The Institute for Childhood Education will improve the quality of life of children by increasing the capacity of families, caregivers, schools and communities to nurture children physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively and spiritually.
The Institute for Childhood Education provides state of the art web-based training and professional development resources for families, caregivers, schools and community agencies to support relationships and interactions which promote the development of well-nurtured children.
The development of well-nurtured children is optimized in environments where physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual growth is supported. A responsive relationship with a caring adult in a playful, sensory-rich environment is the context in which healthy development occurs. Nurturing environments honor a sense of wonder, value and respect childhood, and allow children to develop at an unhurried pace.
The Institute for Childhood Education is dedicated to providing training, resources and materials to families, care givers, teachers and administrators supporting the development of well-nurtured children. A well nurtured child is a connected child—connected to self, parents and family and significant others in his life. There is an underlying sense of hope and optimism that give him confidence to embrace life.
A child that is connected to self is able to identify, understand and express emotions in a healthy manner. He holds within himself a sense of value and personal worth. A healthy connection to self does not happen by accident. It is nurtured by attuned and responsive parents and caregivers who respond to the child’s needs with genuine care and warmth.
The well-nurtured child is connected to parents through focused attention and playful interactions. He has a sense of “felt safety (Purvis, 2007), and the knowledge that there are trusted adults in his life that will take care of him and protect him. The connected child finds a “secure base° in relationships with parents and care givers that allow the child to take appropriate risks, and explore the world and how it works.
Well nurtured children are able to form relationships with peers and others outside the home. They are able to respond to others with empathy and compassion. They have internalized moral values that allow them to “do to others what they would have done to them.° The connected child is able to set healthy boundaries that allow them to enjoy reciprocal and meaningful relationships.
Our society presents many challenges for those who seek to raise well nurtured children. Poverty, materialism and misuse of technology are three of most insidious forces that seek to undermine our efforts to raise connected children. The energies of many parents are sapped by working long hours simply to make ends meet and put food on the table. Despite their best efforts many families’ basic needs are not met, undermining a sense of hope and optimism, causing children and adults alike to question one’s worth. There are other ills that often accompany poverty—drug abuse, violence, alcohol abuse, crime—things that rob children of their childhood, a sense of “felt safety and protection.
Materialism on the other hand is equally insidious, but often goes unrecognized as a “societal ir because it masquerades as “success.° The “desire to acquire° is not in and of itself a negative pursuit but when affluence is pursued at the expense of relationships, families often live under the same roof as virtual strangers. Parents find themselves caught up in the frenzied race to provide their children with the biggest house, the best schools, designer clothes, the latest technological toy and the most expensive sports gear. But with all of their good intentions, they fail to give the most important thing of all—a responsive, nurturing relationship. Our affluent suburbs are populated by people who are relationally impoverished which in the opinion of the Institute for Childhood Education is the worst kind of poverty.
Technology is a double edged sword—it saves lives, saves time and allows us to be more efficient. But, unfortunately, at all levels of our society, it is used as a human substitute. Children of all socioeconomic classes come home to empty houses and spend hours alone with an electronic babysitter—TV, computer, video games and gadgets. Never before in the history of the world have children spent so much time playing alone and interacting with machines instead of humans. The well nurtured child has limited and appropriate access to technology.
It is the desire of The Institute for Childhood Education to provide families, care givers, teachers and administrators the information and tools needed to create homes and learning environments that nurture connected children.