During our most recent Primary Project training, our trainer for the day, Lynn Smith, spread out a vast array of pictures. She asked us to pick out one that spoke to us as a descriptor for Primary Project. Everyone chose differently, we saw visual meaning in different ways, yet all were thoughtful, expressive, and hopeful. It was a wonderful experience to hear how the pictures evoked feelings of pride, optimism, and challenge.
The activity gave us a chance to reflect on our own perception, to consider the deep connections to our practice and to the program. It also made way for discussions on how best to embrace the research and our delivery in the true spirit of the program.
As the day continued, filled with opportunities to practice our mindful reflections, I realized how truly meaningful is the opportunity to spend time training and reconnecting. Truthfully, as with all programs, tasks, and vocations, regardless of how long we practice, we can always find ways to develop. Regular, ongoing professional development, especially in group work with other child associates, program supervisors and Children’s Institute experts, emphasizes best practices in the art of reflecting and administering the child centered approach. It affords time for mindful consideration of how the services are delivered and to strengthen our skills. Every professional development offering provides the promise of returning to school fortified with a list of ideas and suggestions on how to approach improvement as well as an overall gratifying pride for our program’s strengths. Reflecting on those key points is always powerful.
A likeness of my chosen picture is prominently posted as a daily reflection on my practice [most days], of being present, of having unconditional acceptance of each student, and applying what I have learned. It is a regular reminder to strive for active awareness in my relationships with both children and peers. It spills out into the world of my life as well.
Through those reflections, my thoughts move to gratitude. I am thankful that this unique, wonderful program exists, that my school has embraced it fully, and that we have been given the opportunity for reflection and to enhance our practice through regular professional development. One never knows what will be powerful and when the reflections will be most meaningful. I am filled with hopeful optimism.
-Lynne Carnemolla, Child Associate
Tolland Public Schools
Bringing the lessons home - We are the drivers...
On my way to work one morning, I was struck by a billboard that read “what kind of driver are you raising?” The picture was a parent or caregiver in the driver’s seat of a vehicle distracted by their cell phone while young children in the back seat watched attentively. During those last few minutes of my commute into work, many thoughts came to mind, but the most significant was that as parents or caregivers we have the most control over our own actions. We are often presented with opportunities to model the behavior we want to see in our children. We are the drivers, so to speak!
Life presents us with “everyday scenarios” to be our best selves as parents. Our children pay close attention to the way that we handle these moments. Being kind, displaying good manners, showing empathy to others, handling stressful situations, problem solving, and practicing patience are just a handful. Children learn these skills by watching the adults in their lives and build their own ways of responding when similar situations come their way.
A few years ago during a meeting with parents of a child that participated in Primary Project, the parents shared “parenting is the hardest job any one of us will have! There is no instruction manual that comes along with a child – we do our best and we will likely make mistakes along the way!” Making mistakes is inevitable, but what is most important is the acknowledgement of making a mistake. Saying to children, “I am sorry” or “I didn’t get it right” teaches that we are human and we will have another chance at it!
Parenting is hard work and when we do hard work we need to take care of ourselves. On airplanes we are told that if in the event of an emergency and there is a loss in cabin pressure, to secure our own oxygen masks before helping small children or others around us. The same holds true for parenting. When we feel winded, we have to inflate ourselves so that we can be present. Take the time to do the things that you enjoy, so that you can recharge and continue to demonstrate to your children what you hope they will see in themselves in the future.
-Lynn Smith, LMSW, Co-Director of Primary Project
Upcoming training opportunities
Visit our website for a range of training and professional development opportunities to meet your needs.
Children's Institute welcomes executive director Ann Marie White, Ed.D.
We are pleased to announce that Ann Marie White, Ed.D. has been named executive director of Children's Institute. Ann Marie is currently serving and will continue as Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She is succeeding A. Dirk Hightower, Ph.D., who has held this post for 27 years and will be transitioning to a role as senior researcher within Children’s Institute.
Children’s Institute is pleased to introduce a new, short-form, version of the Teacher-Child Rating Scale (TCRS)!
The Teacher-Child Rating Scale-Short Form (TCRS-SF) consists of 16 items – a reduction from the prior version’s 32 items. The same four constructs are still assessed by the TCRS-SF: Behavior Control, Frustration Tolerance, Assertive Social Skills, and Peer Social Skills. Norm based percentiles are also very similar with ‘at risk’ children falling below the 30th percentile.
In addition to the 16 items used in scoring, the TCRS-SF contains six experimental items under consideration for possible inclusion in a future version of the instrument. These items do not affect scoring, but will be used to develop a version of the TCRS which will align more closely with CASEL’s social-emotional learning core competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social-Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. The additional items are necessary, along with further analyses, to develop the next generation of the TCRS.
This year all Primary Project schools that use COMET will utilize the TCRS-SF for screening and program outcomes. If you prefer not to use the newer version, or have questions, please contact gcone [at] childrensinstitute.net (Geri Cone) by September 20th.