As UMD Preschool and Research Center Turns 75, Director Says to Start by Ditching Your Phone
Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
Tired of battling a toddler about putting on their shoes or struggling to extract the tiniest detail about your preschooler’s day? Communicating with little kids, who are just learning vocabulary and seeking autonomy, is tough—but an early childhood education expert at the University of Maryland suggests it doesn’t have to be.
“The way we communicate with our children plays a huge role in their identity development: ‘Who am I? What am I worth?’” said Jennifer Smallwood-Holmes, director of UMD’s Center for Young Children (CYC), pre-K and kindergarten program in the College of Education. “Even when they’re just pointing as a baby and we respond and acknowledge what they’re doing, these are valuable ways that children learn they are important in the world.”
Encouraging communication is also critical for children’s brain development, one of the many topics that researchers study at the CYC, which also serves as a lab for human development and early childhood investigators, as well as a demonstration site for UMD students studying to become teachers.
As the CYC celebrates its 75th anniversary this fall, including a gathering of current and former students, parents and teachers on Saturday, Smallwood-Holmes draws lessons gleaned over the decades to talk to tots more effectively.
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