Ava’s Song 9
There was no going back; it was too powerful. This moment changed my
life and was the beginning of many new presents.
Moments like these develop strong relationships. My willingness to
value Ava as a person by giving her my attention increased her own
self-value. Many great theories and studies discuss how relationships
affect development. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s book The Ecology of Human
Development (1979) emphasizes social and cultural influences on a
child’s development. He states that all relationships and social experi-
ences have an impact on a child’s growth. He breaks up a child’s world
into four systems or circles. The closer the system, the greater the effect
on the child. The closest circle is the microsystem. It is where children
spend most of their time: at home, in school, and in their neighborhood.
This inner circle has the greatest potential to affect a child. You are in
So what present do you want to give the children in your class? In a
teacher’s day there is so much to do. Every day, researchers bless us with
one more thing to add to that list to make the perfect, high-quality early
learning environment. But what can you do today to give the children
the gift of being present—aware of them and their needs? If you watch,
they will show you.
Keep a Vow to Be Present and Available
1. Purposefully listen to children. Check your eye contact.
2. Make yourself available by walking around the room until chil-
dren speak with you first. If you are busy, they may not feel they
3. Tell children, “I am here if you need me.” We sometimes just
assume they know this, but they often don’t. It is comforting for
them to hear it, and saying it reminds us to do it.
LfCtxfinal.indd 9 12/19/08 11:34:09 AM