As a parent you don’t get a written handbook or manual on how to raise your children. Becoming a parent is a scary thing! There are so many "what ifs" and "how tos." And if you’re co-parenting, there are different parenting skills and techniques–sometimes you see eye to eye and sometimes you’re not only on different pages but in completely different books.
I’ve been working in the early childhood field for years and have been lucky to have access to amazing professional development resources like CLASS and myTeachstone. Initially I thought that CLASS was only for the classroom until I realized I was taking all I learned from the CLASS tool and applying to my daily life with my very active four-year-old son.
I saw myself changing the way I was interacting with my son. I became more aware of his needs. I was more responsive and addressed issues more quickly and effectively. I began adjusting his routines and setting clear behavioral expectations for him. As I started acting out many of the behavioral markers I had grown accustomed to using in my classroom at home, I started to notice a real impact on my parenting.
Previously, my son’s nightly routine consisted of dinner, bath, a story of his choosing, and an episode or two of his favorite program, Octonauts, before lights out. Typically, I would wait till his show was over and hit the switch and off to bed he would go. Every night, however, seemed to be a battle—he wanted more TV or he wasn’t ready for the TV to be off. These battles were exhausting leaving him emotionally drained and my stress levels through the roof. I knew there had to be a better way.
I had to find a way to make things work for both of us. I thought to myself, “What am I doing wrong here? What am I missing?” Little did I realize at the time I had all the answers in front of me in my CLASS Manual. Things I so very often coach my teachers on, I wasn’t doing myself:
I talked to my husband and explained some of the CLASS Dimensions and how changing our interactions would benefit our son (and our sanity!). As a family, we sat down and talked about the best nightime routine that would work for everyone and and clarified our expectations. It was important to include my son in the process. We asked him what he would like to do after bathtime to prepare for bed (eating ice cream in bed was not an option). He told us he liked Mommy and Daddy reading him a book so we made sure that was included. We talked about setting a timer for TV time. We now have a ten-minute and five-minute warning to help him understand what is coming next. We wrote down the new nighttime schedule on a poster board and added pictures for my son to visualize the routine.
Now when the timer goes off, my son knows there are three rings that go off before it’s time to go to bed. I've even caught him turning off the TV himself after the final alarm. Our new routine has worked like magic for our family. I’ve noticed such a positive difference in how our evenings go. Consistency is important, though. I have noticed if we don’t stick to the plan we created together, or I forget the countdown to the timer, our nights are a bit tougher. Just like any four-year-old, he expects the consistency and I can now appreciate that.
Learning all I have from the CLASS tool has made me a better parent. I often review my manual not just for work but at home with my husband to help him understand how to be a better parent and be a parent in the “high range”. Because of CLASS, we can gladly say we have adopted some great developmentally appropriate practices in our home.
Gabrielle Izzo has been in child care for nearly 16 years. She is currently a TA/Coach for Agenda for Children. She has her CDA in both Toddlers and Pre-K. She also is a certified CLASS observer for both toddler and pre-K age levels, and she is also an MTP coach. A Botson native, Gabrielle has committed her life to improving the early childhood industry in New Orleans, where she strives to help teachers become leaders and children prepare for Kindgergarten.
I recently heard a great analogy about the CLASS tool and I had to share it. I can’t take credit for the idea. Affiliate Trainer, Teresa Bockes, originated the concept, and I loved it the minute I heard it: CLASS is like a house. Let’s build a house step-by-step to learn more about this metaphor.
Do you ever find it difficult to explain to others what you do as a profession and what CLASS is?
When I was a classroom teacher and people asked me about my job, I could say, “I am a teacher,” and everyone knew exactly what I did. But, when I joined Teachstone and began delivering trainings on the CLASS tool, things seemed to change. I couldn’t answer that question with such a simple answer. Here is a recent conversation I had at an airport where I was asked about what I did for a living.
As I sat in on an Infant Train-the-Trainer session, participants reflected on their previous experiences with CLASS: learning about it, using it to observe classrooms, supporting teachers, and training others to observe. One participant spoke up:
“CLASS is a measure you have to get wrong to get right.”