Most children and adults thrive in an environment which supports authentic opportunities for exploration, learning and growth. So, the question becomes how do we create a healthy environment for children to reach their full potential? The answer is connection. “There is now an explosion of knowledge that tells us that healthy development cannot happen without good relationships between children and the important people in their lives, both within the family and outside of it” (Clinton, 2013, pg. 5-6). Dr. Jean Clinton is the author of The Power of Positive Adult Child Relationships: Connection is the Key published in the Think, Feel, Act document (2013). She examines and explains the importance of creating connection with young children.
Dr. Clinton wrote extensively regarding the significance of children’s connection with caregivers on learning compared to being guided and regulated. The C:D:C Ratio stands for Correcting (undesirable behaviour): Directing (accepted actions/behaviours): Connecting (in meaningful exchanges) and refers to the way adults spend time interacting with children. As educators, parents, or caregivers, we are likely to feel connected to those we spend our days with, however, we may find ourselves spending more time on Correcting and Directing, leaving little time for Connecting (Clinton, 2013). Have you reflected on your daily C:D:C ratio?
Dr. Clinton (2013) explained, “the challenge is, how can you build relationships with children if you are always interrupting their work, directing them to the new activity or routine, and correcting them if they do not follow expectations?” (Pg. 7). This perspective offers an opportunity for reflection and self-accountability. When we realize children have an alternative expectation or desired outcome from an activity than the adult intended, we should appreciate and celebrate their discovery of self. Creating a positive environment, in which children are supported to explore and learn about the wonders of the world is essential for the social and emotional learning of children.
Social and Emotional Learning
According to Think, Feel, Act social and emotional learning is the process in which children develop skills to support their success in learning, forming good relationships, solving problems, and adapting to new situations (2013). The acquisition of most learning skills transpires in the family home, however the time spent with educators and caregivers can be imperative. Dr. Clinton (2013) explains “there is an emphasis on social and emotional learning, with a special focus on positive adult-child interactions, children and young people do well” (Pg. 9). This fact seems valid for adults and children alike. Humans thrive when they are supported by caring individuals who are committed to their well-being and development. Therefore, understanding the C:D:C ratio is imperative to forming a nurturing environment for children to develop healthy social and emotional learning, as well as acknowledging that building personal connections may not come as naturally for some educators or children as it does for others. Connecting with children through meaningful interactions and play builds trust, while modeling social and emotional regulation skills promotes healthy child development. It is our role as educators, family members, and caregivers to include the children as active participants in their play and learning. This requires less correcting and directing, and more connecting.
Clinton, J. (2013). The Power of Positive Adult Child Relationships: Connection is the Key. In Ontario’s Ministry of Education, Think, Feel, Act: Lessons from research about young children. (5-10). Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from https://files.ontario.ca/edu-think-feel-act-lessons-from-research-about-young-children-en-2021-01-29.pdf