Writers and photographers who travel make observations and take what they see to others. They are “noticers” and “see-ers,” as well as “share-ers,” extraordinaire! By way of their written or spoken stories or their photos, these amazing observers share their experiences with those who have not had the same experiences or with those who have not travelled to the same place to see what they have seen and know what they have come to know. When travel writers and photographers tell us about new people, places and things, our lives become richer because our thinking expands. They show us new ways to think about the world around us.
Parents and caregivers are the travel writers and photographers for the under 3 set. Babies and toddlers have not seen and have not experienced the world that parents and caregivers know about, so parents and caregivers must take what they notice and see and share it with children in order for the brain development for school readiness to happen. When parents and caregivers observe or notice what is around them and share it with the babies and toddlers in their lives by way of pictures, objects and stories, the grown-ups build necessary brain connections in children that support expanded thinking about the world in which the children live. Then, when these children arrive to preschool to begin learning to read, count, and think in more advanced ways, they have the background knowledge about the world around them that is necessary to succeed in a 21st century classroom.
So how can parents and caregivers accomplish what travel writers and photographers do? First, take the time. Observing the world and sharing what we see, hear, feel, touch, taste and smell with babies and toddlers by showing them what we have observed or talking to them about is time-consuming. But the more time that is spent, the better prepared a child will be for school. That said, it doesn’t need to take much or all of one’s time. Observing for 30 seconds 10 times a day only adds up to 30 minutes out of each busy day. Short, but frequent observations and “sharings” work well for babies and toddlers due to their short attention spans. Rather than observing and sharing observations with babies and toddlers once a week for 60 minutes or twice a day for 15 minutes at a time, parents and caregivers can observe/share once or twice every hour for 10 or so seconds with observations/sharings such as “Hey, do you see that red bird?” or “Mmmm, this ice cream is sweet and with crunchy nuts.” Parents and caregivers can write down or take a photo of what is observed in order to share experiences with other parents/caregivers or with the child later on in his/her development.
So parents and caregivers, get out there and “observe, observe, observe” and then “share, share, share” with the babies and toddlers in your lives, just like travel writers and photographers do!