School Climate & Safety

Nurturing Young Children After Sept. 11

By Linda Jacobson — September 11, 2002 2 min read
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A year after last Sept. 11’s terrorist attacks, lessons are still being learned about how parents helped their children cope with the immediate tragedies and the stress that followed the events, a book from the Carnegie Corporation of New York says.

Reassuring young children that they are safe, maintaining a normal routine, and reading together are all activities that help to build children’s resilience, according What Kids Need: Today’s Best Ideas for Nurturing, Teaching, and Protecting Young Children.

That same advice can be called on during other times of family trauma, says Rima Shore, the author of the book. An expert on child development, she has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and other organizations.

“There’s been concern about kids’ immediate reaction to the events, but there have also been new questions about emotional resilience and social competence and how we can help kids develop them,” Ms. Shore said during a recent press conference held to discuss the new book.

She added that social and emotional development also play a large part in giving children the motivation to learn.

Reading to children, talking to children, and familiarizing them with letters and letter sounds “won’t make any difference if kids take no pleasure in learning,” Ms. Shore said. “So motivation is key, and it’s much tougher to instill motivation than it is to teach skills.”

What Kids Need, published by Beacon Press in Boston, brings together key research findings and reviews the progress that states and communities have made in improving services for young children since the Carnegie Corporation, a New York City-based philanthropy, released its “Starting Points” report in 1994.

That report sparked greater attention among policymakers to issues of early childhood-development and to the effects of early experiences on babies’ brains.

Helping Parents

The book highlights new efforts over the past decade to help parents become better caregivers and to improve the quality of health care, child care, and preschool services for children. It provides examples such the Center for Fathers, Families, and Workforce Development, an effort in Baltimore to help noncustodial fathers become more emotionally and financially responsible for their children. Also mentioned are the Starting Points centers in West Virginia, which provide a range of resources to families with young children.

What Kids Need also focuses on the challenges that remain, including the achievement gap between children of different racial and economic backgrounds that experts say exists even before youngsters enter school.

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