Reverence for the young child is ever present in a LifeWays program. Our home away from home approach not only sets our environment apart from other childcare centers, but nurtures a deep respect in the caregivers that can be paramount to the child’s development. That is not to say other childcare centers do not demonstrate respect for the young child, however, a deeper level of respect is exemplified in a LifeWays setting.
What lives in a LifeWays caregiver is an appreciation of the world around him or her. When I first visited a LifeWays center, I observed the interactions between a caregiver and the children in her care. I was intrigued by the caregiver’s presence and the way she carried herself. The quality of her movements and gestures were ever so slow, present and respectful. Her speech was clear, gentle and soothing, especially with the younger children. A mutual respect was shown by the children in her care, and the power of imitation became more apparent to me as I watched. The environment was calm and peaceful. The hum humming of her voice was soothing to all in the room. It was a wonderful observation and the beginning of my LifeWays journey.
During my LifeWays training I was asked to reflect on the importance of imitation and its influence on the young child. For the most part, it is through imitation that the child learns how to live and develop relationships. I began to understand that the way I care for and nurture the children will be the same way they will nurture and care for each other. The way I communicate with my peers - with respect, good manners and joyfulness - is how a child will communicate with others. How I approach nature and its beauty is how a child will appreciate nature. As we bless our meals and are grateful for our food, thus the young child becomes grateful.
I’m uncomfortable to admit that before the LifeWays training, this important principle was unfamiliar to me. I came from a traditional background and was inspired by an academic view. In my previous work, I was often asked what curriculum I was going to produce for the children in my care and how it complied to the state standards and other requirements that childcare centers need to conform to. Of course, I had faith that in providing an academic environment we were producing high quality care. This is what most folks perceive to be the key to a bright and successful future for the developing child. During the past four years, I have come to change my view on what makes a child successful. Slowly my focus began to change and this has come from a deeper understanding of myself. I have become more open to meditation. It seems that a spiritual aspect began to emerge, for I could see the brilliance of the young child and his or her own ability to grow into a healthy human being.
LifeWays caregivers are advocates for young children. We as caregivers try to preserve the magic of childhood and provide a natural and stress free environment. The child can naturally “play” and emerge from an egocentric being into one who is part of a larger world around him. Self-growth happens naturally when we get out of the way and offer the child a media free, open-ended play environment.
Reverence is something that is not taught to us in textbooks. It develops with the appreciation and respect of all things. In childcare, it begins by allowing a child to interpret the world as she sees it. We at LifeWays do not merely teach children facts; we help to foster many other attributes such as creativity, imagination, curiosity, good will, and gratitude. I am often in awe of your children and the beauty they naturally bring to us.
Blessings to you all!