I remember one evening years ago when my kids were much younger. We had some company over and it was typical for the kids to be playing downstairs while we adults were upstairs having adult conversations. I don't remember exactly what we were talking about, but I do remember hearing something very quiet in the hallway, and discovering that one of my sons had tiptoed upstairs and was listening in on what we were talking about. I'm sure it wasn't horrifyingly awkward, but I do remember thinking that I hope we weren't saying anything that we didn't want him to hear. Little ears are listening.
My daughter has taken to watching very closely what I eat. I've transitioned to much healthier eating habits and typically eat things that some of my other family members are not adventurous enough to try, except for my daughter. It's not unusual for her to ask me if something is OK for her to eat based on certain nutritional guidelines. Little eyes are watching.
There are times in class when we are choosing scarves to use. Of course, so many of the girls go for pink or purple right away. And several of the boys are partial to blue or green. But I find it interesting that when I take a yellow scarf, several of the class suddenly have a new favorite color. Little hearts want to stay connected.
No matter what we do as parents or teachers, little eyes and ears are watching. For better or worse. Of course we already know this. We just forget how big of an impact it really is. Not only do they hear and see what is going on, they process the emotion of situations, too. When there are tensions and stressors in mom's life, the children pick up on it and often manifest attention getting behaviours. But conversely, when mom is calm in the midst of a stressful situation, her demanor can calm the uneasiness of her children, transferring her peace and confidence to them.
Parents have such an immense responsibility. Not only do we provide for all the physical and emotional needs of our children, but we are also their primary teachers - "on duty" every minute of every day. And it goes WAY beyond the formal explanations we offer. The "students" pick up on all kinds of unintentional subtleties. For example, if you approach an upcoming event with lots of enthusiasm, chances are your children will pick up the same anticipation. Or more specifically, if you come to Kindermusik classes with a smile on your face, ready to sing and dance and have lots of fun with our little community of like-minded families, your children will sense the good times to be had and join in far more readily.
I know this to be true. All 3 of my children are very musical. Talents have been encouraged over the years, but it all started with us singing and dancing in our living room, learning how fun it is to be musical together. Then by watching their mom be consistently involved in making music with others over the years, both professionally and in other circumstances, they "caught" the music bug and now it's theirs for keeps.
Now my eyes get to watch them ;)