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First Teachers Can Be Most Important Teachers

Too Small to Fail
By Too Small to Fail

First Teachers

Even if parents don’t see themselves as teachers, they are their children’s first—and often, most!—important teachers. From even before birth, babies learn to recognize the sound of their mother’s voices and learn about their environment. And after birth, babies look to parents to help them make sense of the world around them, from new foods to new experiences. Every book that is read, song that is sung, or story that is told is an opportunity for parents to teach their young children about their environment, boost their vocabulary and build closer bonds.

But parents aren’t the only teachers in a young child’s life. Increasingly, grandparents play the role of primary caregivers to young children and foster their physical, emotional and cognitive development. According to AARP, almost 3 million grandparents in the United States serve as primary caregivers for their grandchildren. These grandparents provide an important way for young children to learn important skills from older adults, as well as family history.

Older siblings also play a very important role in young children’s lives by offering guidance on simple activities or social customs. New research shows that the learning that takes place between younger and older siblings is spontaneous and two-sided—meaning that older siblings often offer instruction to younger siblings without being asked, but younger siblings often ask their older siblings how to do things, too.

While young children can learn from every person they encounter, it is the ones who engage with them on a daily basis—be they parents, grandparents, siblings or preschool teachers—that best inspire a child’s life-long curiosity and love for learning.

Resources for Sharing:

  • Tips and information from AARP for grandparents who serve as their grandchildren’s primary caregivers, from important medical records to legal issues.
  • Ideas for fun activities that support early learning, from our friends at ZERO TO THREE.
  • 20 tips for parents from preschool teachers about how to get the most from your toddler.
  • This blog post from Too Small to Fail reveals how one family’s youngest teacher helps his sister learn.

Who are some of the best teachers in your own life, and why? Share your stories and photos with Too Small to Fail on Twitter using #MyFirstTeacher.

VIDEO: From Mayor Cory Booker, the difference one teacher can make. >>

Posted In: Newsletter