The Joy of Discovery

June 26, 2013

Holton (3 of 4)Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

This past Sunday, we had a family swim party for our granddaughter. Our one-year-old grandson was experiencing the swimming pool for the first time with the entire family. I watched as he splashed, smiled, and then pulled back with apprehension because he wasn’t sure what he could or could not do safely.

It took a couple of hours for him to become comfortable. If we had pushed the process, he would have become very fearful; but with time, he grew more and more relaxed and even dunked his face in the water before the end of the day. It was nice to watch the process, and I admired his mom as she patiently allowed him to experience the pool as he desired. Of course, everyone wanted to hold him, take him for a swim, and show him a good time … but it wasn’t about us. It was about allowing him the time and space to experience what was positive for him.

There are some things you simply cannot rush, and I thought about how difficult it is sometimes to use restraint and allow children the time and space to do what is best for them. Children cannot be hurried through life. They need the opportunity to process, to observe, to think, and to make their own assumptions.

Parenting is typically inconvenient and rarely fits nicely into what we would like to do. However, if we are going to allow our children to explore in a safe and secure environment, we must often put aside our own desires and focus on what is best for them. Too often I witness parents who are in a hurry, pushing their child too fast to excel, or worried about what other people might think of them rather than what is truly needed for their child. I understand the pressures that parents feel; but allowing each child to develop at his own rate is always the right decision, no matter what other children seem to accomplish around them.

Dr. Bruce Perry speaks of discovery:

Children are such curious creatures. They explore, question, and wonder, and by doing so, learn. From the moment of birth, likely even before, humans are drawn to new things. When we are curious about something new, we want to explore it. And while exploring we discover. By turning the light switch on and off over and over again, the toddler is learning about cause and effect. By pouring water into a dozen different-shaped containers and on the floor and over clothes, the 4-year-old is learning pre-concepts of mass and volume. A child discovers the sweetness of chocolate, the bitterness of lemon, the heat of the radiator, and the cold of ice.

Time is a beautiful gift. Refuse to rush your child through life and carefully guard her through discovery time. Discovery builds her self-confidence and is her way of learning. Joining her in her journey will be therapeutic and refreshing for you, so sit back and enjoy!


Give Your Child the Gift of Time

June 19, 2013

listening to your children4Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.


Our fast-paced world produces many casualties. We are often moving so quickly that we deny our children the time that they need to discover who they are. Sometimes we send them mixed messages. We may tell them how important they are to us, but do we truly stop and give them our undivided attention?


Have you ever done this? You ask your young child a question, and you can almost see him forming the answer in his little brain. As soon as he blurts out the essence of his answer, you complete his thought because you’re in such a hurry. Perhaps you are not aware of it, but you have robbed him of a process that is critical to his development. While moving on quickly to the next task might keep the family on schedule, continual failure to allow him to fully formulate his thoughts and express them will impede his development.


Giving your child the gift of time shows that you care. Slow down your pace and be totally present with her. Watch her as she plays. Play is her work, and it is the way she learns about herself and her world. She needs time to explore, to think, to discover, and to process what she uncovers. Sometimes you will need to engage in play with her, and other times it is best to allow her to play independently. Nothing can replace the gift of giving her the time and freedom to discover who she is and to express how she feels. There is no crash course in or early graduation from this period in her life. Trust me.


Most of us live very busy lives, and the summer brings even more activity into our already full calendars. Parents and children are bombarded with noise, stress, deadlines, schedules, and demands … but the summer of 2013 will come only once. Pencil in time every single day that you tune out everything else to watch your preschooler play and look your pre-teen in the eye. If you ask a question, wait on the answer. Schedule purposeful discovery time to find out more about your child and the wonderful world you share together. It is an investment that will pay rich dividends … for both of you.


“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”  ~ Marcel Proust


 Happy Summer! Explore with new eyes!


Parenting Advice: Who Should We Listen to and What Matters?

June 5, 2013

“Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”

These lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” came to mind when I saw a simple Facebook post by a friend of mine asking a question regarding her 10-week-old son. With so much information at our fingertips, parents often feel like they know less and have less as they attempt to find what is trustworthy and accurate. I must admit that I was mortified at some of the “advice” she received from well-meaning people from all walks of life who believed they were assisting her in her dilemma.

In these times, we can find someone who will agree with us on just about any action or situation; and parenting advice is certainly not excluded. So how do parents know which sources to trust? Even our family and friends are not always informed about what is currently considered best practice. Just because they did something with their child and he “turned out just fine,” does not mean that we should use their criteria to determine our parenting decisions. I always tell parents that they are their child’s number-one advocate and to always trust their gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right for you or your child, it probably isn’t. As Benjamin Spock said, “What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.”

Here are my suggestions for today’s parents:

1.     Search until you find a pediatrician who truly supports your parenting journey. Each one of us needs a physician we can trust in every phase of our lives.

2.     Give special attention to health and safety matters first. Ensure that you and your sources remain up-to-date. Listen to the current research and facts about health and safety over the advice of family and friends.

3.     Ask family and friends who are especially diligent about researching everything and are happy to share their findings. If I am going to purchase something that my daughter has recently purchased, all I have to do is ask her. I trust her, and she is an amazing fact-finder. She spent hours researching every detail, and she gives me the abbreviated version of which product is best and why. It is great to have this type of resource in your life regarding parenting matters.

4.     Teachers of young children have real-life experience as well as academic knowledge. These dedicated professionals often prove to be some of the greatest resources for parents.

More information doesn’t necessarily make the parenting journey any easier. Choose your sources wisely and then determine what is best for your child. We all must understand that our best is good enough and that we will grow and learn from each other throughout this journey called Life.

When we are so busy preparing to teach and guide our children, we often find that they are the ones educating and guiding us. All of the planning, researching, and studying can never prepare you for the uniqueness of your child. Don’t miss the joy of the journey by trying too hard. Find your rhythm by determining who you can trust.

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

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