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Relationship with the Child As our research has shown, development occurs in relationship (Luvmour 2006; Luvmour 2010a). It is well established that the relationship with attuned educators and parents determines behavioral and mental well-being in children. Attunement is when one person (such as a parent or teacher) focuses attention on the internal world of another (such as a child) (Siegel 2007). Another way of talking about focusing attention on the internal world of the child is called resonance in which we create a relationship of mutual understanding and trust with a child.
We now know through research in interpersonal neurobiology that relationships shape the developing
brain (Siegel 2008). We also know that the right input at the right time throughout a child’s developmental years helps the brain develop securely and normally. It’s all about relationship. Experience orchestrates what gets activated from genetics in the ongoing adaptive shaping of our neural systems. In this way, experience creates the actual hardwiring of our brains throughout childhood as we develop, learn, and grow.
In my practice, I am often asked how we can educate children in a way that allows for their special talents
and capabilities to be actualized. The most important thing in education is the educator’s relationship (including parents and all professional caregivers) to the child’s developmental moment and the organizing principle. Education is essentially about developing the child’s capacities to full potential. An educational relationship that encourages the child to access and express the fullness of his or her being is what is called for. We should not settle for anything less.
Interpersonal relationship is the center of learning for both child and adult. Mutually respectful relationships between us and our students create the context in which inspiration can emerge, and those
relationships form the basis for successful learning.
This calls for a movement forward in education that focuses on the consciousness of the child instead of on educating children to pass standardized tests or government norms. Educational communities of consciousness can create environments that nurture the child’s innate capacities that are organizing in each age of development. All other learning should revolve around this. In this view, education can only be about the child’s self-knowledge at each stage of development in relationship with those who are willing to engage the dance of mutual development.
Natural Learning Relationships: Consciousness of the Developing Child
Birth thru 7 Rightful Place Boundaries and Strength Conscious of the whole body as environment explorations that bring feedback of pleasant or unpleasant sensations. Information from sensory-based explorations helps the child make mental/emotional maps of self and the world, which are then used to navigate reality. I belong when I sense I am connected. Sensory expressions are my language. I know I am loved, wanted, and cared for. I feel secure in my family and connected. I know my boundaries and can explore my world safely.
8 thru 12 Trust Reciprocal Cooperation Conscious of the wider spectrum of feelings and emotions. Awareness of personal mortality opens the heart to the value and importance of a relationship. Positive feeling relationships engender trust and provide information about identifying and navigating emotions. I feel self in trust relationships with others. Communication about feeling relationships is valued. I trust my own goodness so I can make mistakes and learn. I trust myself and those around me, to be honest, and caring about feelings. I engage and cooperate with people.
13 thru 18 Autonomy Individuation, Identity, and Personal Power, Freedom Conscious of growing autonomy with a new ability to create an identity to meet social relationships. Increasingly aware of personal ideals that are then projected onto others and the world. Self-conscious yet pushing toward freedom that will help the child uncover his or her core nature. I think and have agency. Responds to communication that inquires into his or her ideas. Gravitates towards those who will co-create limits with safe social explorations. I can self-govern and make healthy choices. I have organized an identity that can express my ideas. I can navigate a wide variety of social environments confidently. I am resilient and can be responsible with freedom.
19 thru 23 Interconnectedness, Humor, Humility Intentionality, Incisiveness, Relationship, and Systems Creation Conscious of self as interconnected and global with a broad time sense — expanding over the past, present, and future. Aware that relationships are interconnected so prioritizes formation of substantive values. New ability emerges from reviewing the past and constructing a self to project into the desired future. Integrity is the presence in the moment with interconnected unity between subject and object. I am present, dynamic, and seek those who will assist my construction of meaning. I engage in dialogue with others to explore hypothetical perspectives and play. I have a sense of enduring values. My life has the purpose, meaning, and direction. I understand my past and can act in the present to create the future I want. I commit. I can communicate with others and make meaning together to create a better social world.