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Forget the Flashcards... It is all about the Relationship!

It is all about the relationship. The most important factor for positive developmental outcomes for young children is the relationship with the significant caregivers in their lives. “Young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development.” (Center on Developing Child Harvard University).

It is the daily give and take ( serve and return), that gives us the rich information we need to build these solid relationships with our children. Through these very personal interactions, we learn about our child’s temperament, her interests, and her challenges. By accepting the differences and following our child’s lead we are respecting that they are an individual. Our challenge is to consciously make time for these very crucial interactions within our busy day.

Perhaps it is easiest to foster the early relationships with our babies, as that back and forth is basic and natural. The baby cries and looks to us for food and we provide it. He reaches his hand out to touch our face and we touch his. When our babies grow to toddlerhood it may be less smooth and therefore more difficult to accomplish. But if we use what we know from when they were babies, we can get back some of that synchronicity and continue on that road to trust, which is the centerpiece to every positive relationship.

How does your child experience the world? How do you respond to the same experiences? If there is a great deal of difference you may need to make a few adjustments. Temperament is not something you choose but rather something you are born with. Respecting your child’s inborn characteristics allows you to introduce new concepts or experiences in a way that your child can accept. If he is cautious with all new experiences, then offering time to observe may help. When you show your acceptance of his need, you build upon your relationship, which in turn gives him the ability to grow. Next time he may need less time and be less cautious, as he is more comfortable knowing that you understand who he is and what he needs.

Create time each day to play with your child. Games that incorporate serve and return( action and reaction) are great ones to try:

  • Peek- a Boo

  • Rolling balls ( or trucks) back and forth

  • Row/ row boat

  • Ready, set go! Games

  • Look for activities that your child initiates, like imaginative games and then follow their lead.

Finally, all relationships have a reciprocal quality, which builds over time, and when positive allows our children to feel safe, secure and ready to learn. Making time for these kinds of activities is more important than learning colors, numbers or shapes. Self -confidence and success are products of positive relationships with caring adults. It is up to us as parents to make sure these relationships happen.

Simple Engaging Moments that Build the Brain

Simple, Engaging Moments that Build the Brain

Summertime brings with it longer days filled with sunshine and growth and a sense of renewal on many levels. It is a time to take long walks, put our hands in the soil, and breathe in the fragrance of the flowers. This time of year can be a simple time; letting our senses take over while our minds wander.

Our children follow our lead, and learn from what we say and do. Very young children soak up what they experience, building brain connections as they go. It is up to us to be deliberate in our sharing of these experiences. If we narrate what we do and how we feel while in nature, our children will take that time to experience it with us.

“Experience is an essential component of brain development. A child’s specific experiences determine which connections are strengthened and expanded and which connections are eliminated.” ( Better Brains for Babies)

Taking a step outside of our regular routine, allows us to be spontaneous and creative which gives our children the chance to see things from a different perspective. Encouraging outside exploration when our children are young fosters a love for nature early; which will benefit them as they grow. Daily walks that include time to sit under a tree, roll down a hill, climb on rocks or just collect rocks are great ways to slow down and enjoy moments while building memories. “Our role is to facilitate children’s thinking and leaning as they discover meaningful experiences.” ( NAEYC, Beyond the Journal 2008).

It is the simple things that matter most. Your voice, narrating what is happening, your touch, soft and comforting, and your attention, interested and engaged are the components needed to encourage learning and enhance brain growth. No toy or DVD can compare to the time spent with your child. “ Not only do children learn lots of basic and fundamental information about how the world works in a very effective manner, they are more likely to remember what they learned because it was concrete and personally meaningful.”( Ormrod, 1977)

The first three years are critical for brain growth and development. By the time our children are three, 80% of the brain is formed and the experiences that help form their brain come directly from you. With that in mind, turn off the screen, get up from the chair and interact directly and daily with your child.

About this Blog

The HRC Blog will be a place for sharing information on special topics of interest such as family support, early childhood development, etc. Submit blog entries to Nancy.Spiegel@harborrc.org.

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