What Children Need from Adults to Thrive in an Ever-Changing World
This past weekend, our team at Premiere ventured out to the 28th Annual CSHC Regional Early Childhood Conference. We were able to spend valuable time together listening to some well versed experts in the field! At the end of the conference, each of us left with a concept or an idea for the classroom that we intend to use and share with our students and each other. A few of the many ideas we covered were: flexibility to allow for authentic educational moments (allowing for spontaneous and fun moments in class that aren't necessarily built into the routine of the day)ideas for smooth transitions in the classroom (new songs, catch phrases, repetition, etc)simple science (having fun and getting messy with only a few ingredients) And last but certainly not least...
What our children need from adults, teachers and caregivers to thrive in an ever-changing world! We know...not as light and fluffy as you may have been expecting, but truly, the approach is pretty basic.
We can't argue its relevance. The pace at which we operate our day to day lives, the shift of different expertise and new talents in the workforce, new technologies and how we communicate with each other are changing faster than ever before. You may be thinking, this seems a bit far in the future for parents of preschoolers and how does this relate to my sweet, little child? Hang tight. There are so many skills they will need for the future and the shaping of their minds has already begun.
Of course we will provide you with the quick list of 10 things every child needs, but you'll have to wait for it! We know, you don't like to wait. ;) But in all seriousness, let's take a quick dip into the how's and why's children (yes, little minds) need us more than we think!
Quick Science: At birth, an infant's brain is only 25 percent of the size of an average adult's brain. Incredibly, by age 3, a child's brain has grown to 90 percent of that an adult's brain. During infancy and early childhood, children are flooded with new experiences that impact their brain development. The first 3 years of a child's life offer parents and other caregivers (ahhemmm...us!) an amazing opportunity to shape the child's growth and form healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Annnd breath. That was a mouthful.
Science aside: As parents, teachers and caregivers, we have the most important job in the world. To a child, we are their role models and their chief engagement officers. We can offer them unconditional love and unwavering support. We have the opportunity to impact our little ones in small, but lasting ways. We can say their name, let them know that they are seen and worthy. Did you know that something as simple as saying a child's name while speaking to them increases the feel good chemicals in their brains? Where's the "that was easy" button when you need it?!
Almost done...bare with us: We have the ability to teach children how to channel their feelings and show them that they matter. For instance, when a child lashes out and says something that you feel isn't true, do you tell them they are wrong? Sometimes we do. We say "that's not true" or "that's not how you should feel." In that moment, we discredit their feelings and they begin to think that they can't trust their own feelings. As a role model, it is important to encourage emotional expressions. Let them be angry. Being angry isn't bad, it's what they do with their anger that can be problematic. For a child (and even us adults) feelings must be dealt with before behavior can change. Think about what happens when we suppress our feelings. Not a whole lot of good comes out of it. We understand how challenging it can be dealing with the emotions of a preschooler. It's plain tough at times. BUT...yes, but...maybe if we all changed our mindset on meltdowns and gave them the freedom to express how they feel and respond with understanding and empathy, we just might have a breakthrough and find ourselves connecting with our children (annnnd breathe again). If we allow them to talk through their feelings, we will undoubtedly have an easier time managing the meltdown and channeling their emotions into a more healthy response. Children seek the same respect they give to us. They seek our attention and they seek our affirmation. Our brain is a social organ and it needs the interaction to learn, love and thrive.
There are so many scenarios and statistics we could share, but it all boils down to the take home message:
Children are just learning how to behave in this world. How you interact with them will have a lifelong impact on how they develop!
And now, what you've been waiting for. Can I get a drumroll please?........ Here are 10 things that can boost your child's brain power: 1. Interaction: Spend time watching me and respond to my cues. It tells me I'm important and special to you. 2. Loving Touch: Cradle me, hold me, give me lots of hugs. It keeps me calm and comforts me. 3. Stable Relationship: I need someone special to be there when I call. When I look around and see you, I know I can go far. 4. Safe, Healthy Environment: Plug the outlets, block the stairs. Make safe, special places so I am free to explore! 5. Self-Esteem: I can do it, yes I can, if you tell me so, pay attention, give me praise and watch me go, go, go! 6. Quality Child Care: When you're gone, I need to be with people you can trust to help me grow and teach me new, exciting stuff! 7. Communication: I may not talk, but don't be fooled, I understand a lot. Our conversations mean so much! 8. Play: Play is fun, play is work, it's how I learn the ropes. 9. Music: 1, 2, 3 -- Sing to me and make up silly tunes. Music is special time that's fun to share with you. 10. Reading: Read to me, show me books with lots of pretty pictures. Write my stories out in words I'll love to read forever.
Simply put...spend the time, listen, encourage, offer compassion, empathize, dig in the dirt, jump in the puddle and explore. Your children will not only learn through play, they will grow a deeper bond with you as a parent or caregiver. Time for our children equals love.
Let us say it again...because it is so important: For a child....Time = Love
We hope that this bit of information finds you well and is thought provoking in terms of what our children need in order to thrive. A little chicken soup for the caregivers soul if you will. As always, please comment, offer thoughts, suggestions and share! We are a tribe.