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Appreciating and Growing the Active Ingredient in Early Childhood Education

by Dana Winters and Junlei Li
January/February 2019
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/appreciating-and-growing-the-active-ingredient-in-early-childhood-education/5024563/

Understanding everyday human interactions as the “active ingredient” of human development (Li & Julian, 2012) can be a helpful reminder for what truly matters in the work of serving children and families. Across many early childhood education contexts, these human relationships already exist between teachers and children, though they are sometimes undervalued and under-recognized. How do we appreciate and grow these relationships and communicate their importance to broader audiences?

At the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, we have been developing and adapting an approach called “Simple Interactions” to put this active ingredient concept into practice for early childhood education. We refer to interactions rather than relationships, because we have found that it is often more helpful to support educators to notice and appreciate interactions as the building blocks of child development, rather than fully formed developmental relationships as a whole. Working with children’s helpers across contexts and age groups, we encounter many settings in which educators may not have the luxury of time and duration to build a full relationship with children and families. Nevertheless, their moment-to-moment interactions matter a great deal, and such interactions can be seen and described in very specific ways. Through Simple ...

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