When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

The Foundation for Success - Part 2: The Seasoned Educator

The Foundation for Success - Part 2: The Seasoned Educator

Feature Image: 

There has, of late, been an increasing societal awareness regarding the importance of early learning at home. News articles abound regarding the importance of talking with your baby, reading with them every day, keeping them entirely away from tech devices before age 2, and more. And we at Birth2Work support the continuing and furthering of this conversation. Indeed, our company name acknowledges our respect of the earliest days of life (Birth) as the necessary time and place to begin each child down the road of developing the capabilities he/she is passionate about, and finding their place and purpose in life by what they can do (to Work).

As we converse with parents, grandparents, business leaders, and other stakeholders out in the communities we work in, though, there is one unfortunate point that is continually proposed to our Team - that babies aren't able to actually learn, they just grow. And our response to this is simple: babies do nothing but learn. Our support of parents as the earliest and most important teachers a child will ever have is not a call for rigorous academic training of young children. It's a call to parents to introduce the world to their children through real world engagement and in the most joyous way possible.

Fundamentally, this call is rooted in the lessons B2W co-founder Elane V. Scott learned in her 1979 visit to the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, PA. She attended the 2nd ever "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" course, not in an effort to create little Einsteins out of her kids (his parents didn't attend a class to raise him, after all!) She attended the class with enthusiasm and passion for learning how best to create an environment that supported her children's physical development and, hence, cognitive capabilities throughout their lives.

In our last Birth2Work newsletter, we brought you the first person response of Somer Loomis, Elane's youngest daughter, who took the class with her husband a few weeks ago. As a prospective parent, and legacy IAHP child, she was thrilled to be there. In attendance with Somer, was Birth2Work's newest trainer and facilitator, veteran educator Tamie Neu.

Adults aspiring to self-improvement regularly attend human potential courses and seminars, but a course for infants to five years old? As a lauded, distinguished, near 30-year veteran classroom teacher, it might be reasonable to ask what she possibly could learn that she didn't already know about how little children develop. Her touching answer about what she learned will stun you.

"Over the past three decades, I have served as a teacher, mentor, tutor, literacy coach and liaison on more school, training, and community relations committees than I can count. At the same time, I have experienced marriage, motherhood, divorce, financial setback, single parenthood and the care and death of parents and grandparents. Through all of the highs and lows of life, I have cherished most my role as a mother and found solace in the classroom as an educator.

My mother was both a master teacher and a college professor, and there was little doubt in her mind that I should become a teacher and follow in her footsteps. Going into the profession, I never expected to feel such passion for the work, or for the children, every single one of the 29 years I was in the classroom. Along with my own three sons, my hundreds upon hundreds of students inspired me to live and teach with resolve and purpose for their success every day. Failure was never an option!

Classes of students in my Title 1 school entered my teaching domain with test passing rates of less than 30%, but they typically moved on to the next grade with an overall passing rate around 80%. Many students came to me working two or more years below grade level at the beginning of the school year, and still others had already been retained in a prior grade. Each year, as a teacher, I grew more confident and capable, buoyed by my students' continually improving readiness and state test standardized passing rates. What I was able to distinguish over time was the type of targeted instruction best suited to educating these students, and, thus, I was able to help most of them move on to the next grade level.

Together we worked as hard as possible to be successful, but some of my students still struggled greatly. I was constantly evaluating and searching myself to determine what the gaps were in their learning. In the back of my mind there was always the question...what else could I do to help them? That was, until this year.

Two months after leaving the public school classroom I joined the Birth2Work organization as a facilitator-trainer. Right away I was given the opportunity to attend the week-long IAHP course in Philadelphia. As a seasoned teacher, I can assure you I was excited about this learning opportunity. (I am to this day a non-stop, life long learner!) Friend and B2W co-founder, Elane V. Scott, had talked to me 30 years ago about some critical development steps to do with my own twin sons when they were born. She had learned these steps while attending the same IAHP course in 1979. And though we never stopped discussing the concepts she learned there, I could not have anticipated the impact actually going to the course myself would have. I naively thought that the course facilitators would be passing along some new instructional strategies to help children learn. What I learned instead was that it was not the children that needed the strategic help. It was the parents!

I had never ever been exposed to the concept of early child development or human brain development in all of the educational trainings of my career.

In the "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" course, I newly learned or gained context for so much information I already had on the process of learning. Such as:

  • - The brain grows by full and rich sensory use! Smelling, tasting, touching, feeling and listening to all kinds of sounds are so important to learning and remembering facts and data.

    • Highly active movements, such as creeping and crawling, are what drive the development of all the senses that stimulate brain growth in a child's early years.

    • What a child learns first stays with him the longest.

    • My own boys, who had to compensate for dyslexia, might never have had difficulties if I had only known to train their eyes for convergence by more creeping and crawling when they were babies.

    • I learned that motivation and social skills are most easily influenced in the earliest years.

    • True teaching that serves as the foundation for a lifetime should be done joyously and with love and affection beginning from the earliest days of life.

    • Teachers aren't the child's first and best teachers....parents are!

    I am not sure that my words can ever adequately explain the paradigm shift that completing this course has created in my thinking. As a teacher, I had worried for years about the gaps in the learning of the students I had taught. But what I learned was that those students could have excelled if they had first been provided with the support of parents who really understood the capabilities of kids to learn and grow healthy bodies and brains.

    I finally understood how parents could help their children grow and develop from birth to age five and optimize their "human potential". During the course demonstrations, I got to see what children who had been fully developmentally prepared for learning were capable of. At first this perspective was difficult to absorb. It was powerful, yet for the teacher in me very sad that I had not known sooner...if only.

    As a parent myself, I left the class realizing that my own boys could have lived different and even richer lives, if only I had known then the kind of enrichment that the Institutes proposes for every child. I plan to assist my three sons with their own families - so they may provide their kids with all of the opportunities for learning that I didn't know were possible when they were babies.

    At B2W, we call the third phase of life the "Mountain Guide" phase. This is the point where I am in my life. I've had my family and my career. What I am prepared to do now is confidently help others down their path. I am excited and prepared as a Birth2Work facilitator and trainer to teach parents, grandparents, community leaders and others how to optimize the potential of children in their lives for a richer, more successful life than they ever knew was possible.

    I look forward to seeing YOU on the mountain with me!"

    The next B2W newsletter in this series will introduce to you parents who, after taking the course 4 years ago, have applied many of the IAHP techniques with their daughter (now age 2) and are excited about the foundation they've built.

  • Functional Family Guide: