...inspire their best! e-news #50: Shared Understanding: How Learning Happens!

SHARED: mutual, joint, collective, united
UNDERSTANDING: thoughtful, kind, accepting, perceptive, supportive, considerate

Whoever is happy will make others happy too. — Anne Frank

One of the best feelings in the whole world is seeing a child smile from the inside-out when you have had a deep, meaningful connection!

Whether it is sharing a giggle together when you are changing a diaper; sharing a laugh when you have unexpectedly lost your balance, dropped something or been splatted on with water, baby food, or play dough, … or when a child looks to see if you saw their new discovery and you both smile and cheer: Woo Hoo!

These moments when you just “get each other” and share a special connection is something researchers call “shared understanding”.

SHARED UNDERSTANDING is about adults taking the focus off the lesson and just being in the moment. We know that children are wired for learning; they are really good at it! It is us adults that may need to remember and/or re-learn how learning happens and how to share moments together.

I don’t think we understand the importance of the present; there’s nothing more important than what you are doing now. — Harold Clurman

How to Foster Shared Understanding

Have more FUN!

  • TUNE into what children know, what they wonder about; what is meaningful
  • ENGAGE with, observe, and listen to children
  • BE CURIOUS and thoughtful: Ask what brings this child joy?

The How Does Learning Happen? document emphasizes: “positive, responsive relationships with children and valuing children as individuals are the most important influences on a child’s optimum development.”

When we are having fun; being playful, just hanging out and letting the moments unfold with children, we are not only having shared understandings; we are fostering learning!

When people are smiling they are most receptive to almost anything you want to teach them. Allen Funt

Your action for today is to focus on smiling and having more joy throughout the day.

Training: Foundations for Learning

Childlife is has developed a 4-Part training series based on the Four Foundations For Learning from the How Does Learning Happen? document. The focus is to assist ECEs with implementing the four foundations with simple strategies to engage learning in the classroom.


“My team all had a wonderful time learning with you. You have opened up a lot of discussions with the staff, and now I find them being much more self-reflective in their interactions with the children and the programming. We all greatly appreciate your course, and are reaping the benefits of your knowledge and expertise.” — Hannah Qureshi, R.E.C.E, Supervisor Storytime Childcare



Mary Stuart, Director
FACEBOOK: Childlife: Solutions 4Life with Kids!