Parents as Teachers
As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher from infancy through the preschool years. The fact is that just about all your interactions—playing, talking, putting on clothes, feeding—are natural teaching experiences for you and learning opportunities for your child. In your role as teacher, keep in mind that:
- Every child, whether visually impaired or not, is a learner.
- The family is the most significant influence in the life of a young child.
- Children have different learning styles and, therefore, effective teaching approaches should be geared to individual needs.
What makes you a natural teacher?
- You know your child better than anyone else does and have a better idea of what he is ready to learn.
- You spend more time with your child than anyone else does. Therefore you're able to take advantage of the many ordinary events—things that happen throughout the day in the normal course of family life—that are teaching opportunities.
- You give your child toys and common, everyday objects to help her learn in natural situations that can be applied to other situations outside the home.
- You provide opportunities for your child to practice what he has learned and a chance to experience the world under your guidance.
- You act as a role model. By starting early, you teach your child good habits that will last a lifetime.
- You involve your child in family life so friends and relatives learn how to interact with your visually impaired child and she learns how to act with others.
Visually impaired children learn by touching, listening, smelling, tasting, moving, and using whatever vision they have. You teach your child by talking, touching, and playing during natural interaction times. You also teach by providing toys and ordinary household objects that vary in texture, weight, smell, sound, and color. The more sensory experiences you provide, both one at a time and simultaneously, during everyday routines and special family occasions, the better. Your creative, on-the-spot teaching is an essential part of your child's education.
This area of AFB's web site gives you information about the value of early diagnosis of your child's visual disability and how to get needed services quickly. It also gives you specific guidelines for expanding your natural teaching skills to help your toddler or preschooler be ready for more formal learning experiences in school.