Robert J. Doman, Jr.
“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments: tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.” – Louis Pasteur
One of the great mysteries of life has to do with the big question of our children and their potential. What is it, and how do we help them achieve it? No job any of us will ever have is more important than the job of raising a child. Unfortunately, no job comes with less training on how to do it! As a result, most children never come close to achieving their innate potential because parents are not taught how to unlock it.
This article is the first in a series providing expert knowledge on child development to parents and to young people who will be the parents of the future. Our goal is to raise the bar for our children by educating parents, which is what the National Association for Child Development (NACD) has been doing for almost forty years. We help children from all over the world including typical and highly capable children as well as those with brain injury, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, Dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADD, and other challenges. After implementing our programs, each of our clients has been able to do more than they could before, often achieving beyond everyone’s expectations. Yet their success has come not through our directly working with the children, but through our education and guidance of their parents.
Parents are children’s first and most important teachers. If anyone questions the role of parents as educators, they need only to look at the fact that most children will learn more by the time they are five years old than they will during the entire rest of their lives.
Although parental involvement in the first few years of a child’s life is crucial to development, the individual attention parents can provide continues to be tremendously important throughout a child’s education. Good schools and great teachers are important, but good parents and great parenting are imperative.
Who is the world’s greatest expert on an individual child? It’s neither the teacher nor the school psychologist nor the pediatrician – it’s the parent! In most cases, however, the parent who is the greatest expert on their individual child is not an expert on children in general, and they need specific knowledge and experience in order to help their children develop their potential to the fullest.
One glaring topic consistently absent from the national debate about the American educational system is that of teaching high school students in depth about child development. With growing concern about the soaring drop out rate and the reduction of highly skilled individuals in our labor force, the debate currently centers on how to raise math and reading scores, and how much time and funding can be redirected away from the arts, sports and other programs. Ironically, if we spent more time teaching our future parents about child development, we would be empowering them to dramatically increase the abilities of our future generations even if we did nothing to change the schools.
NACD’s track record of success with over 30,000 families during the last forty years has proven that providing loving and dedicated parents with the expertise they need to assist their children results in amazing growth and achievement in children of all ages and capabilities. Stay tuned for upcoming topics and tips we will share with you in this column to help your children become all they can be.
Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation (formerly The National Academy for Child Development), Volume 19 No. 6, 2006 ©NACD
Article updated July 2016