It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood at Childcare Resources’ recent professional development workshop featuring Dana Winters, Ph D, Executive Director of the Fred Rogers Institute. More than 150 educators representing forty-four local childcare centers and organizations attended the workshop, funded by Indian River County Children’s Services Advisory Committee and PNC, to explore the simple interactions that build relationships and support child development.
Introduced by Indian River State College Dean of School of Education Debbie Kohuth, Winters drew laughter and tears as she relayed the immense importance of being the person in a child’s life that provides powerful interactions.
“How we build relationships comes down to some simple moments and how they made us feel,” said Winters. “If we think about the relationships where we learn and grow, and the moments that make that possible, it all starts with developmental need.”
An initiative of the Fred Rogers Institute, the Simple Interactions (SI) tool is rooted in the belief that children’s development is dependent on human relationships which, in turn, are built from simple, everyday moments. Used in childcare centers across the country for more than a decade, SI examines four research-based dimensions of positive interactions including connection, reciprocity, inclusion, and the opportunity to grow. The SI Tool enables teachers to examine how they are creating these meaningful interactions and helping support the development of their students.
Winters previously visited the Childcare Resources School earlier in the year and filmed interactions between teachers and students. Using these authentic video clips throughout the day, attendees were asked to observe each interaction through the lens of SI.
“I felt comfortable looking honestly at the areas I can improve but also celebrating where I am already succeeding,” said one local educator. “All of it comes together to allow those relationships to be a foundation for growth.”
Though Winters emphasized the enormous impact of these relationships, she made sure to reiterate the simplicity of the moments themselves.
“We look for these big moments to show, ‘Yes, I did it,’ and we forget all of those moments that show us the profound difference we’ve made.” said Winters. “Slow down and realize that these moments are happening all the time, and realize that they mean so much.”