(Ep. 3) Parent Teacher Conference, Early Childhood Edition: Fostering Independence at Home & School

Fostering independence in three, four, and five year olds may sound like a paradox, but in this episode of Parent Teacher Conference, Kim Sewell (PK4 faculty member and mom of three not-so-tiny young adults) and Leslie Hambrick (parent to Jimbo, kindergarten, and Charlie, PK4) discuss the successes and challenges they have had both at home and school toward these ends.  In other words, we explore the conundrum that parents and teachers share, well-articulated by Kim: “if we do our job well, we work ourselves out of the job.” Enjoy the entire conversation, or skip to the themes that interest you using the timestamps below:

  • Why the most convenient moves aren’t always the best “long view” approaches: parenting and teaching children that will grow into well rounded, independent adults (1:35-4:25)
  • How involving all young children in cooking (and other challenges) sets the stage for vital resilience in the face of life’s inevitable messes (5:02-6:27; 9:26-10:50)
  • What Montessori isn’t and what Montessori is: the centrality of modeling, works, safe structure, and giving children tools they can manage (6:50-8:45)
  • Real talk on the difficulties of following youth’s interest and fostering independence . . . and why they are still worth it (11:08-12:30; 15:25-16:00)
  • The history of Maria Montessori and how she came upon her methods to ultimately build a more peaceful world (12:48-15:00)
  • It’s not a free-for-all; how to avoid chaos by slowly easing your way into choice for youth (16:43-19:38)
  • PK4 classroom footage brought to us by Seesaw along with a description of jobs and routines that Kim uses to foster independence (20:12-22:57)
  • Promoting motor skill development at home and in the classroom (23:05-26:20)
  • How preparing snacks and gardening can build foundational mathematical thinking; “using the materials and the child you have in front of you” to build on (27:10-30:25)
  • “What happened at school today?” and the home/school connection (31:08-32:27)
  • Celebrating cultural identities at home and at school (33:09-35:20) 
  • Parenting as a roller coaster and the reminder to stay calm because “you have years with these kids” (36:40-37:37)
  •  “If you do parenting well you work yourself out of the job”; why fostering independence is “a gift of love over and over”, a series of “slow deaths” (37:50-39:14)
  • Final words of wisdom from both guests: trusting children and regulating your own emotions as an adult (40:55-41:32)

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