(Special contributions from Dawn Rundman, Director of Development)
At Sparkhouse Family, we help parents be Experience Architects for their children.
Children begin responding to their environment--the shapes, the lights, the sounds--as soon as they leave the womb. In fact, some studies have shown that children are responsive to environmental stimuli during the prenatal stage too. (Maybe science doesn’t need to tell us this; after all, we know how a burrito during pregnancy can lead to some major movements!)
In most cases, from the delivery room to their first day of kindergarten, it is parents who are selecting and creating the experiences for their children. Daily routines for waking up, eating, napping, preparing to leave the home—all of these experiences require a parent at the helm. Parents decide how much time to spend on conversation and connection during meals, when to linger and read the book a second or third time, and what toys
Parents are experience architects, if you will.
No one is saying that parents need to change their home into a formal classroom. (That would actually be pretty counter to what little ones need in the first years of life.) But parents can be intentional about how they develop space and time to support their child’s development.
· Parents can select toys and resources that encourage learning. These might include age appropriate books, blocks, puzzles, craft supplies, costumes, music, and other items that inspire creative play.
· Parents can also provide hands on learning opportunities by including children in everyday family tasks such as making dinner. A young child can help add ingredients to a bowl, stir recipes, help set the table, help load the dishwasher, and so on.
· In addition, parents can help the child see the real world as a laboratory for learning. They can talk to their children while engaging in everyday errands like running to the bank or grocery store. They can explain what errands they're running, how goals are achieved, and why doing these tasks are important. This also gives children an opportunity to ask questions.
When parents structure a child’s experiences in a way that increases their engagement with the world around them, children’s development is enhanced and parents gain confidence in their ability as experience architects!
Photo Credit: Paolo Milanesi
Originally Published 8/12/2016