Resource Booklets for First Nations and Metis Parents in BC: Parents as First Teachers


Parents as First Teachers is a resource booklet about how children learn, for First Nations and Métis parents in BC, that looks at:

  • How children learn
    • How they are cared for
    • Experience
    • Senses
    • Play
    • Emotions
    • Routines
    • Health
    • Sensitive periods
    • A sense of belonging
  • Teach and guide your child
    • There are no bad children, just wanted and unwanted behaviours
    • Understand the reasons for unwanted behaviour
    • Praise your children
    • Use “time ins”
    • Redirect
    • Distract
    • Encourage problem-solving and offer choices
    • A natural consequence
    • Tips to help your child calm down
  • How you can support learning
    • Bonding
    • School readiness
    • Physical development
    • Speech and language development
    • Connectedness

The booklet stresses the value of exposing children to their First Nations or Métis language and culture during their first few years, as a foundation of who they are.  The booklet shares information, culture and knowledge about early learning.  It is designed to help parents to strengthen their role as the first and most important teacher for their child.

The booklet places value on the role of the Circle of Support:  “Connecting to community and family helps your child to learn and to develop a sense of belonging.  Children learn to take pride in their clan and heritage.  It is a symbol or story of who they are, where they come from, and who their family is.  Parents need the support of each other and all of the generations in their community.”  Elders in BC say: 

  • Every child is special.
  • Every child needs to be treated with respect.
  • As a parent, you are part of a larger circle of support.

The booklet points out, “There are many places to go to for help in your community.  Family, friends and other parents can help.  Doctors, public health nurses, Friendship Centres and health centres also play a role.  There are infant development and parenting programs.  You are not alone.”  The booklet provides links to resources, and directs parents to Healthlink BC at 8-1-1.

The booklet offers practical “What You Can Do” suggestions for different stages of the child’s early life:

  • During pregnancy
    • Your health during pregnancy is important to early learning
  • 0 to 6 months
    • Babies are born ready to learn and have many skills
    • As a newborn, your baby’s needs are simple
    • Babies need to know someone will always be there for them
    • Some ways you can help your baby learn
  • 7 to 12 months
    • Every baby is unique
    • The brain develops connections for seeing and hearing early in life
    • Some ways you can help your baby learn
  • 1 to 3 years
    • Toddlers learn to do things on their own
    • Self-regulations
    • Resilience
    • Language
    • Problem-solving
    • Some ways you can help your toddler learn
  • 4 to 6 years
    • All children are different, even in the same family
    • There are many changes for children as they enter school
    • Some ways you can help your child learn
  • Children with special needs
    • What if your child has special needs or is very sick?Stay positive
    • Advice from the Elders: First, you treat children with special needs “the same way as any other child – with love, patience, understanding, nurturing, respect, teaching, role modeling, healthy living and care.”

The booklet concludes with two sections on resources:

  • How you can get support
    • “Helpful and unhelpful” situations
    • Think about your past
    • Moving forward
    • Ask yourself
    • Shawn A-in-Chut Atlea, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations, says, “It is never too late to heal wounds and rebuild relationships, especially among families and communities.  We must no longer allow daily struggles and the dark history of residential schools to affect our kids.  Change starts with every one of us.”
  • How you can learn more
    • Links to parenting support organizations and programs

Other booklets available in this series include:  Family Connections; Growing Up Healthy; and Fatherhood is Forever.