesizes. We must provide them with materials such as clay, wire and wire to give structure to their ideas and answer their questions and queries with even deeper and meaningful questions. In the digital age, children can find out the answer to question in seconds but we must celebrate their ideas and not dictate reality too quickly. The world of fantasy is a unique place for a child and it becomes closed too early for some. We must celebrate imagination, creativity and inspirational ideas. Who are we to say that children are wrong, Who are we to simply answer their questions and cease the journey of imagination for them? Start answering their questions with questions and empower the child to keep wondering for longer.
As an parent, the greatest gift you can give a child is time. Play with your child. Sit on the floor with them and dress up. Narrate their play and help them problem solve. You do not need the latest toys or gadgets. Create an area in your home with natural materials such as plants and shells. Locate different fabrics with unique patterns and textures. Let your child dress up and become a character not dictated by a cartoon or movie. A projected image may inspire your child and some soundtracks can transform an area into your home to a jungle, rainforest, dessert or icy cavern.
Read with your child. Little and often is the key. Parents must be enthusiastic about reading but not push their child. Set out 30 minutes each weekend where they see you reading a real book or newspaper. They can relax with their favourite picture book and enjoy the limitless possibilities of story. Read with them before bedtime and use picture books as a tool to develop comprehension. High and lower order questioning will challenge your child to delve deeper into the book and not just read the text.
Explore the city. Take a long tailed boat, visit the library, visit the wet markets, visit one museum each month, walk in the city parks, explore the national parks, visit the library, take a train and …. Get lost
Promote a Growth Mindset for your child. Celebrate mistakes, let your child fail, tell them about your successes and failures . Mistakes are important and children will become more resilient. Manners and respect are key. Manners will never go out of fashion. Children should respect those who care and love them. Empower them to greet others with eye contact in a cheery manner. Please and Thank you are easy to say and brighten up everyone’s day. Model good manners yourself and your child will follow suit.
Travel. When a child can carry their own backpack, bring them on adventures. Sleep under the stars, cook on a bbq and watch the sunset / sunrise. Leave the resorts and stay in a tent. Your child will love the adventure and will have great fun. Tell your child you love them. Do this everyday.
No is a kind word. Do not be afraid to use it. You don’t need to explain yourself. When they understand that No means No, they will be in a more certain place.
Gerard Duignan is a Kindergarten Coordinator in a leading International School in Bangkok. He has taught in Ireland for 9 years and then embarked on an International career in Thailand. Gerard has expertise in Early Years Education.

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