PIQUA — It is often easy to get lost in the GPAs, the test scores, and the “how well did Bobby do in math this quarter?” questions.
But have you asked your child or student lately how they are feeling?
“It’s not just how (children) perform academically, but how they feel inside,” said Adele Penrod of Piqua Parents as Teachers before a presentation on “Steps to Support Strength, Security and Self-Control in Children” led by national speaker and author Nefertiti Bruce Poyner.
Poyner, who was also representing the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, came to the Upper Valley Career Center on Wednesday to discuss the theory of resilience — being a child’s way of using their strengths to bounce back from negative or difficult situations — to parents, teachers, and the like.
Poyner said that each child that a parent or teacher interacts with have strengths.
“Our goal as the adults that work with (the children) is to identify those strengths and build upon them,” Poyner said.
While introducing herself to the audience, Poyner told them how to be a great teacher.
“I was a teacher that struggled … I thought I had the skills, but it was hard,” Poyner said to the audience. “To be a great teacher, you need to reach (the child’s) spirit.”
As an icebreaker, Poyner asked questions to the audience to get to know them more. One of the questions was “have you ever saved a life?”
Only a few hands rose.
“Next time, I want you all to raise your hand,” Poyner said, “You’re saving (a child’s) life.”
“Some of our children struggle with resilience,” said Natalee Heath, of the UVCC Early Childhood Education department. “There’s more distraction and children are expected to do so much.”
The program was not just about helping children to bounce back from troubling situations, but learning how to become empathetic and respectful individuals through examples of their adult care takers; in essence, the adult being aware of their own ways of interacting socially and emotionally.
“As parents or teachers, we don’t get the chance to just be with one another too often and sometimes when I’m going through something, another teacher or parent could be going through it too,” Poyner said. “This is a good opportunity to talk about what we can do differently. If we come here and sit for two hours and we leave and do the same thing that was a waste of time.”
One of the activities Poyner had participants do was to list all of the characteristics that they want a child to carry with him or her throughout life in a “Pack Your Suitcase” activity.
“In some of my other trainings, what happens with the suitcase is most of the skills and behaviors that (parents/teachers) want are related to social/emotional development,” Poyner said. “We hear things like ‘we want (children) to have love, happiness, and a sense of security.’”
Poyner stated what she wanted everyone in attendance to take away most from the program.
“The theory of resilience is huge, its practice is rather simple though,” she said. “What you do to help little ones be resilient is actually quite simple and that’s what I hope they take away from tonight; the little simple stuff we can do about it.”
This event was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Upper Valley Career Center, Edison Community College, Council on Rural Services, FCCLA, Greene Street Daycare/Preschool, Piqua Parents as Teachers, and Child Care Choices. The program was completely funded by The Piqua Community Foundation.
Education and child care organizations such as UVCC, Greene Street Daycare, and Parents as Teachers in Miami County have been collaborating for 30 years to provide programs and services to help advocate the overall well-being of children in the county. The ultimate goal is to educate and share information on childcare.
“We collaborate well together and are eager for information,” Penrod said. “We pull our resources together and make it happen.”
“We really care that everyone succeeds,” said Sonia Ewald, volunteer for Child Care Choices. “Everyone is there to support each other here in Miami County.”
“We’re not in competition with each other,” said Debbie Frazier of Greene Street Daycare and Preschool.
Reach reporter Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.