Dr. Jean Clinton Makes Connections While in Ottawa

On October 3rd, Andrew Fleck Child Care Services along with community partners hosted an event with Dr. Jean Clinton. Dr. Clinton is an Associate Clinical Professor at McMaster University and author of many papers on early childhood development. In her inspiring presentation, Dr._Clinton explored the benefits of positive adult-child relationships, focusing on the importance of connections in a child’s education and development. Along with the growing research on the benefits of play-based learning and mindfulness, Dr. Clinton presented the benefits of an educator’s emotional connection with each child.

Dr. Clinton discussed the role of relationships in child development starting from birth. The first relationships which are typically between a mother and her baby create the internal representation of how children expect others to treat them. The level of attachment will affect a child’s relationships, academics, self-regulation and resilience. Experiences, connections and stressors change how babies and children respond to the world. Dr. Clinton emphasized that it is our responsibility as a community to support the positive attachments of mothers and babies. This relationship will virtually affect all other aspects of their development.

Children learn best in environments that focus on both their cognitive and emotional development. Research on learning has largely been focused on how children learn, and is yet to consider emotions and how they affect learning. A child’s world is one of connecting with many different people as they learn best in environments that focus on relationships. Dr. Clinton asked educators to be mindful of how different policies/practices will affect their relationship with a child; more connections means less time correcting. Emotions and feelings play an important and indispensable part in learning as care and teaching are inseparable.

Dr. Clinton passionately believes that if all the important people in a child’s life understand the importance of relationships and attachment and how it greatly affects brain development, we would change our philosophy of connecting.

For further information on ways to build connections, please follow the link to her article The Power of Positive Adult Child Relationships: Connection is the Key and videos that focuses on positive relationships and brain development.

Suzanne Roy-Spencer, RECE, BA, B. Ed, OCT
Resource Consultant
Children’s Integration Support Services