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Common Sense Education in Uncommon Times

Debra Lambrecht, Founder, Caulbridge Education | April 23, 2018

In these unprecedented times of change and uncertainty, we cannot begin to know the world our children will inherit. How, then do we trust that we are effectively preparing them?

Sometimes in an effort to accelerate children’s learning, we may inadvertently be doing them a disservice. From the bestselling book, Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D., which examines how screen addiction is hijacking our kids:

“The argument for technology in the earlier grades is often rooted in the fear of children falling behind. It is true that most children will use technology in their jobs and everyday life. It is also true that most children will learn to drive a car,” Debra told me. “Certainly we would not give a 7-year-old child the car keys to give them a jump-start to be a more skillful driver. In the same way, we want to ensure children can effectively use technology as a tool and will bring all of their best thinking, creativity and innovation to bear.”   Debra Lambrecht, Founder, Caulbridge Education

A common sense education begins with the child in mind and asks what is needed for academic, sensory-motor and social-emotional development of the child. This is the basis for learning.

For example:

Children are experiencing more stress and anxiety than previous generations. Teen suicide rates have increased by 30% for boys and 100% for girls in the past ten years, citing anxiety and depression as the leading factor. Positive self-concept serves as a source of resiliency and compassion for self and others in times of increased stress or challenging situations. Caulbridge School intentionally fosters positive self-concept which we define as: the ability to evaluate oneself in positive and self-affirming ways across situations and contexts, even when falling short of one’s expectations or hopes; the ability to demonstrate pro-social behavior, ethical decision-making, and a striving for genuine and caring relationships.

Sensory processing and learning disorders are on the rise, with about one-in-five children experiencing sensory challenges sufficient to disrupt their academic, social and/or emotional development. Since children are physical beings and use all their senses to learn, at the core of the issue is this inability to take in and process information. Time in nature, developmental movement throughout the school day and artistic activities can work to regulate the nervous system and integrate a child’s senses which actively supports learning.

The ability to focus one’s attention is the precursor to thinking and reasoning. An unintended consequence of children growing up in a faster, technology and media centered, digitally connected, more-new-now world is that they have difficulty with focus and shorter attention spans. In response, many schools have shortened the class periods, setting up almost a game-like environment in the classroom, with as many as 5, 6 or 8 transitions in an hour! Any teacher will tell you, what every parent already knows; transitions are the most difficult times for young children. Instead, Caulbridge School works to develop focus and support easeful transitions that build trust and confidence.

Children with under-developed working memory may appear scattered, have poor motor control, and be drawn to sensory seeking behaviors like fidgeting, pushing or rough play. When overloaded, sensory and memory processing goes into survival mode (fight or flight) and children cannot learn. Rather than offering the child incentives, rewards or tricks to help in the moment, it becomes important to build proprioceptive capacity or spatial awareness which develops working memory and leads to effective learning.

In an attempt to meet the growing concern of children who are ill-equipped for learning, the traditional education system responds to individual symptoms presented. Caulbridge School recognizes the more pressing need to build a strong foundation that naturally supports child development and all future learning.