Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Emergent Parenting

As you may have read already in my profile, I am an Early Childhood Educator and a mother of a wonderful 19 month old girl named Finley. She is very bright and involves herself in many different things, so it can be a challenge coming up with activities that will hold her attention and build on her skills.  As an emergent parent, I facilitate her learning by really paying attention to the things that she likes. In the Early Childhood Education field, we talk a lot about Emergent Curriculum. This follows a similar principle that children learn best when they are interested in what you are teaching.  Many child care centres have adopted this teaching philosophy because it is an approach to teaching that recognizes that children are leaders for their own learning. This is a conscious way of teaching, meaning that you observe the children – discover their interests and then incorporate that into your curriculum plan. This same principle can be used as a parent. You don’t have to be an Early Childhood Educator to implement these principles into your regular schedule.

The first step to being an emergent parent is observing your children. I know that it may seem daunting to add yet another thing to your routine, but this will have huge benefits to both you and your children. Take some time once a week to sit back and watch your children (enjoy a cup of coffee at the same time). What toys are they interested in? What are they saying? What books do they show an interest in? Write down the date and what you see and hear in a journal. This journal will also be a keepsake that you can show your children when they are older. When you get some time to yourself (after they have gone to sleep), go over what you have written. If you notice, for example, that your child is showing an interest in balls – come up with activities that include balls, but that are also educational. It is important to plan activities that enhance all of the developmental domains (Cognitive, Social, Emotional, Creative and Physical).
Example 1: Talk to your child about different sizes, using balls to indicate small, medium and large (Cognitive). Example 2: Bring a ball outside and play a game with some neighbourhood children (Social+ Physical). Example 3:  Make a chart and see which ball bounces the highest (Cognitive). Example 4: Use balls in an art activity, by rolling them through paint (Creative). Example 5: Buy some inexpensive balls that have no images on them and use a permanent marker to draw faces on them – happy, sad, angry etc. Talk about the different emotions that each ball represents and then use the balls in a game. Have your child show emotion through bouncing the angry ball, Twirling the happy ball and rolling the sad ball. You can also have your child come up with different movements for the balls. (Emotional)

If you are really into it (and you have the time), take pictures of your child while they do these activities and then add them into your journal. You can also decorate them by including some of the art work that they do.

There are so many different ways to encourage your child’s learning by using things that they are interested in. By focussing on what they want to do, you can help your children grow in each of the developmental domains (Cognitive, Social, Emotional, Creative, and Physical).  If you're interested in learning more about emergent curriculum, check out this link:

If you are having some difficulty coming up with activities that match your child’s interests, feel free to comment on this blog or send me an email and I'd be happy to give you some ideas.

- PM


  1. I love it! You are added to my google reader... can't wait to read more about your (and Finley's!) journey as a teaching-mom (and student of Finley's I imagine).

    Big hugs.

    1. HI Amanda,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! I look forward to sharing many more thoughts, ideas and useful resources.

      Big hugs to you.

  2. Hi Meg, I think it's so great that you're making it possible for all of us who love kids and want to understand them better (parents and non-parents) to tap into your experience and training. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dj - Thanks for reading my blog. I hope that the topics I cover will be interesting to both parents and non-parents alike. Let me know if you have any questions or topics that you would like me to cover.