The keys to reducing violence in society lie in the experiences our youngest children receive at the beginning of their lives. The Harvard Center for the Developing Mind explains:
In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient. In light of these findings, focussing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-
It's as if the experiences during the first few years of life, set the blueprint for all of the learning that lies ahead.
So we definitely want children to make strong connections and form many neural pathways for positive behaviors such as problem-solving, assertiveness, and empathy during the early years. Those very behaviors can counteract other methods of coping with problems such as blame, bias and bullying.
In the right environment, with the right caregivers, children learn to make the right connections which lead to the right decisions. When they use and practice these behaviors repeatedly, those connections are strengthened.
When trauma or traumatic stress occurs, the ability of the brain to make connections is compromised.
Excess cortisol can destroy brain cells and lessen synapse density in some parts of the brain. Chronically high levels of cortisol have been associated with some developmental delays and neuralogical impairments. -Re-thinking The Brain, Families and Work Institute, 1997-
If you're an "elite" caregiver, you do focus on early childhood.
And if you're like me, you wonder what's going to come next. Will the early years be highlighted and changes be made? Or will we continue to falter?
Our childcare system has been called the most broken business in America. Why? In short, because the parents can't afford to pay and childcare teachers can't afford to stay.
Studies estimate annual turnover rates of between 26 and 40 percent for early childhood educators in licensed facilities. That's bad for children, parents and providers.
That's not acceptable.
Parents, teachers and administrators in early childhood need to join forces and demand more for ourselves and for our chidren.
Here's an idea. How about imposing a coffee and soda tax with a government match to fund early childhood birth -3.
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I'd like to start by offering you a free copy of my 22-page slideshow, How To Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling Or Time-Outs.
It's designed for parents and teachers to discuss together so get as many parents as you can and join forces. If there ever were any walls put up between childcare providers and parents, now is the time to break them down and operate together on the side of our youngest.
Join us now and get this slideshow which includes what to say when your child hits, tattles and when they refuse to clean up. It's taken from 43+ year of experience and a couple of higher level degrees.
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human dev from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI and is the founder of early childhood rocks, a non-profit org dedicated to creating change through early childhood education.