Home Influence on Attitudes and Perceptions
Children’s attitudes and perceptions emerging from home influences develop early. Family members communicate to even very young children how they feel about themselves and their neighbors and about their schools and community.
Mrs. Kohl was astonished when her three-year-old, Brittany, spat at Mrs. Foster, an older woman living upstairs in their building. Mrs. Kohl didn’t remember that the day before, when Mrs. Foster knocked at the apartment door, she had told her husband not to answer, saying, “I’m tired of the old hag coming around, nosing in our business, and always borrowing something. I feel like spitting, she annoys me so.” When Brittany’s mother took her to her room as punishment, the child said defiantly, “I spit. She old hag.”
At this point, it may be just Mrs. Foster that Brittany has antipathy for, but continued negative attitudes expressed by her parents and others toward older persons will affect the child’s acceptance and attitude toward the presence of, interactions with, and the authority of older persons. If Mrs. Foster displays friendliness and kindness toward Brittany, however, she may modify the child’s perception of her and perhaps influence Brittany’s mother to feel differently, as well.
Parents’ attitudes and feelings toward school will influence their children’s feelings in a similar way. The annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup polls (Rose & Gallup, 2006) over the past quarter century show that on the whole, Americans value their local schools and have confidence in them. On the other hand, we find vast differences throughout the country in the faith that individuals have for schooling in general. Parents communicate this faith, or lack thereof, to their children and thus influence how their children react to their teachers, their learning experiences, and even attending school.
A few years later, Mrs. Kohl and her neighbor, Mrs. Reed, received letters stating that their daughters would be in Mrs. Owens’s kindergarten. Reactions in the two households differed, and each affected the children’s feelings about school. Mrs. Reed was delighted. Turning to her daughter, she said. “Oh, Sammie, you’re going to love school! Mrs. Owens was my teacher, and you’ll just love all the fun things you’ll do in class.”
Mrs. Kohl, on the other hand, felt quite different. She expressed her thoughts to her husband in her daughter’s presence, “Rats, Brittany has that old Mrs. Owens. I was hoping she’d get the new young teacher.” It was no wonder the two children reacted differently when they met at the bus stop on the first day of school. Samantha jumped up and down and grabbed Brittany’s hand as she ran toward the stopped bus, saying, “Oh, we’re going to have so much fun.” Brittany, however, pushed her away and refused to get on the bus. No amount of cajoling from the adults could convince her that she should get on. Mrs. Kohl was forced to drive Brittany to school for several days before the child would take the bus with her friend.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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