This is a lovely time of year to reflect on our values and to make sure our children know what they are. Our values are reflected in how we raise our children and in the programs, experiences and curricula we create for them. Here are some of my values that we use as a basis for all our work with educators, parents and children. (newworldkids.org)
I value the strengths of each child. Neuroscience tells us that each brain is organized as uniquely as a fingerprint. We are born with temperaments, proclivities and potentials that are unlike anyone else. I see it as my duty as an educator and parent to seek out those strengths, help a child build upon them, and encourage the confidence that can come from true self-knowledge.
I value accentuating the positive. Whatever the strengths of a child, they can be seen as either positive or negative. I choose to look for positive expressions of that strength. For example, a child who lies a lot is also a superior storyteller. A bossy child might make a strong leader. I choose to look for the storyteller or leader and provide opportunities for positive expressions of that strength. Decades ago, research from Project Zero showed what happens when a child and his parents have very different strengths: As long as the parents appreciated and went “with the grain” of the child’s natural way of being, development progressed nicely. When a parent tried to squelch natural behaviors and force behaviors they preferred, development went into a holding pattern. Instead of trying to “fix” or change a child, I look for positive ways to help that child develop and use his strengths.
I value diversity. We all different—and for this I am grateful. The best groups, the best problem solvers, are those who can share their varied viewpoints and strengths. I want my children to learn early that competition is not as valuable as cooperation and mutual understanding—that we don’t have to use violence and war to solve our personal and global problems—that we can find ways to work together.
I value creative thinking. Flexibility and resilience are developed through the practice of creative work. Our children will face challenges we may not be able to even imagine. To me, the best we can do is to prepare them to deal creatively with change and more change. To this end, we provide opportunities for children to observe and use all their senses to take in information, to extend their senses through appropriate tools, to explore and investigate a variety of objects and subjects, to play and tinker in both traditional and digital media, to give form to ideas, to reflect on their experiences and themselves as thinkers, and to constantly strive to improve themselves and their world.
I value the Sensory Alphabet: line, color, texture, shape, sound, movement, rhythm, space, light.
This non-verbal vocabulary is a kind of “rosetta stone” in that it can be used both to translate and articulate the qualities of the concrete and digital world, as well as to provide a means to talk about the positive creative strengths of a child. It builds a bridge between a child and her world and work and between the creative works of diverse minds. Deceptively simple, the Sensory Alphabet (the “missing” alphabet) is a powerful instrument to facilitate the development of unique creative strengths.
These are some of my values. What are yours? Don’t neglect to share them with your children…
Here’s to a glorious 2015!