I am so happy and grateful that the children, families and faculty of Sandy Hook Elementary school are in the process of trying to regain normalcy again. It helped so much to hear how the children were so excited to come back to school and to see their friends. I also really appreciated the sensitivity, and compassion shown by the police department there. They were very interested in making sure that the school still appeared to be a school, while protecting everyone. This would help the children in returning to their normal routines and the life they had before that tragic incident.
A WINNING APPROACH
What I find so wonderful about this is that the police were trying to find a win-win situation for everyone. They looked for and found a way to do their jobs in protecting everyone and doing it in a way that would also protect the children’s emotional as well as physical well being. I feel that this is a good start that we can take even further.
I felt this approach combined both the hearts and minds of people. This same approach needs to be taken in our school system overall. A holistic approach to educating and preparing our children for the future will result in children that are better prepared to be successful and productive adults. As an Early Childhood Consultant and Trainer, I see the vast differences in how we prepare our young and what happens once they reach elementary, middle and high school and beyond.
CREATING AND MAINTAINING A STRONG FOUNDATION
In Early Childhood Education we make sure that development and learning are taking place in four key areas. These key areas are the corner stone of Child Development, they are Physical Development, Cognitive, Social and Emotional Development. Although there are many different types of curriculums, they all are built around these four cornerstones.
The best way to think about it is to look at how buildings are built. First a foundation is built that will support the building. The taller the building the deeper the foundation has to be. When that foundation is being built, the builders don’t focus all of their activity on one side of the building or one area of the building. All parts of the building is being built on the same level basically so that the building isn’t built lopsided. So if you can imagine a square building all four corners are being built at the same time and moving up from there.
Using the Early Childhood Model, development in all four core areas are taking place at the same time. Any areas that need more development depending on the child are addressed. From my observation this approach seems to stop at first grade and cognitive learning takes over from there until the child graduates from high school.
TWEAKING OUR EDUCATIONAL MODEL
The reason why this model needs examining is because you can’t detect deficiencies in emotional or social development. It’s not designed to catch and correct these deficiencies before they become harmful to the person with this problem and society as a whole. There is so much emphasis on test scores and grades and not enough attention on skills and characteristics that are needed in adulthood besides book knowledge. Skills like empathy, compassion, cooperation are not emphasized as much. Children used to develop these skills during recess or at afterschool programs. Also things like creativity and creative expression are non existent.
I want to make one thing clear. I am not knocking the school system. I am not the first parent and educator to feel that there is so much emphasis on test scores etc. I do feel that we have to look at the bigger picture and try to prevent as much as possible on all levels, deviant behavior. In looking at how bullying, violence and other anti-social behavior deeper to get to the origin of it, we can create a happier and more safer world for us all.