Teaching College

Overview of Connecting to Children Modules

Connecting to Children is a year-long, co-operative, professional development pathway toward enhanced relationships with every young child.

Vinculándose con los niños — Español

Connecting to Children is a locally administered educational experience — a structured project — that develops warmth, happiness, and mutual respect among teachers, children, parents and other staff.

Here it is for free for you to try and carry forward. I am no longer selling Connecting to Children as a product, because I want each human being to have opportunity to choose to do this work and invest in themselves in pursuit of marvelous relationships with children at home or in a school space.

I know I cannot convince anyone to spend the year it takes to complete, but I can give it all to you as an opportunity and invite you to take it on, along with your colleagues. What you will find here is the evidence of what it has done for other people. Linked to this page are descriptions of each of the four modules and what participants have done. You may poke around following your interests and get a sense of the transformation. I know of no one who has regretted this study. They agree that the change in their relationships with children is overwhelming.

Connecting to Children is an opportunity for you and your colleagues to choose to participate in a series of challenges that I promise are life changing. You should know that acting on this choice will not be easy. You should know, too, that it should be your choice; I hope no one will ever be forced into this. However, I am a big fan of offering an incentive, such as a stipend or a pay raise, for participation. Money is good.

Connecting to Children is essentially a Community of Practice, a group study — at least 4 participants — who agree to work together and build understanding together in a year-long study group with about 30 hours of meetings spread over 40 sessions. This is a process or — better — a journey. The possibility of Connecting to Children is a demonstrable, long-term transformation that benefits children and possibly those children’s children.

I invite you to spend a bit of time poking around here to discover the amazing things people do when they make this investment and experience being in control of their own learning. Each module has an overview page and links to the work of past participants.

Four 10-week modules enhance leadership and facilitation.

D1 — Expressing Warmth to Children

Enables adults to develop ways of being genuinely warm and positive to all of the children. All.

D2 — Playing Responsively

Enables adults to open new ways of being, especially for the most difficult to reach children, through one’s responsive playfulness. It’s the Tao module, the discoverable flow of the universe.

D3 — Talking Informatively

Distinguishes habits of talking that place demands upon children and challenges adults to lead by informing, not directing, which, by the way, simultaneously enhances children’s language development.

D4 — Attending to Initiative, Cooperation, and Perseverance

Studies these essential dispositions of effective learners and how adults can be attentive to them. This module culminates in the creation of a Learning Story about either cooperation or perseverance in a child.

Meetings

Participants meet once per week for 45 minutes. Each week participants receive an assignment to investigate a specific aspect of their life with young children, as a parent at home or an educator at school. Participants bring the results of that investigation to the next meeting and talk together in an unstructured way for about 20 minutes. They talk about whatever comes to mind and respond to the sharing of others. Then the Guide (the name for the leader who calls the group together) invites the participants together to reflect about what their experience means and to compile their thoughts. Often the prompt is “What did you discover?” The Guide records the group’s thoughts exactly, prints out the results, and then offers the next investigation assignment. All of this is spelled out in detail in the materials you download.

Each module has 6 investigations. At the end of the series of six, the participants are assigned a Performance of Understanding to document their ability to apply their learning in their work with children to prove they can enhance children’s lives.

The transformation is a change in a way of being present to children, listening more carefully, being more relaxed and joyous, and having a more powerful image of the  child. Such a transformation is difficult to describe in words, but I can see it in Kimiko Hihara’s paintings. Here is how she communicates her transformation when she completed all four modules of Connecting to Children.

My feeling when working with children before
My feeling when working with children before
my feeling after Connecting to Children
my feeling after Connecting to Children

Constructivist Education

The four modules do not provide lectures, readings or convincing anyone of anything. The four modules provide sequenced experiences for people, of all cultures and backgrounds, in any shared language. Each participant has an opportunity to talk to and be engaged with others in collaborative research to (1) construct their own understanding, (2) define their values, and (3) practice new ways of being with children. The sessions are led by a local leader (The Guide) who can be anyone with senior experience with children. No outside “expert” is needed. Connecting to Children is available to anyone to use in a self-contained package with everything the Guide needs.

Invitation

In addition to the materials, I am offering examples of the work of past participants, so you can begin to see the transformation that can occur. It is difficult, I think, for anyone to describe what people learn in constructivist education, because each participant builds his or her own piece uniquely. I can, however, offer a description of the specific goal and the steps involved, but I can’t say what happens to any one person, no more than I can specify what any person will do at a birthday party.  I invite you to poke around to get a glimpse into how others have taken action to step out of habitual ways of being — in concert with others — and construct new understandings of how to connect to children.

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