Monday, September 29, 2014

Qualifications for Working With Kids

Ok- Sophia is only four, but already, we have experienced our share of coaches, teachers, instructors etc.. Some definitely better than others. It is with these experiences as well as my experience working directly with child care providers as well as being a parent that I write these qualifications. If you are working in ANY capacity with children, these are the things I feel you MUST possess and if you don't meet these- you seriously should look into a different position... just sayin'. :)

1. Sing and Dance- OK- if you spent a night in our home you would see a lot of shimmy shakin' and high pitched singing to "Let It Go." Oh and did I mention that we love Disney Junior's song "Get up and Dance." If you have kids and haven't seen this- please go find it. Now. If you are working with kids in any way, I think you MUST have a bad voice and bad dance moves but rock it out anyway. If you are at all self conscious about this, it's ok, kids don't care- they'll just love that you are doing it right along with them.

2. Animated Facial Expressions- Again, along with singing and dancing, you must be animated. Make BIG facial expressions- exaggerate your happy, sad, angry faces. They go crazy for this. I've seen teachers who are reading a book with the most solemn face and a slo o o o w, monotone voice- then Joey is pulling Lucy's hair and we wonder what the heck is wrong with Joey. Again, if you are reading, singing, or talking to kiddos in general- have fun with it and SMILE or get up and growl like the bear in "Going on a Bear Hunt."

3. BE SILLY and have fun for gosh sakes!- the above items can definitely fit under this umbrella but c'mon- if you are working with kids, this is one of the most important qualifications you can have. Your ability to make a kid laugh makes the difference for a boring, potentially disastrous day to a fun, lively, adventurous day. We've all seen the show, "Kids Say the Darndest Things," and it's true. Spend a day with a room of 3-4 year olds and you have yourself an instant comedy show. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a room where I have had to hide my smiles and laughs because apparently the teacher did not find it amusing when Joey spilled the entire bottle of glue and proceeded to lick it off the table. Ok, I'll give her that one- she should probably clean the glue up AND THEN laugh. KIDS ARE FUNNY. They say funny things, do funny things and sometimes even, they just look funny. If you can't laugh when you are working with kids, then you reallllllly need to take a deep, hard look at what. you. are. doing.  If you are working with my children, I expect this. I expect you to be down on the floor right along with them, and if you can give pony rides and airplane rides, I respect you even more.

4. Get on their level- I can't tell you the difference between a teacher/instructor/coach who gets down on a child's level and one that doesn't and the level of participation you will see. We have had experiences where, if the teacher/coach/instructor would have taken literally two seconds to kneel down and greet Sophia personally, she would have been much more willing to follow that teacher into a room without mom. This is where William and I disagree slightly, he thinks that Sophia should just go with it and deal if a teacher isn't as friendly or nurturing but I disagree. I think that if you are planning to work with kids, you need to know how to engage them. Sometimes, I think people just sort of flow into working with kids because hey, it's easy, right?! Just because you babysat in high school DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD BE A TEACHER OR A CHILD CARE PROVIDER. (or a coach or instructor etc.) You gotta know a little about kids and what makes them tick. And maybe knowing a little about child development might help too, ya never know?!

5. TALK TO THEM- sounds simple, right? WRONG. I can't tell you how many times Sophia has been in practice where the coach instructs the kids to do something and half of them stare back at her with blank faces. Sometimes, we assume kids know what we're talking about or how to do things. Sometimes, (gasp) we have to explain what we mean. We have to explain and teach and show them HOW to do something. I know, it's a doozy. You mean, I have to TEACH them HOW to play soccer or SHOW them what a straddle jump is? What?! By simply talking and explaining, at least to Sophia, it can mean the difference between a tantrum and frustration and making a goal. Even as a parent, if I can just take a minute to talk to Sophia about what's going to happen or explain to her what's going, I've found it works SO much better than just grabbing her hand and having her run behind me, trying to catch up.

So, there are my five qualifications for anyone who is thinking of working with kids. What else would you require of someone when they are working with kids?

On another note, Saidey turned 18 months last week and we had her well check today. She weighs 21.7 lbs. and is 32.5'' long. She sure is a firecracker and keeps us on our toes, that's for sure.

Now, who wouldn't love that face?! See what I mean- you could groan at the mess you have to clean or laugh because let's be honest- that's a whole lot better than crying.