Letting the Children Be My Guide…

We are pleased to have our new Executive Director, Meredith McMahon, authoring, what we hope will be the first of many, Director’s Blogs.

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Earlier this year I moved into the role of Executive Director at SEEC, which has been both exciting and daunting at the same time!  While I’ve been at SEEC for more than 13 years, this new position brings new responsibilities that often leave me feeling like there aren’t enough hours to get everything done.  I know I’m not alone in feeling rushed and like I never have enough time, but I’m fortunate that one of the very best parts of my job is being surrounded by children. As I think about how to find balance in my days, I’m reminded that these youngest children are pretty great models – there are great lessons in how young children approach their days that can offer help to those of us who find ourselves constantly on the go or rushing to get to the next thing.

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We should all get up and move around!  If you watch a SEEC class engaged in a whole group activity, you’ll likely see children engaged in a book, conversation or discussion of an object, but it’s not a given that they’ll all be sitting. That’s true whether it’s toddlers or kindergartners. We recognize that some children can focus better when they can move around, instead of concentrating on keeping their bodies still.  For me, that’s a reminder that a quick walk (or in my case, a few minutes in a classroom) can clear my head, and it’s time well-spent if it means that I will come back to what I’m doing a little fresher than where I left off.

SEECstories.com (7)We should engage our senses! From their earliest moments, children use their senses to build knowledge and a growing understanding of their world. So much is new for them that they utilize their senses to create meaning in new experiences. I love watching the expressions on the faces of our infants when they feel new textures or experiment with sounds. They remind me that I should take a moment to appreciate the smell of fallen leaves and the crunch of the acorns underfoot. I should take note of the warm sun on a cool fall day, and I should tune into the sounds of music and laughter.

SEECstories.com (13)We should approach problem solving the way young children do, actively and open-mindedly!  Children have a seemingly never-ending stream of questions, and at SEEC we encourage children to ask these questions. Across our classrooms teachers encourage children to wonder out loud – it’s one of the ways we can figure out what we want or need to know, and it allows us to connect our questions.  At times I find myself stumped by a question or an issue, and wondering out loud with colleagues can get us all thinking creatively. I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by talented people who willingly share great ideas. The children remind me that asking together and thinking out loud can yield solutions, whether we’re big or little.

SEECstories.com (11)I could go on and on about ways we can all learn from the youngest around us, but I’ll offer just one last thought on what I can learn from our youngest: what if we all tried to recapture some small sense of wonder?  Young children are fascinated with even the smallest details, and they notice much that we overlook.  They find joy in little, unexpected ways. Imagine if we could match the level of joy a toddler finds in discovering that perfect piece of mulch or a satisfyingly smooth stone.  We can all get easily frustrated by life’s ups and downs, but I find myself trying to keep that joy and wonder in mind in those challenging moments – I just need to find my piece of mulch!

Ask for help when you can’t work it out on your own.