Then I had a breakthrough! Can we ever know the BEST PRACTICE in childcare? Through this question a flood of thoughts and ideas came up. This question appeared to me almost as if it were a Koan in Zen Buddhism. While it could be answered both yes or no, I could believe either answer to be true. Then a thought experiment came up. What if we were to imagine there was a list of guidelines(model) that brought out in each child the most authentic version of themselves. What would it look like? To start if we believe each child is perfect, meaning having inherent qualities that do not need to be learned or fixed , then also every child care worker and parent is also perfect! The answer is simple. We are all natural parents and teachers. Yet lifestyle, comfort, and societal norms have pushed us from our natural instincts. We are all evolved to give the best possible chance for our youth and species to thrive! This lead me to think that this set of guidlines might have existed in our ancestors and been lost.
Coming from an Anthropology background I realize this might sound ridiculous to most people. The idea that primitive hunter gatherer people might have raised children in a better way then us. For we all know that life was hard, full of disease, predation, infant mortality and short life expectancy. Believe me I know we have it way better today with our advanced medical knowledge and technology. But what if we have too much information surrounding us daily to just be invested and present? The new ideas that keep coming and coming force us to rethink our instincts, feel pressured to control and fix the world around us and distract us from doing our biggest job to invest in our relationships with children.
Here are some examples studies that show hunter-gatherer communities using childrearing practices that are shown to be superior to our cultural standards. These studies also impart an approach to early childhood development that we have adopted such as Swaddling, sleeping together and longer breastfeeding.
Margret Mead deftly tied norms of infant and childhood experiences to adult patterns of behavior. For her, the foundations of learning were established in infancy through the child's continuous adaptation to movements into which it is guided by the parents who hold it.
Anthropologists maintain that breast feeding has nourished human children since the earliest known humans and must have been advantageous for mothers, infants, and the whole species.
How can we use our instinctual practices in childcare within this individualized society? One way I notice is that we often act in ways that exclude or separate children from our world and the situation at hand. Take the word no for instance. As soon as it leaves our lips we are setting up a wall that divides us and tells the childrem we are not ready to hear their feelings or accept them. I really love this quote from Amy blog Be that We.
"[We have to] reprogram all those brain pathways to go from
FEAR! CONTROL! MAKE IT BETTER! to compassion, love, and acceptance. It's about a belief that we are whole, beautiful humans who are exactly who we should be right now; that when we are open to listening closely and compassionately to those around us, growth is inevitable."
When we bring the child into the conversation, imparting agency in solutions, feelings and expression we can allow each child to be exactly who they are. Letting the choices we make as teachers give impetus to the desire for important growth moments to come naturally.
What then can we do when creating our own guidelines for socializing and keeping children safe? There seems to be only one answer... take the hard path and give up these choices that are only in our own self-interest and revert back to a knowledge that everything is as it should be. Life is designed to survive with all its vast difference and beauty.