By Guest Blogger Gillian Goodman, M.Ed., M.B.A., Greensboro Day School Lower School Director
Don’t you wish it came with an instruction manual? What works for one child doesn’t always work for another, and the rules are constantly changing! The research, however, is clear. We know what happens in early childhood matters for a lifetime. Positive experiences have a marked impact on mental and physical health, behavior, and learning throughout life.
Because the brain is optimally flexible early in life, it is important to set the stage for the future by providing children with stable, nurturing relationships and an engaging environment for learning. During the infant, toddler, and preschool years, young children develop brain architecture as multiple neural connections are made. As they enter formal schooling in kindergarten and beyond, those neural connections continue to take shape.
Children spend the majority of their lives in schools, so it is critical that their early learning experiences are ones that foster healthy relationships, optimal brain development, empathy, and resilience. Educators who understand both neuroscience and child development (and who are lifelong learners themselves) are the ideal role models for young children. They routinely create learning experiences that are engaging, thoughtful, and rooted in sound research. They are adept at keeping children on their “mental tiptoes” with just enough challenge to be enticing, not frustrating.
Equally important for children are the roles we play as parents. Our children need to hear from us that failure is not only okay, but it is essential to learning. They need to know that we see them, we hear them, and we will support them when they make mistakes. This means that we provide them with undivided attention daily – time free from distractions like cell phones or computers. It means that we look at their faces when they are speaking to us so we can see the concern, the joy, the worry, or the wonder in their eyes. It means we read books, play board games, and spend time outside … often!
As you navigate the world of education with your child, make sure to check in frequently: Does your child feel a sense of connection and belonging in his or her school community? Does your child have a choice and a voice during the course of the school day? Does your child feel that he or she has the tools and support they need in order to be successful at school? Affirmative answers to these questions mean that your child is growing in important ways that are building the foundation for success in life.
If you would like to experience exemplary education taking place for students age 2 to grade 4, please join us for an open house at Greensboro Day School on Wednesday, November 13 from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m. RSVP online at greensboroday.org/visit. The open house will include an overview of the Lower School, a student-led tour, a meet-and-greet with our teachers, a message from our Head of School, and the chance to see our classrooms in action.
- Sponsored by Greensboro Day School
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