Parents are the Most Important People in the Life of a Child

April 27, 2011

I am reminded this week of a beautiful quote by Louis Pasteur:

When I approach a child
He inspires in me two sentiments:
Tenderness for what he is,
And respect for what he may become.

There is nothing more beautiful to me than the innocence of a child. I am reminded that the environment that I create and the interactions that I have with that child will affect who that child becomes. It is an awesome responsibility.

Children only have one childhood and adults only have one chance to get it right. While I do believe that adults understand this, I do not believe that we allow that sobering thought to guide every decision we make for our children. I firmly believe that if we did, we would all make different decisions on a daily basis. I know that I wish I could go back and redo some decisions and mistakes I made with my own precious children. Life does not allow us that luxury. We put our imprint on them while they are young and it stays.

As parents, educators, and influential adults, we must carefully weigh each decision we make and how it impacts any child in our life. Every child deserves respect, kindness, a chance to be heard and understood, and an environment that is safe and nurturing. I challenge us all to weigh our decisions as we make them, so that when we reflect, we have no regrets.

Don’t assume your child feels loved, safe, or understood. Take the time to talk, give a hug, or offer reassurance. If you have made mistakes, correct them and start over. Try not to rush through any stage of development. Some stages might feel more frustrating to you than others but each one has beautiful moments. Find a way to savor those moments and celebrate them, your child will benefit from that positive exchange with you.

Parents are the most important people in a child’s life. Use your power wisely… “Tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become” with YOUR help and guidance.

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From an Idea to a Billion Acts

April 22, 2011

From an idea to a billion acts…It all began with noticing. Have you ever noticed something that really bothered you, but you thought that you could never make a difference?

Earth Day is April 22, 2011. In 1963, Senator Gaylord Nelson began to notice that our planet was getting very dirty. He became more and more concerned that plants and animals were dying, and it seemed that not very many people really cared. He wasn’t sure that one person could make a difference. In 1969, he decided that it would be good to set aside a special day to focus on the issues affecting our planet. In 1970, the first Earth Day was held.

Now, one of the beautiful things about working with young children is that we simplify the facts. I will insert a great tip here for you in case you haven’t figured this out yet. If you are going to a new city and you want to tour its highlights, buy a great children’s book about it. A children’s book will give you the basic facts without too much detail.

As adults, we know that things do not just happen. There has been a lot of hard work between Senator Gaylord Nelson noticing and Earth Day’s goal of a Billion Acts of Green pledged around the world. However, it all began with someone who noticed, cared, and was determined to make a difference.

I challenge you to notice—really notice—your child or any child around you today. What are the struggles in your home or in your community? Perhaps you have noticed but felt there was nothing one person or even a small group could do. I would challenge you to reconsider. Try and try again. Continue to pursue important things that will make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. What we do might not move from an observation to a billion acts, but who knows? The impact could be just as great. It all begins with noticing and then caring enough to get involved.

Happy Earth Day!


Celebrating Children

April 10, 2011

Week of the Young ChildWeek of the Young Child April 10-16

Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), to focus attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. This is the 40th year of celebration. The theme this year is “The Early Years are Learning Years”.

At Children’s Choice this week, you will see many activities that celebrate children, educators, and families. We believe that the early years ARE learning years. We begin early. We understand the importance of the first year of life. Our infants have individual lesson plans. We place great emphasis on reading to infants and we also realize that connection is the beginning of literacy. We must spend time with each child, understand the individual need of each one and then have a plan for meeting those needs.

We celebrate the uniqueness of each child. Every child deserves love, respect, and to have a sense of belonging in their environment. The toys, pictures, books, and educators must reflect the cultural diversity of the children in our programs. Inclusion is important to Children’s Choice. Every child deserves to feel respected and included.

We believe that children deserve to be protected and we urge parents, communities and educators to work together to stand up for children in need. Together we can make a difference. The Week of the Young Child is a great time to look for ways to get more involved in supporting agencies that protect vulnerable children or children that have been harmed. While every child deserves respect and love, some have suffered tremendous pain and if we all work together, we can make a difference in their young lives.

Someone once said, “We worry about what our children will become yet we forget that he is someone today”. Let’s celebrate each child this week. Love them, hug them, and teach them well. Let’s also celebrate the people who lovingly care for them daily. “In union, there is strength” Aesop.


“Pleasure, My Job!”

April 6, 2011

I was having one of those amazing “tea parties” at the pool a couple of years ago with my grand-daughter, Ava, then three years old.  This experience can only happen between a grandmother and her granddaughter. My little Ava poured me a cup of tea to which I respectfully said, “Thank you very much” and I was a little surprised when she replied, “Pleasure, my job.” I was sure that she had picked that up from some fine dining at the Ritz.  When her mom picked her up later that day, I told her about the experience. Misty quickly informed me that she must have learned that customer service phrase (Ava’s version of the phrase) from Chick-fil-a.  She mentioned that at Chic-fil-a they say something very similar and Ava LOVES to go there. My daughter had no idea that Ava had noticed or picked up on the phrase.

It made me stop and think: what am I saying or doing that is influencing the children/young adults in my life and I am not even aware? What words are they choosing to repeat that they hear me speak? What attitudes are reflections of the ones that I demonstrate?

Children are sponges. We think that if they are playing peacefully at our feet, engaged in an activity and not looking at us that they are not soaking up what we are saying and/or doing. My daughter Misty had not observed that Ava had shown any interest in the process of ordering or receiving food at Chick-fil-a. Obviously, she was keenly aware and knew how to use the term correctly.  It was a reminder to us of how much our children observe about their everyday world.

“You have to be very careful about what you say.

More importantly, you have to be very careful about what you do.

You never know how or when you influence people – especially children.”

– Truett Cathy founder of Chick-fil-a

Obviously, he was right!

I believe that it is very easy to forget how impressionable children are, so a gentle reminder serves us all well. If I have been helpful to anyone today, well, it was a, “Pleasure, my job”.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers