Have we done a good enough job of building empathy in our homes, communities, and institutions?
Apparently not, since lack of empathy is a big concern in the United States and the World.
Although so many well-meaning people see that more empathy is needed, who really knows how to build it? Where do we start?
How do we possibly build understanding between people who are born into a world of fear and distrust? Here's an idea from an unlikely place.
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has a mission to align science with real life in early care and education.
Jack Shonkoff, the director of the center sees it like this,
The alignment of science with lived experience should be driving new ideas. Early childhood policy can’t just be seen as education policy, or as health policy alone. It also has to be part of environmental policy, housing policy—areas where policymakers wouldn’t have previously thought about bringing in an early childhood lens. We have to be thinking about how to achieve greater impact on a global scale. Jack Shonkoff
What a concept!
Here's why early childhood experiences matter so much.
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, focusing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-
Please click on this link to learn more about the global impact of early childhood experiences and the important research being done right now at Harvard.
Here's another important question to be thinking about.
Who cares for our children during their first few years in the US?
I wish I could confirm otherwise but after 40+ years of working and studying in the field, I've seen with my own eyes that it's mostly the working poor, underpaid, and unpaid. This is the "system" that's been built.
I'm sorry but who decided that? Someone who thought it must be easy work? Someone who thought caring for our youngest citizens could be done by just about anyone at all? Or thought those entrusted with our most precious and malleable human beings probably wouldn't need much education or even emotional intelligence to do the job?
This current setup makes no sense in light of brain research that's been around since the 90"s.
What can we do instead? Here's a glimpse of what it might look like to invest in ECE for a CHANGE! Enjoy this heartwarming video and realize the power that you possess as you care for the world's youngest citizens.
Thanks for taking the time to read and view this today! Please know how important you are to the children you care for and the society you help prepare them for.
If you want to know more specifically, what to say and how to best promote empathy in your environment, I've included some of my best parent and teacher resources below. Some topics are whining, hitting, cleaning up, tattling, sharing, potty training, reading, boundary setting and more!
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! (click on the word) She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She has presented at statewide and nationwide conferences. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.