Careful the things you say….children will listen

3E244EE5-2C4D-4A1C-92A9-6158CFD30F24“Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see, and learn.
Children may not obey, but children will listen.
Children will look to you for which way to turn,
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say “Listen to me”
Children will listen.”

These words from the finale chorus of the popular 2014 musical “Into the Woods” resonate with me for many reasons.

Firstly, it constantly astounds me what children notice. They take in everything. The clothes you wear, how much you smile, when you bought new shoes, if you dyed your hair. And most of all, what you say.

They listen to who you speak to and how you speak to them. They pay attention to your non-verbal gestures, whether you are being sincere or fake, how much you laugh and whether or not you yell. 

They watch how you cope when you’re stressed, how you react when a student challenges you, how calm you stay under pressure.

And all the while they’re calculating whether they’d like to be more or less like you. 

“Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.”

This section of the song reminds me that as a teacher, my clientele include not just the children in my class, but also their parents, and the community at large. The mindsets I foster in my pupils shape their families, and affect their future. 

When I’m out and about, my actions reflect on all candles. My contributions to social media can be deemed as representing the entire teaching profession. 

“What do you leave to your child when you’re dead?
Only whatever you put in it’s head”

This verse reinforces for me why most teachers get up in the morning- because their legacy lives on in the wisdom, the spirit and the compassion of the children that they taught to be wise, spirited and compassionate. Their candle light spreading like wildfire.

“Oh guide them then step away,
Children will glisten”

This stanza reassures me that even when I have to say goodbye to classes of kids- I can have faith that I have equipped them to carry forth all of the information, skills and attitudes that they attained under my tutelage.

“How do you say to your child in the night
Nothing’s all black, but then nothing’s all white.
How do you say it will all be all right,
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?”

And finally, the section of the lyrics which best sum up what I see as my most important mission. To instil in children a positive attitude, an ability to see the silver lining, an optimism and a resilience. 

A way to balance being hopeful for the future but also being realistic. To be able to- when life gives them lemons- make three lemonade cocktails and a deliciously moist lemon cake.


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