SETTING PRIORITIES FOR A HOUSEHOLD OR CLASSROOM
No one feels the weight of responsibility like parents and teachers. Whether you’re in charge of one child or two dozen, everyone must understand what’s expected and what’s important—or you are going to have a rough time keeping any semblance of order.
There are at least three types of priorities every home or classroom should set:
Some ethical priorities everyone should internalize from early childhood are:
Remember, though: Unless you know and live by these values, the children won’t act with integrity or responsibility either. If you regularly tell “little white lies” to dodge trouble, no amount of scolding will convince the kids to be truthful with you. Why should they accept a standard you evidently don’t believe in yourself?
Society’s generally accepted rules for children’s safety are now stricter than even a generation ago. And you really don’t want your kids riding without seat belts just because previous generations lived to tell about it. However, you may be unsure of whether to forbid roughhousing, climbing trees, or other things that previous generations took for granted but that horrify many modern parents. If you’re a teacher and your school has official safety rules, you’re off the hook for most such decisions. Otherwise, rely on what you personally know about your children and your neighborhood, not what some expert across the country wrote.
There are, however, a few universal nonnegotiables:
Often overlooked amid daily concerns for keeping order and completing to-do lists, progress priorities are vital: they comprise long-term goals for the household/classroom as a whole and each child as an individual. This means encouraging children to develop their unique skills and passions; seeing every child, even in a large group, as an individual; and avoiding the common error of regarding life as one long day-to-day.
The progress priorities you set will be unique to your environment and your children, but a few guidelines are: