My intention is to bring joy and wonder to the everyday lives of children and the adults who care for them. As basic as this may sound it can be quite challenging. Now more than ever children are dealing with increasingly mature social issues. Early childhood educators are seeing more and more cases of aggression. How can we impact young children so they belong to a community that not only accepts diversity but celebrates it?
I noticed years ago that young children pay close attention to my songs. After enjoying a couple of #1 Children’s Music hits and touring schools I asked teachers what they needed help with. They consistently replied, “aggression and bullying”.
I started doing my homework and found many disciplinary and legal solutions for older grades, yet statistics show that 70% of bullying goes unreported to adults. Further, much aggressive behavior is too subtle to officially be labeled “bullying.” I also took time to do some “soul searching” and look at what impact aggression had on my own life. The more I looked the more I found times of aggression that had impacted my own capacity to give and receive joy and wonder. Kids do mean things to each other and “hurt people tend to hurt people.” We need not suffer brutal abuse, or repetitive bullying to be affected.
Two insights were clear to me:
Research indicates that the most impact in childhood development happens in the first 2000 days.
The solution needed to speak to young children in their own emotional language. We need to help young children develop a sense of empathy towards each other so they behave responsibly, not because they are afraid of getting in trouble or someone is looking… but because it feels good.
I was fortunate to meet my co-author, Ellen Booth Church. Together she and I developed the IM4U Teaching Program. We are honored to be offering the IM4U Teaching Program and are looking forward to building classroom communities in your area.
- Uncle Jim