When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

The Foundation for Success - Part 1: The Prospective Parent

The Foundation for Success - Part 1: The Prospective Parent

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The Birth2Work newsletters generally offer the opportunity to present broad-based information on topics relevant to our diverse and engaged readers. We present this information to you from "the Birth2Work Team", as perspectives are influenced and shaped in conversation by the lot of us. But there is one exceptional experience that co-founder Elane V. Scott had, in 1979, that changed her life. It put in place the passion for what Birth2Work is today. That experience was the week she spent in Philadelphia, PA at the "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" course at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential.

"That one week at IAHP's "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" course, 35 years ago, made me realize how important my role was as a mother. I learned that the decisions I made to meet the earliest needs of my infant daughter would affect her forever. It became evident to me that being her first teacher was not a romantic notion. Watching the mothers at the IAHP class demonstrate, with their tiny children, how they enjoyed reading, playing violin, or doing brachiation (arm-over-arm swinging), while politely interacting and enjoying each others company was thrilling. No one had told the mothers I was watching that their children were exceptional, at birth. The mothers were from all around the world, all classes of education, and different cultural backgrounds - and all believed their children deserved the best opportunity to learn from the very beginning. For me, outsourcing the decisions about how to raise my daughter was not an option. I learned that setting up a positive learning environment at home was not something I could wait to do when my daughter entered school. My daughter was constantly absorbing every habit of my husband's and mine. I learned that preparing my daughter physically, mentally, and emotionally to be ready to learn once she got to school was something I could start from the first week of life. Birth2Work was created when I needed to move my daughter to the next levels of achievement - school and then life." ~Elane V. Scott

In this B2W newsletter, we are very pleased to present the first person experience of Elane's daughter, Somer, who just spent her own week at the "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" Course in Philadelphia, PA.

Sitting in a frigid lecture hall*, I looked around the room at my fellow seminar attendees. At various points I saw tears of joy running down cheeks, jaws fully dropped in amazement, and more than a few perpetually nodding heads. After 30 plus years of hearing about "The Institutes" from my mom, I was finally able to personally attend the "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" course. The parents, grandparents and teachers surrounding me were learning about the extraordinary capability of children, especially infants, and how they could be directly responsible for joyously cultivating tremendous intelligence within the children in their own lives.

Questions and praise overflowed at every scheduled break time. They simply couldn't believe what they were hearing and witnessing, even though demonstrations of what was possible for tiny children were live and real. My husband's comment to me was "Why isn't this just common sense?" To which I half-jokingly replied, "Because you grew up in the woods, without T.V., the internet and societal pressures warning your parents about the hazards of being alive." So many of the attendees were thrilled to finally have direction about what TO do with their infants - about the possibilities - rather than directives about what not to and what to be afraid of.

In honesty, I cried too. Not because I was necessarily sharing in the "A-ha!" moment of my peers, but because I was gleeful that so many caregivers were finally getting it as to why babies are not meant to stay wrapped up in a blanket, lying on their backs, staring at the ceiling for months on end. I was also deeply saddened that so many were hearing this message for the first time.

Throughout the week, as programs were introduced stressing the importance of putting your child on the floor as soon as possible, I smiled and said, "Yes, I've heard this many times." Eventually, the IAHP reading program was introduced and the iconic picture in our house of my mother holding a big red and white card with the word "Astronaut" printed on it, cooing at my infant sister, hit home.

At almost every demonstration, I was able to say, "I did that!" By the end of the week, during the live demonstration of the music program, I recognized a 1/8th scale violin in the hands of a 5 year old similar to the one my sister and I played as very young children. This particular child was playing Twinkle, Twinkle variations lying down on the floor along with his much older classmates as a demonstration of focus and skill. I recognized my violin but I also recognized my childhood that week, and I was so very grateful that I was not learning about the potential of children for the first time. Rather, I was filling in the details of an outline for an engaged and tremendously enlightening parent-child relationship, one I was very familiar with. Not only that, but I was able to share it with my husband and partner in raising our future children.

In the end, the message we gleaned was about creating a joyous and enthusiastic learning environment for children, not feverishly trying to create a baby genius. I understood that more profoundly after reflecting on why I always loved school and flourished in environments that focused on drawing connections between subjects rather than teaching them in isolation. (That is how the Institutes leaders encourage parents to teach, by drawing connections). Now I know that's exactly what my mother and father did. It set the stage for a lifelong interest in learning.

Recognizing parents as the best teachers a child can have, while also recognizing baby as an intellectual sponge, ready to learn from day one, is really what the program was all about for me. It is a message that I can only hope grabs more parents, grandparents, extended relatives and caregivers of all sorts, quickly and deeply. We and all future generations will be infinitely better for it.

  • The lecture hall where we did our course work was cold because years ago their NASA science advisors, who had been following their work, pointed out that the brain will take in information at a faster rate when it is cold. The temperature inside the helmets of astronauts is 65 degrees.

In society, daily talk about children and education centers almost entirely on schools being the place where children should learn the skills they need in order to emerge as capable members of society. In reality, children only spend about 12% of their time each year in formal educational instruction.

Blaming schools for students' poor preparedness for life's challenges and opportunities is misplaced. It is not a curriculum issue.

The mandatory survival skills of our current and future economy - critical thinking skills, collaborative ability, problem solving, mental agility and adaptability - are skills that develop and mature from infancy. Parents, grandparents, and all those who have children they love in their lives, have the opportunity to support young people from the earliest days, confident that nature has provided us with some very useful, basic instincts. Every child wants to learn more than anything else! They don't need toys and tech devices to flourish, they need a loving Environment, activities and Experiences that help them learn and grow, and Engagement from their parents and other caring adults...what we at B2W call the 3 E's.

In our next newsletter you will read the response of our veteran teacher's experience at the Institutes, Tamie Neu. After 29 years in an elementary classroom, with numerous awards and unparalleled success with helping Title 1 children succeed, she learned what she never knew about the importance of the first 5 years. What a difference it would make.

~Elane, Somer, and the Birth2Work Team

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