Let me preface this blog by stating it is not meant to be sexist. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, May 11th, this is a “shout out” to all mothers who take a vested interest in the personal, intellectual, and social development of their young ones. Fathers, you, too, are essential to your child’s development and deserve praise in your role as a caring and supportive parent; however, your effort will be revered next month. This article addresses the contribution of a shining star, known to us as “mother.”
Medical theories have presented the pregnant mother’s positive impact on the fetus’ cognitive development; continuing to flourish after birth. Experience has shown that maternal nurturing can positively affect the newborn and toddler milestones that build the foundation for success in school. Mothers are often the “first real friend” or “confidant” of the budding preschooler, and she can be instrumental in shaping personal, social, and intellectual traits during sensitive and critical times.
Reflect back to your first day of kindergarten and the challenges of transition. Most young children are easily comforted by the immediate intervention of a mother’s smile, hug, and encouragement as supportive welcomed relief.
Since my mother was my first grade teacher, that in itself was a transition, since she was a “stay-at-home-mom” until I started school. Initially, I found her role somewhat confusing, until she and the principal felt it was in my best interest to be promoted to second grade. You could say my luck was due to my mother being the only first grade teacher in the school.
For most mothers, it is difficult “letting go” when kindergarten begins; personal testimony included. When my oldest started kindergarten, thirty-five years ago, I still vividly remember my anxiety when he pulled his little hand away from me the first day. Not prepared to relinquish my “protection,” I would drive him to school, sit in the car, and watch him line up with the rest of his classmates as they entered the building, before I returned home. The irony of the confession is that as a school counselor, I had to encourage middle school parents to subdue their anxiety about high school and allow their freshmen to experience the independence of their new academic community.
Mothers have expanded their role by working not only at home, but in pursuing careers in various settings. With limited time for themselves, they still manage to assist with homework, carpool to games and events, work collaboratively with the school on PTA committees, and attend, even initiate, parent-teacher conferences.
Many mother-child relationships are bonded by reading together, whether for leisure or school. Vocabulary development begins in the early months of life. When it’s time to encourage social outreach, mothers can be helpful by forming play groups. Children benefit greatly from the early intervention of organization and time management skills, by MOM, so that as high school nears, this is not a critical deficiency. And who better to enforce organization skills, the Queen of Executive Functioning, MOM.
If not, challenges will be on the horizon. Mothers are usually responsible for monitoring the cleanliness of the bedroom and appropriateness of clothes selection, as well as offering wise advice and opinions, along with supportive arms for hugging and shoulders for crying.
Educating a child is a collaborative effort of the parents and school. A successful outcome produces viable options for “life after high school.” So on May 11th, give praise and thanks for all mothers who want the best education possible for her children. Fathers, don’t worry, you will get your recognition next month.