Time is a fundamental element in the development of children. Having time and giving time. Children in the P3 stage, for example, when they are 3 years old, can do a ton of things on their own. And you have to let them ask for help instead of anticipating their needs. “Let’s help them when they want to be helped.” “Giving the child time without pressuring them to go faster is what gives them confidence. You can not learn with tension.”
For example, these days many schools are already prepared so that children can do their routines at their own pace. “Obviously, on days when we have a field trip, they all know that they should go to the bathroom before getting on the bus because they’ll have to go a long time without being able to reach a bathroom. But what’s the point of forcing them to go to the bathroom when we’re in the classroom and everyone knows where the bathroom is? We teach them that when they have to go, they can just go, we do not force them to go when the teacher thinks they should. Giving them that freedom, that responsibility, and that autonomy, gives them self-confidence.“
It is important to not force children to do things. Instead, we should wait for them to be prepared. Sometimes we want to encourage them too much to complete certain activities, for example, going down a slide, or what height they can jump from. If they do not want to do it, they won’t do it, it is important to let them decide when they want to do based on the activities because that’s the way to encourage their self-confidence.
Routines like putting shoes on after taking a nap are important in their development. “There are children who take longer than others to put their shoes on, but if we give each one their time to put them on, and each one learns at their own pace, they will go faster and faster!
Pilar considers the stages from 2 to 4 years old, to be marvelous because children want to do everything by themselves. She thinks that many times we cut their wings and discourage them without realizing it. If a child has been able to put on their shoes by themselves, but they have put them on backwards, let’s ignore the result. Let’s focus on the achievement of putting on their shoes themselves, and let them be for a while. Let them wear the shoes backwards that they took so much effort to put on. Do not run to correct them because that will detract from their confidence. “What counts the most is the desire they have to do things for themselves, not focusing on the result.
Generating the expectation that they can solve things by themselves, gives them security in every area. For example, being able to open your backpack when you arrive at school, getting your things and putting them in their places are important habits for them and they must do at their own pace and not be hurried or with pressure.
Today she tells us that she detects a severe imbalance at an educational level. On the one hand, we want every 3-year-old to be a super-child and we fill the agenda with extracurricular activities to stimulate them. We run the risk of creating hyperactive children. On the other hand, as parents we tend to overprotect, creating a tension with the hyper-stimulus kids receive.
6. Be careful with toys
With respect to toys, she says we tend to put toys with 1,000 functions, lights and music in their hands and these stimulate them so much that they can not develop their creativity with the game and we can actually generate stress in them. At that stage, she recommends toys that do nothing because they are what allow children to develop their imagination. Wood, unlike plastic, always has different textures, which help them develop their imagination. Younger children will enjoy and learn more touching objects made from wood and fine materials than with plastic.
7. Don’t let them hate food
Food, something that worries many parents who have difficulties making their children eat. Pilar thinks it is very important to give children the opportunity to taste. Eating is not the same as tasting. For example, if chickpeas are brought into your diet, do not force them to eat an entire plateful on the first day, let them taste whatever they like and leave. This does not mean letting them eat whatever they want. We just need to be respectful when introducing new foods into their diet to avoid complete rejection. If somebody gave us an entire plateful of snails the first time we ever tried them, we would most likely loathe them.
8. Affection and love at home
As a conclusion and so that no one gets frustrated in their role as mother or father, Pilar tells us that in general, we have a very busy life rhythm that often prevents us from giving children time to do things on their own.
Especially on weekday mornings. And it’s okay. Stop explaining to them that we have a meeting that day and if we let them dress on their own we’ll be late, or saying that they have to hurry to eat their breakfast. Many times we can not resolve the situation by getting up earlier, sometimes when you can’t do something you just can’t. And children are perfectly capable of understanding that things are rushed in those moments. However, she recommends compensating it with giving them that time on weekend mornings.
In this manner, she explains the big difference between the education they receive at school and the one they receive at home. At school, there are 25 children and that requires teachers to be very organized and that the children must make an effort to follow the group and adapt. But not at home. “At home, the most important thing that we can do is to provide them with affection and love. Always educating, but making them feel loved and valued is something that is mainly done at home.”
Few weeks ago, we looked up our teacher from when we were little to tell her about Little champions and our philosophy. We thought about Pilar Melcón as she is one of those unconventional teachers who changes you for life forever.
Pilar puts herself on the same level as her children and brings out the best in them. After a pleasant talk with her about her passion, early childhood education, she gave us these 8 useful insights for both parents and educators to keep in mind when interacting with children to help them become great citizens of the future.
Interview by Andrea Zazurca, rocket mom and co-founder of Little champions