Early Interactions that Shape Success

The reading for this week discusses how the first 36 months of a child’s life has the potential to determine his or her intellectual capacity and future success as a student (Christensen, 2011, p.149). If this is the case, as research confirms, interventions and reforms even at the kindergarten or elementary level may be too late. However, the way in which parents speak to their children has been found to have a very significant affect on cognitive achievement, especially in the first year of a child’s life—even before there is evidence that a child can understand or respond to what the parent is saying (p.149).

The conversations and words that matter most, talk about “’what ifs,’ ‘do you remember,’ ‘shouldn’t you,’ ‘wouldn’t it be better if,’ and so on”—it is deliberate, uncompromised, personal adult conversation” called ‘language dancing’ which “has been shown to cultivate curiosity in children” (pg.150-151). This type of conversation invites an infant or child to observe, question, and think deeply about the world around them. Parents who are uneducated or uninformed and do not engage their children in this face to face adult talk, seriously disadvantage their children who will struggle in school and likely continue to fall further and further behind.

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Christensen suggests that the best way to attack the root of what could be a multigenerational cycle of poverty and poor education is to teach children how to be parents before they become parents (pg. 153, 155). It seems like such a simple and fundamental solution, but may have the greatest impact by teaching children how to shape the early interactions they will have with their children in order to help them develop cognitively and succeed in school.

This understanding also informs how and what I will teach my students so as to intervene and alter the futures of the their children and the many generations to follow. Also, while it will certainly be my job to do all that I can to meet the needs of every student, accepting that this is an uphill battle with roots tying back to the early development of each student, may help prevent some of the frustration, exhaustion and burn-out for teachers who continually pour their hearts into students but may feel the challenges are insurmountable.

A quick note about my KindleReader experience this week: I am definitely more comfortable and familiar with this learning tool now that our text is coming to an end. I still think the highlighting feature could be improved to be more organized—perhaps by chapter—for those who are avid highlighters! In hopes of making a few sections stand out more amidst the many highlights, I bookmarked a few pages, which helped me to quickly identify those more significant passages.

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