What do children need? As I sat down thinking about what ideas to share on this topic, I found myself quickly overwhelmed by the broadness of this question. As a parent, what I perceive as my children*s needs may differ greatly from other parents* perceptions of their children*s needs. However, I think that there are basic things that all children need in order to thrive, and these include nutritious food, adequate shelter, love and affection, adequate sleep, a safe environment, as well as structure and form to their lives, and discipline. For me, the question becomes how can I best meet the needs of all the children entrusted to my care? Children thrive when their lives are well-ordered, with predictable routines and rhythms. They thrive when they are served nutritious meals, are allowed enough sleep and active, free playtime outdoors. At LifeWays we strive everyday to provide these things to the children in our care. Children have a need to feel connected to the adults in their lives. Having consistent, long-term caregivers who they can imitate as they grow is important. When I was in college, I nannied for a family with three children. I was one of several nannies who had lived with them in a short period of time, and it was evident that having so many different caregivers had taken its toll on the children.
Figuring out what children need requires trusting your instincts and having the patience to wait for answers. It*s not always immediately clear what these needs are, because the needs change as the children move from one stage of development to another. There are many opinions from many quarters about what children need. It becomes difficult to sort through all this and find what works best for our own children and the children in our care. Having a clear understanding of child development and knowing what we can reasonably expect from children in all their stages of development can help us to better understand not only the needs, but also how best to serve those needs. The mixed-age concept at LifeWays gives us an opportunity to obverse children at different stages, and this allows us to better meet the needs of the children.
I am grateful to LifeWays parents who trust us with their children. It*s honor to do this work.