The foundation of Richmond Jewish Day School’s childcare is heavily reliant on healthy, positive relationships between the children and our educators. A healthy attachment means that the child looks to the adult for guidance and safety through trust. We take it upon ourselves to understand the individual needs of each child and their different personalities, so we can set appropriate boundaries and be a safe space for them to work through their emotions. This helps them learn how to adapt to various real-life situations and creates resiliency. Understanding the developmental needs of a child is the first step in helping them mature. Children have a natural hunger for contact and closeness and cannot move forward until those basic needs are met. Once they feel safe and secure, children begin to actively seek learning opportunities to explore the world around them.
As children are capable, whole human beings, we must trust they will develop and grow at the pace nature intended, without skipping stages or trying to speed up the process. There is a misconception that “attachment” or allowing children to express their emotions is overly permissive. However, research in child development tells us that the opposite is true. We can be authoritative without being authoritarian, and providing a safe space for children to work through their emotions is necessary to lay the foundations for self-regulation, which ultimately prevents more negative behaviour.
RJDS’s educators maintain strong relationships with the families and practice a collaborative strength-based approach that focuses on the meaning of a child’s behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself. Expectations of self-regulation are adjusted to developmentally appropriate levels, and we never use a child’s behaviour as a condition for affection. Children must know they are unconditionally loved, so they can be authentic with their emotions and always be accepted. It’s through this emotionally safe space that children learn resilience and build enough confidence to “spread their wings” and become independent, thoughtful and socially responsible individuals.