Connected Classrooms

I have been thinking about classrooms and early learning centers. So many kiddos spend a lot of time in this setting. At the same time, teachers and policy makers are talking about kindergarten readiness. So here is the question: what can we do to improve learning for our little ones? What I think of, in response to ‘kindergarten readiness’, is NOT knowing the alphabet or memorizing the names of colors. Being really ready for kindergarten means that a child has some sense of how to self-regulate,  is able to communicate needs, and to be independent in some tasks.

These things all become possible when we are connected with our students.

As Patty Wipfler writes in the Hand in Hand Parenting course Building Emotional Understanding, “Children’s brains don’t come fully developed. They are wired to develop their intelligence IN RELATIONSHIP with their parents and caring adults.” How can we create connection in the classroom, to support children’s intelligence?

 

As a parent, I use the tool special time, a dedicated, proscribed time period, decided in advance, where I provide extra warmth and eye contact, and try to promote laughter, without tickling. This tool really is so effective to build a strong feeling of safety and connection with my child. In the classroom, we don’t always have time to give that one on one focus. Instead, a few moments of focus, when we can delight in a child and let the child take the lead can serve to create more warmth and connection.

Every day, I see teachers:

  • Responding to our students in a way that shows the care that we feel
  • Listening to upsets
  • Setting limits with warmth
  • Avoiding harshness

These connected behaviors make such a difference. The list above is just to get us started- I would love to hear what works in the classrooms in your community.  Please use the comments section to share your ideas.

A quote from one of my favorite books and something I try to remember:

“A culture versed in the workings of emotional life would encourage and promote the activities that sustain health—togetherness with one’s partner and children; homes, families, and communities of connectedness. Such a society would guide its inhabitants to the joy that can be found at the heart of attachment…The contrast between that culture and our own could not be more evident.” A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., Richard Lannon, M.D., page 209

Listening Partnership Workshop

What is a Listening Partnership?

This excerpt from the book : Listen, by Patty Wipfler, says it perfectly: “Listening Partnerships are simple to do. You choose someone you’d like to exchange listening time with. You choose your topic and the time you’d like and then, quite simply, you talk. Pick someone you trust, or someone you think will be a good listener.You’ll find that being listened to will refuel your energy for parenting. Refreshed, it will be easier to connect with your child. Solutions to the problems that weigh on your mind will come along.”

Please join me to learn how to get started! Workshop cost is $10.

RSVP Here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/420419044795382/

Early Communication With Babies in Infant Massage

Attachment theory holds that every child forms an attachment with a caregiver, and through this relationship, the child forms her ideas about her self, the world and her place in it. The goal of infant massage and touch communication is to support strong attachment with reciprocal communication.

I had the opportunity to work with the Foundation for Healthy Family Living (FHFL) in Sonoma, California to become a certified instructor of Infant Massage. Elaine Fogel Schneider, PhD, a colleague at FHFL, writes

“By using infant massage, a parent grasps the art of listening, asking permission, communicating, interpreting and responding to cues. The infant displays engagement/disengagement cues, furthers body awareness, self-esteem, listening and communication. Both infant and parent benefit from eye contact, relaxation, bonding, synchrony, love and trust.”

Infant massage classes are a supportive place where parents learn and meet other parents.

A new series starts in June, please sign up here: 

Read more about Touch Communication in this excellent article, here.

Listening To Babies

A tiny story about the healing power of listening.

When I met sweet B., she had a lot of fears about being picked up. During her short life, she had already endured being jabbed with needles and confined while procedures or medication were administered. Her cries of protest were so loud and she struggled so much that I almost felt that I could not keep holding her. She is an incredibly strong little person, both emotionally and physically, all 15 pounds of her!

I was able to make eye contact with B. and release the tension that I could feel in my shoulders, the result of her cries. I took a breath. I was ready to listen to her strong feelings. I did not shhh her or say ‘you are ok’ or hug her tightly. It was tempting to do all of those things; this little one is so precious and vulnerable. Instead, I held her gaze and listened. My face stayed calm. I nodded a few times as the minutes passed. I said ‘I am sorry that it was so hard for you.

This was the start of many listening times with baby B.. Each tine, she would begin to release some of the fears and discomfort she had with me picking her up. She would always begin to relax after our eyes were able to make a good contact. I also noticed that she went to sleep very easily with my help after these sessions. I truly believe that listening to babies is one of the most important things we can do as parents and teachers.

Contact me for support in being a calm listening for your little one.

Five Emotionally Intelligent Parenting Tips

Hand in Hand Parenting‘s amazingly incredible founder Patty Wipfler and her wonderful co-author Tosha Schore were recently part of a piece in Real Simple magazine. These are wise, incredible people, I am trying to tell you!. And these five tips, especially I’ll be with you while you wait for problems with sharing will make a difference for parents everywhere. Although each idea is brief, all five will help you turn a situation around and put connection first. Go check it out.