Boyd Mark, Director of Telehealth to Speak at the Southern Early Childhood Association | February 28-March 2, 2019

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Recent attention to the brain research of the past 30 years has called attention to the unique opportunities and critical responsibilities for the care and education of young children. However, over-emphasis on “brain stimulation” per se has led to misguided interventions that fail to take into account the central importance of human interaction in the developing brain. Research on emotional development (Brazelton, Emde, Linnert, Stern, Tronick, Weinberg, and others) demonstrates the early opportunities for learning in human interaction, as well as the emotional basis for learning from the beginning of life. State regulation, sensory threshold, face-to-face interactions and the model of mutual regulation, social referencing, symbolic thinking, and theory of mind are among the concepts that organize our current understanding of the role of human interaction in early emotional development, and, in turn, of early emotional development as the underpinning for social and cognitive development. These basic processes evolve and continue to be central to the process of engaging in relationships throughout life.

From the beginning of life, parents and professional caregivers can support the efforts of infants and young children to master the challenges of self-regulation, sensory processing, and social interaction – understanding themselves and others. These most basic building blocks for successful learning can only be constructed in the context of children’s relationships, not only in early childhood but through adulthood as well. As a result, our most important gift to them is our humanity, but the emotional availability we need to convey this comes at a personal cost – a contribution that too often goes unrecognized by the rest of the adult world even though a thriving child is the reward.

Teaching Methods: Lecture and discussion

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the development of the normal range of emotional expressions in infants and young children.
  • Understand how different factors affect the child’s social-emotional development.
  • Understand the role of relationships and moment to moment interactions in early development.