UCCC’s signature understanding is what we call the “inside out” approach: a trend ahead of its time! We have spent the past few years working to define just what “inside out” means. We believe that intentional thoughts, efforts, and understandings enable us to enter the inner world of children.
Recently at UCCC, a group of four and five year olds were planning a parade. The teachers allowed the children to lead the process. After much discussion, the children decided to be a dragon. The teachers demonstrated intentionality through their understanding that four- and five-year-olds commonly struggle with power versus powerlessness. The teachers empowered the children to have a choice in the decision of being a dragon, which in itself is a symbol of power with great mystery. Also children at this age can feel vulnerable to external social pressures of being in a group. The teachers were able to address the children’s needs from the “inside out” and sooth the emotional disequilibrium of feeling powerless.
Children need partners. The scenario on the previous page demonstrates how a teacher can partner with children by understanding and responding to inner developmental needs. Children feel emotionally safe knowing the teacher is in-sync with them. Teachers who can demonstrate the common ground thoughts of an age group are practicing mirroring. This is a strategy that enables a teachers to get into the rhythm of a child without judgement (See “Mirroring Language,” page 1). World-renowned pediatrician Barry Brazelton has demonstrated this reciprocity, the importance of getting in-sync emotionally with the infant, in many of his videos.
Supporting children from the inside out requires a deep level of understanding and commitment from teachers. As we bolster a child’s inner world, it becomes easier to support children’s external world - behavior. Teachers at UCCC must continue to grow as people and professionals in order to demonstrate the trust necessary to teach children from the inside out. At the end of the day, will your child remember that their teacher taught them “A” is for “alligator,” or will they remember that their teacher understood, comforted, nurtured, and believed in them?