Years ago I discovered that it is not always simple to convey content in a meaningful and helpful way:
It was 1977. As director, I was giving a tour of the Bank Street Infant and Family Center to a group of visiting infant/toddler teachers. I showed them the family photographs hung low so children could easily see and touch them. Then explained, “The photos help children feel close to the people they love the most.”
Three weeks later, the visitors invited me to their program. “We learned so much from you. Look,” they said proudly. “Now we have family photos too.”
And they did. Carefully arranged.
Five feet off the floor. At adult-eye level.
"By reflecting the reality of their daily lives my writing gives credence toeducators, family members and leaders."
I've learned that in order to be effective, information needs to connect to the user. By reflecting the reality of daily life, whether in a classroom, community agency or home, my writing gives credence to educators, parents and leaders. In turn, they are receptive to learning and using new information and ideas. They can then build on what works rather than wasting valuable time and energy reinventing a broken wheel.
Strategies that I use to build a bridge between the content and those who may find it most useful include:
- A respectful, inviting tone of conversation
- Putting complex theories and thoughts into easy to read and understand words
(very different from “watering down”)
- Sharing some of my experiences, successes, challenges and questions
- Conveying stories, tips and lessons learned from others in similar settings and situations
- Creating charts, cartoons and stories in a child’s voice to help adults understand a child’s perspective
- Posing reflective questions to help the reader connect content to their experiences
- Practicing targeted exercises teachers may use individually and with colleagues