“Niceness can be a cover for conflict-avoidance, for going along to get along, and pretending to be just fine when we are unhappy, sad, or just plain angry,” observes Holly Elissa Bruno in the book she co-authored with Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Luis Hernandez, and Debra Sullivan, Learning from the Bumps in the Road.  “This phenomenon is what my colleague, Luis-Vincente Reyes, calls ‘the hegemony of niceness’: the command to be nice is so strong that anyone perceived of as not nice is in danger of ostracism…

“For us in ECE, Luis-Vincente Reyes’ words mean that the pressure to be nice is so dominant that if anyone speaks up, speaks out without prettifying her words, especially if she confronts someone, is cruising for a bruising.  ‘Make nice’ means ‘don’t rock the boat.’  Sure, some aspects of making nice are worthy, like being kind, accepting, forgiving, and upbeat.  Those other aspects, like inauthenticity and sugarcoating?  Not so much…

“By demanding niceness over directness, we end up with early childhood settings where conflicts are dealt with indirectly, usually through gossip or backbiting.  Gossip allows us to release our anger and surround ourselves with supporters, while never facing the person who offended us directly.  What are we modeling for our children?

“….What if we modeled for our children the ability to name, address, and work through our differences?  The desire to affirm and nurture often trumps the deeper need for the tough love of confronting misdeeds and injustice.  Niceness frees us from facing the tough things: confrontation is a prickly thing.  We all know that smiling and being nurturing, selfless, and supportive help us fit in.  We also know that confronting and showing anger are tickets to ostracism.  Who would choose the pain?” (From Exchange)

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If you need a short, credible, to the point case for the importance of early childhood education to share with parents, funders,      or other stakeholders, check out “The Science of Early Child Development,” a policy brief from the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University.  This brief shares five concepts that illustrate the importance of our work:

  1. Brains are built over time, from the bottom up.

  2. The interactive influences of genes and experience shape the developing brain.

  3. The brain’s capacity for change decreases with age.

  4. Cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are inextricably intertwined throughout the life course.

  5. Toxic stress dama ges developing brain architecture, which can lead to life-long problems in learning, behavior, and physical mental health.

I especially like to focus on “cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are intertwined throughout the life course”   Think about your observations of young children.  Have you noticed that you can’t have the cognitive without the social? Can you give an example?  Can you make that visible in your room through photos and documentation?

 

“Today, we have a great deal of scientific evidence on the language and literacy development of infants. Much of it reinforces our intuition to engage children through relationships and to impart knowledge through intense interaction. Yet, the evidence also strongly suggests that there is much more we can do as parents and teachers to build stronger language and literacy skills in young children.
There is a science to early language and literacy development. We can better prepare children for later school achievement by taking what we know and making it an intentional and integral part of early childhood education—particularly among at-risk children and families.” From Crib to Classroom

Click on the link to download.  This might be a great conversation starter for professional development.  Your thoughts?

 

 

From Crib to Classroom: Developing Language and Skills for Reading | Invest in US.