"Capacity building" is something we most often hear in the context of businesses and organizations. The questions from Harvard's Center on the Developing Child use that phrase in a way that we, as teachers and caregivers, might not be thinking about. As an educator, I am interested in whole child outcomes: I look for more than just numbers on a page. I hope to support each child in my classroom as he or she learns about the world, from serving themselves snack to being a dinosaur, trying power on for size.
This Frontiers of Innovation project suggests that we focus on improving adult capacities: how do we move beyond the pamphlet in the pediatrician's waiting room? How do we engage the community around positive child outcomes? How might we go beyond simply sharing information and truly engage caregivers? We know that passionate, knowledgeable teachers are effective, and we can apply that idea to the diverse kinds of caregiving that exist, from family members to community members.
These ideas articulate a major idea behind Play Lab: what if we all understood children better? What if we all respected childhood more? We all interact with children, even if we do not have children of our own or work with them. Play is the work of the child, and our actions and understandings, as adults, affect children's lives. This is not to say that everyone needs a degree in child development, but instead, we just need to to acknowledge that children are in our world and we can have a positive impact on child outcomes.
Beyond working with children and parents in Early Childhood settings, how can we support positive caregiving? What are ways that we can empower caregivers?