To help build a better future, start by simply bonding with a child. Why? This video from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child addresses basic concepts of early childhood development—particularly from birth to five years—as a foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.

Drawing from decades of neuroscience and behavioral research, Harvard’s Jack P. Schonkoff, M.D., demonstrates how building healthy relationships with children helps lay the groundwork for future success in school, and later in the workplace and community.

We agree. The Kaleidoscope Project is providing guidance to Wake County places and spaces for building healthy relationships. The benefits of positive relationship building are clear. Read on for a few of our best practices to help parents and caregivers create healthy, warm, and trusting relationships:

  • Take advantage of activities where children can work and play together, learn to solve conflicts productively, and participate in group activities. Play-pretend, cooking, gardening and playing in the sandbox encourage sharing, turn-taking and problem-solving skills.
  • Activities using loose parts for play help children to engage. “Loose parts” are materials that children can move, carry, combine, redesign, and take apart and put back together in many different ways. Recycled bottle tops in colored cupcake liners, marbles in ice-cube trays, and pom-poms, glass beads, and tongs in plastic glasses are an invitation for creative and relationship-building play (just be aware of choking hazards!).
  • Use toys and activities that give children and caregivers choices in how to engage with a play space (think block stations, slides that can also be climbers, or a water table that doubles as a sensory box). Toys with multiple functions encourage creative play, critical thinking, and parent/child engagement.

According to the Harvard video (and in our research as well), a child’s emotional well-being and social competence is key for future successes in life. By laying a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities through healthy relationship building, we are helping to shape better members of society for generations to come.