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Welcome to our first ever Ask the Expert special feature! This month, we chatted with Kelly Young (below, left) and Robin Larson (below, right) about the statewide "Take a Minute" campaign, and the importance of social-emotional development. Both Kelly and Robin are highly involved in the Early Start community - Kelly is the parent of a child who received Early Start services, as well as the Executive Director of the WarmLine Family Resource Center, and Robin is the Intake Supervisor at Far Northern Regional Center. Take a look at what they had to say below!
Why is taking a minute for social-emotional development so important?
Robin: Social-emotional development is the foundation for all other development. Children develop naturally by making early attachments to their parents or caregivers and observing and imitating their behavior. If there is some interruption in this natural connection, children have more difficulty maximizing their personal potential for growth and development. Relationships are of central importance of ongoing development and well-being.
Kelly: Social-emotional development is the foundation for all development and is a critical determiner of success in school and life. For babies and toddlers, play is their “work.” It is through play and repetition that babies and toddlers try out and master new skills. Playtime is special. Playing together with your child is not only fun, but also a critical time to support your baby or toddler’s healthy development. Making time to play with your child each day is not always easy. However, setting aside a brief period every day to play together goes a long way in building a loving relationship between you and your child. Making time for play can also help in reducing your child’s challenging behavior.
How did the "Take a Minute" campaign begin?
Robin: The State Systematic Improvement Plan (SSIP) Task Force has been working together for the past couple of years. Kelly and I participated on that Task Force and were a part of a team that was given the assignment to improve provider and parent education regarding the importance of social-emotional development. We knew that parents and professionals are all very busy. We wanted to find a way to get people to understand how important social emotional development really is in a short amount of time.
Kelly: We realized that we needed a simple message that would make a big impact on improving social emotional competence. The research shows that most parents are unaware of the importance of these skills and do not know how to support these skills. We also realized that professionals have limited time to educate families.
Robin: We started talking about how parents connect with their children and realized that it doesn’t take a lot of time to connect and reconnect with our children. We talked about things like hug your child, nursery rhymes, put down the cell phone and play with your child – these things only take a minute, yet are so very valuable to our children’s development. We also then realized that it only takes a minute for professionals to remember to empower parents to be their children’s best teacher. From there it has blossomed into an exciting campaign. I am convinced that if parents and professionals all simply remember to “Take a Minute” to understand the importance of social-emotional development and put that understanding into action in everyday routine activities with our children, we cannot help but improve not just social-emotional development, but all areas of development in the children we serve in Early Start.
What is the purpose? Who is the intended audience?
Kelly: The purpose of the campaign is to deliver the simple message of connecting with your child for a minute throughout the day, play, sing, read, and talk. It only takes a minute to have a profound impact on your child's development.
Robin: In addition, it is the bottom line purpose and intent of the SSIP, which is to improve social and emotional outcomes of the children we serve. The audience is parents, providers, service coordinators and community members who touch the lives of 0-3 year olds.
Kelly: It's a powerful message to take a minute to impact a child's future by connecting with them, tuning into their feelings, helping them understand their emotions, and showing them they are loved.
What's an example of how a parent can use these? Or a service coordinator?
Robin: The “Take a Minute – Relationships Matter!” flyer and video can be used to educate parents on the definition of social-emotional development and provides ideas and tips that personalize the experience to fit what they are experiencing with their own child. It further offers a reminder that parenting is not always easy so that parents recognize they are not alone and that their Early Start team is here to help guide them and give concrete suggestions so they can help their children progress developmentally.
Kelly: It's a helpful tool for service coordinators to review the “Take a Minute” materials with parents frequently to remind them of the impact of their interaction with their child. It only takes a minute to remind parents that they are the most important person in their child's life. The service coordinator and providers support the parents to understand their child's unique developmental needs.
Robin: By being introduced to the “Take a Minute” campaign in its entirety, service coordinators are better equipped to assist parents in understanding social-emotional development and its importance. They understand that by including social and emotional outcomes in the IFSP, providers and families will focus on social-emotional development thus laying a solid foundation for overall improvement.
"Ask the Expert" is one of our NEW monthly special features, appearing on the Neighborhood Blog each third Wednesday of the month. Next month's special feature is "What's Working," where we'll be asking YOU to chime in with strategies that have worked for you on the chosen topic. To be notified each time there is a new post, visit the Blog home page and scroll all the way to the bottom, and click "Follow".