By: Evelyse Eerola
They are called the millennium children, children of the new era, new generation, even crystal children for the spiritualists. Parents, doctors, teachers – everybody talks about how smart this new generation is, how they learn faster, they are restless and critical and, most of the time, have their own opinions. However, we find very few discussions on how to deal with them. How parents and teachers can do their best to take advantage of this immense potential they have? For this new generation we have to reinvent new formulas to teach them, to maintain their interest active and prepare them to a balanced and happy adulthood.
When we analyze the dynamics of the new generations, usually they tend to be more developed especially regarding the new technologies. We can testify how a small child can deal with a smart phone or computer better and faster that us. Actually, they born digital natives! Similarly, we can remember how difficult was to teach our grandmother to use a cell phone, or even to speak to the old answer machine.
Is the new technology responsible for these super smart children? Maybe some past accumulated memory is causing some changes in their brains, even before they are born? In fact, this super development isn´t only intellectual but it is physical as well. Maybe you remember your mother or grandmother comment about that the newborns took usually three days to open their eyes and one week to move their heads? Well, the doctors testify that the babies of this generation development their motor coordination much faster and start to be alert much quickly compared to their older brothers.
Some research was in this field, however, anything conclusive yet, but we can observe these changes in the newborns. The Cornell Medical Center in NY published a research about three groups of babies in relation to their motor ability, quality of movement and neurological reflexes. The babies were tested in different ages of 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of age post-term. So, resuming the results of the research, most of the healthy children presented high scores in neuromotor category, which persisted for during the first year of life. Unfortunately, most of the research in this area focus on the problems and diseases of neuromotor development. We pratically don´t find anything about the the speed in motor development of today’s children.
How to be a good parent
In the old days, your mother said to you before you leave for a weekend with your friends: don´t forget your coat!- today the mothers said: don´t forget the wire from your cell phone!
All this social evolution and fast technology development have produced a new generations of parents as well. If you take a look on the Internet about today´s parents, you will see the designation of different parenting styles and, most of them with lots of criticism. It seems that this actual parent generations are lost in taking care of raising this generations of adults. Of course isn´t easy to know what is the best methodology to rise a children today. Here are some tips.
First of all, this new generation needs limits. Yes, I know that the many today´s educators have demonized this word and it is considered part of the old traditional parenthood. However, these kids are very smart and they can easily manipulate you. They have an enormous potential and intelligence, but they don´t know how to use it yet. So that´s why they need a strong but fair discipline.
You can discipline your child without be a tyrant, that´s completely possible. Parents need to be more teachers and less emotional in this process.
This matter came to me usually when I was a teacher. Part of my job was to help the parents, especially the young ones, how to put limits to their kids. The discipline doesn´t mean that you stop dialogue with your child, on the contrary, open the door for that. You can establish routine and the rules of your home with them, even with the very young child . This generation is prepared to understand, they may question a lot, because they need answers but at the end, they will understand and agree with the family decision. But they need to be part of the process, especially because they question a lot.
Another issue is the crying. Most of the parents and, especially grandparents give up because of the crying. Crying is a way of communication for the small kids. This is normal and we need understand that when they are frustrated, they will cry. The best advise is to let you child cry, don´t make exceptions or go back in your decision because of the crying. Think that the child needs to have the right to cry. After you have a constructive dialogue with him/her, give a big hug and emphasize your love. Trying to avoid the frustration of your child is the worst thing which you can do for his/her future. Believe me, you are contributing for a weak and depressive teenage and adult. So, dialogue is fundamental for a good parenthood. Together, the dialogue and discipline are powerful tools.
This is very important and most of this generation parents forget it. We need to give a break within this competitive world. Do not try to construct their future based in your experiences: good courses, the best university, be competitive, be pro-active and the worst – be the best.
Put your child more in contact with arts, animals and nature. Let them choose what they love most, if not math, no problem. Be the best at the school doens´t mean that they will succeed in their future lives.
Please, forget the competitions, stimulate them to dance, or paint, sing or, even to play some sport for fun, and not to be the best. This generation already broke the high levels of depression in young adults because of this sensation that the world is too demanded for them. In the future we will need more sensible, creative and empathetic people that know how work as a time and create solution for the common good.
Regulate their time in front of the computer or with games, especially violent ones. This advanced technology for kids is important for their development as well, but it can´t replace you. Give a little bit more of quality time with you and your family – Any game can’t replace it!
As a teacher, I had the opportunity to work with these kids. Kids of the new generation are super smart, and if you know how to do a good work, you can have great results. However, one thing is for sure: you can navigate in new lands with old maps.
You are in front of a class of children which are curious, demanding for information and, ready to learn new things…Then, what you do? You open your old book and ask for everybody to read the next chapter in silence. You reproduce the same method which your old teacher applied on you and, at the end of the day you tell your colleagues that these children are not interested to learn!
So, some teachers can kill the desire to learn. These new generation kids run at 100km/h and the school, 20 km/h. Teachers need to review their practices and so needs the school, too.
Again, I will repeat as a mother and as a teacher – the discipline and dialogue are the keys. First of all, the teacher needs to open the dialogue and construct the rules with the students. I call it the map of the group control. After that, you will have a good base to start the activities.
We need to keep students engaged in the classroom or in a kindergarten and, this is also fundamental to academic success. The school need to use a comprehensive approach using discipline to teach rather than to punish. We try to create consciousness about discipline and, we do this with the students. The dialogue is again very important. The research in risk area schools of the USA shows that the schools that take this approach, promote positive student behavior while prevents negative and risky behaviors. They integrated the positive discipline into the policies, programs, and practices of a schools and its application is systemwide—in the classroom, school, and community—to create a safe, supportive learning environment for all students.
According to American Institute for Research (2018), educators, parents, and leaders want the children to develop the necessary social, emotional and, academic competencies to be productive and engaged citizens in the future.
The teacher are forgetting the emotional part, especially in schools of risk areas. However, this is the best, and maybe the only solution for an effective teaching – discipline, dialogue and a good lesson plan.
As these children are very smart and active, the teacher needs to develop an approach which listen students’ interests and based on that, develop the lesson plan. In my experience, I always have a flexible and open lesson plan. I liked to give at least three suggestions on how could we develop some subject or, what they want to do first. According to this approach, they are part of the learning process once they decided what to do, but at the same time , they are committed to it.
For the student who disturbed, options were also given, once he/she had broken the commitment. However, this type of behavior decreases a lot when the group fell motivated.
In conclusion, both parents and teachers need to have a different approach with this new generation kids. Parents should be more present, open for dialogue and understand that spoiled child is a good candidate for a depressive adult.
For teachers and schools, it is suggested to review their pedagogical processes and methodologies. What they are doing to update their curriculum and lesson plans? We need to see the children as individuals and work their sensitivity and emotional part as well.
For the private schools, they are much more than just clients. See your student, listen,feel the needs of the emotions – take advantage of all this great potential they have and give them real education.
We, as a teachers, need to unleash the old educational system and make our practice more creative and engaging. Don´t be just another brick in the wall. They don´t want to be just another brick in the wall – teachers, let´s break the wall!!
Some references which were of great help:
*Gorga D, Stern FM, Ross G, Nagler W. 1988. Neuromotor development of preterm and full-term infants. Early Hum Dev. 18 (2-3):137-49.