When people talk or think about education or educating children, they mostly think about areas of children’s development and learning such as literacy, math, science, technology and the multitude of other subjects within the educational system. These are obviously very important but the one area that is just as important to a child’s growth and well being is how to be a human, a good, well balanced, caring and understanding human.
When writing something like this, I feel it only fair to supply people with information about myself so that they understand where or why I have gained my ‘opinions’.
I am a Supervisor at one of Coded-Minds programs, but my experience and qualifications are varied. In England I was a Clinical Hypnotherapist and NLP Counsellor (Neuro Linguistic Programming). In Canada I studied in Childcare Education to the highest level 3 and qualified to American Hypnotist. I was also a ski instructor in Europe and taught many groups of children ranging from 7 – 16 years of age and I have volunteered for over 8 years with the RCMP in the Victims Service and ran a Theatre group for both Adults and children (the children were most fun !) I also did a Conflict Resolution.
But back to the important stuff! Children! – how can we help them to become the humans we would like to be surrounded by?
As an educator having worked with children as young as 2 years of age, it is my opinion that it is our duty and responsibility to help children through many situations and teach them life skills. Each child is an individual and so it has to be a priority to get to know that child, so that we can understand better what ‘that’ child needs and how he or she copes. This will most never be the same for each child.
I have known many adults with exceptionally high qualifications, but their people skills have been virtually non-existent. For most of us, (even with the Covid-19 circumstance) it is human interaction that can be as difficult as the job. As we become adults, it is our life/people skills that we learnt as a child that can greatly affect our day to day life
This is not something that can be dealt with in one blog so I will start with just two elements – empathy and communication and maybe I will get a chance to write further another time on ‘educating the whole human’. Firstly – children are not born with empathy. They are born with the capacity to have empathy, but it only develops under certain conditions.
One example I often share is one I observed at a daycare in the toddlers room. One toddler was sitting quietly when another toddler chose to bump him on the head with a stuffy bear. The victim cried and so the toddler repeated the action, laughing. As I went to rescue the victim, a third toddler grabbed the stuffy and bumped it over the offenders head. The offender turned and started to cry, while watching the third toddler hug the first victim. The offender then went and hugged his victim too. It was amazing to see that the third toddler had shown empathy and brought out empathy in the first little offender by giving him a taste of his own medicine. Maybe actions were used as at his stage he didn’t have the words to say.
Parents/siblings/other adults, peers, all play a critical role in developing a child’s empathy. Their behavior towards others with a lack of empathy can lead to some serious problems in childhood and beyond.
So – how do we as adults/educators help them?
Empathize with your child and model empathy for others. Children learn from watching us and others, so that when we empathize with our children, they develop trusting, secure attachments with us and realize that they can make others feel safe by utilizing those same words or actions
Studies have shown that around 2 years of age, children start to show genuine empathy, understanding how other people feel even when they don’t feel the same way themselves. Not only do they feel another person’s pain, but they can actually try to soothe it. What a better world would we all live in if this was how humans were steered towards being at an earlier age?
Starting at school is a WHOLE new learning experience. Having to share, queue up, listen, be still, routines, controlling emotions, communicating correctly – yes – communicating correctly – the BIG ONE! How many times do you hear, “I just can’t talk to them”! or, “They just don’t listen”! …….COMMUNICATION!
Talking to each other at a level that everyone gets to say their piece, share how they ‘feel’, is so important. I have dealt with family feuds by having the whole family together and using a ‘talking stick’. It can be a ‘talking spoon, stuffy, cushion’ whatever it is, no one talks except for the person holding it. This gives everyone the chance to actually actively listen, not just hear! Then to respond to each other, in turn, afterwards. Communication is not just about talking, it is also about practicing active listening.
Getting children to sit down and listen to what the other person is feeling because of what they said or did helps them realize that it’s not just about ‘them’. It opens their minds. To ‘discuss’ rather than ‘argue’. Even the words we use can change the atmosphere of the conversation. Texting is such a great media for certain situations as giving information, basic facts. However, it can be a poor communication choice if it is dealing with a more emotional subject.. If I write “Well that’s great”, how many ways am I actually meaning that? Without clarity of voice tone, it could be sarcastic or praising. Face to face or voice to voice communication can have such an influence on how things can be dealt with and difficult situations eradicated.
So what do we do? Is possibly what you are thinking! Here are a few tips:
Empathize with the child. For example, “How did it make you feel? Share a story of your own so that they can believe why you understand them.
Talk about others’ feelings and again, share an event when you learnt how you had affected someone else. It shows them that you learnt.
Be a role model in all you say and do – “they are watching you”!
Communicate openly and honestly with them. Sharing your feelings gives them the confidence to share with you. Especially as they get older.
Role model how you talk to others. By saying, “ Honey can we discuss why you bought that expensive ring when we can’t afford the rent?”, is certainly going to enter into their subconscious at a way better level than “What the heck did you do that for?!”
I hope that you enjoyed this first attempt at sharing a couple of the elements on how to ‘Educate the whole human’ and that you are interested to read the next one ? Hopefully it has planted a seed of thought and help your days to be better out there with the other humans.
– Lucy Mills
Did you know Coded Minds is a pioneer in iSTEAM and one of the first companies to integrate it into their learning objectives and educational programs? To enrol your child in iSTEAM learning or learn how to integrate iSTEAM into your educational program or curriculum, CLICK HERE.