From the moment we are born to the earth, humans seek out the connection to their environment. We seek out not only understanding of ourselves in our space, but other human contact and interaction. This ultimately has been built into our instinct. It is how we learn and grow. By observation, interaction, and trial and error we discover how to manipulate the world around us to meet our needs. This is simply how we operate and the instinct or mechanism has only increased in sophistication as we evolve.
As young children, we rely on our parents or caretakers to keep us within a boundary of safety. To guide us through our intrinsic motivation to learn and discover. These important adults in our life structure the boundaries in which we can move through and learn from. Adults play a key role in the development of children. A role of guide. A role of mentor.
The first six years of most children’s lives share one commonality….much more time with their parents or caregivers then when they hit 1st grade in public schooling.
As a private school owner and teacher, I know the name of the game in pre-K is the ratio. Most families first question through the door of any private school they are looking at is, “what is the student to teacher ratio?” This main concern addresses the issue of how many times is my child going to have a personal moment with the school per day? Rightfully so mind you, that parents concern is how much interaction their child will get per day. It is key to our development as humans.
It seems that once a family makes the move to public or traditional education in 1st grade, the system kicks those numbers way up and now you look at a class where the ratio is 1:25 or more in most cases. Whereas in a preschool or private school pre-k we look at on average a 1:10 ratio.
Children need the guidance of an adult throughout their entire school experience. They need someone to nudge them through adversity, to sit with them when they are sad and need an ear, to ask how they are doing, to introduce new concepts in an exciting and meaningful way, to model appropriate social norms and graces. Adults are needed in a child’s life.
Knowing this, how does our current system serve our children? By taking them from pre-K environments where at very least the ratio is much lower and throwing them into a system that is designed to cattle herd children through their experience and produce test scores that get the school funding? It sounds ridiculous to even write. But I do so to make a point.
What we lack in general in the public and traditional schools of America is connection. You see in life, the only thing that is truly certain the breath you are currently taking. Everything else has either happened in the past, or a prediction of what you think will happen in the future. It sounds so cliche but all we truly have is now.
In a society that is riddled with “things” and “stuff,” our youth is now presented with everything they have ever wanted at their fingertips, it is ever so hard to try and get kids back to what is important. None of these “things” none of the “stuff” will ever define who they are and the impact that they have left on the earth. The only thing that will do that is the memory left behind from their connections with others. That is why teaching our youth at a young age the value of engagement with people and their surroundings over the value of the latest iPad or phone is paramount.
So how do we do this effectively? The answer is quite simple. If possible, place your child into an environment or school that promotes connection and has the ability to provide the low student to teacher ratios to allow for a more personalized and meaningful experience. If that is not an option then take matters into your own hands. Surround them with the community. Take the time to talk with your child with no devices present. Actively listen to them. Engage in their conversations. Meet people in your neighborhood, at your school, and plan things with them. It sounds so simple, and that’s because it is. Life is only moving forward...you and your children are only getting older. Do you want to look back on your life and think that you or your child spent more time with a device in hand then with the people that matter to you? Might be harsh, but in my opinion, very true.
Food for thought. Eat up!