Praise for Pam Schiller and her books:
“Perfect for new parents learning how to talk and play with babies and toddlers; a must-have for every infant and toddler classroom or caregiver. Perfect for a small group or to use one on one. A great teaching tool; an even better play thing!”
—The Field Guide to Parenting, on The Infant/Toddler Photo Activity Library
“Offers a complete plan for every day of the year, including circle time activities, music & movement activities, suggested books & learning center ideas. The appendix is jammed-packed with songs, recipes and games.”
—Northwest Family, on The Complete Resource Book for Preschoolers
"Very highly recommended compilation of nursery rhymes, songs, [and] games that enhance spatial concepts, fun ways to celebrate the seasons, and more. Showcasing over 2,000 educational ideas and activities which are ideally suited for toddlers aged 12-36 months, The Complete Resource Book for Toddlers and Twos is accessibly organized into daily plans and presented in a straightforward manner.”
—Midwest Book Review, on The Complete Resource Book for Toddlers and Twos
“Language development is the most important factor in a child’s readiness to read. Pam Schiller and Thomas Moore have teamed-up to produce a great music-related resource that will build children’s vocabulary in a fun and appropriate way.”
—Al Rasso ("Mr. Al"), Children's recording artist and Early Childhood Consultant, on Do You Know the Muffin Man?
“This is guaranteed to keep young ones singing and chanting for hours around the house or daycare center. More than 700 selections make this a smorgasbord and a charming value for the money.”
—Parenting, on The Complete Book of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays, and Chants </
Q) In your book Seven Skills for School Success, you discuss the importance of social intelligence and emotional intelligence. What is the difference between social intelligence and emotional intelligence?
A) Emotional intelligence is the understanding of one’s emotions and the ability to control oneself in spite of emotional reactions. The neurological wiring for these skills is most fertile from birth to three.
Social intelligence is the understanding of one’s self in the context of others. It requires recognizing and responding appropriately to social cues. The neurological wiring for these skills is most fertile from age 3 to age 5.
Q) Why is social and emotional intelligence such an important strength for preschool children to develop, even before mastering the alphabet or learning their numbers?
A) Fitting in with peers is one of the primary goals of preschoolers. It means that you have to be in control of your self and understand the nuances of social interactions. Until these skills are perfected, children are not ready to focus on academic instruction.
The research is clear. It is the ability to function well socially and emotionally that allows children to reach their cognitive potential.
Q) You mention curiosity as one of the seven essential skills children need. How can a parent or teacher help a child develop curiosity?
A) Curiosity is a natural condition of being human. We are born curious or we would never reach for the rattle held before us. The question is more about how to keep it alive than how to develop it, although we can certainly nurture it.
Here are a few simple ways to nurture a child’s natural curiosity:
- Set up an environment that causes children to fall and stay in love with the world. Celebrate nature. Insist that children play outdoors. Make use of their overactive senses. Get excited about the little things they get excited about—an ant carrying a leaf, a bug with wings, a leaf, a sunset, the smell of rain. Bring nature inside. Allow a bug to be a temporary pet. Watch the opening of a flower.
- Accept the nontraditional.
- Ask children “what if” questions. What if kids were in charge of parents? What if we had four hands instead of two?
- Stimulate imagination.
Q) There has been extensive brain research related to social and emotional development. What does brain research tell us about these areas in young children?
A) Emerging research defines the foundation of social and emotional intelligence as trust. The first four months of life are crucial to the wiring of trust. The more loving and nurturing a child’s environment during these early months, the more prolific his wiring of mirror neurons (related to empathy) and spindle cells (related to social judgment), and therefore the greater his capacity for emotional and social intelligence.
Q) What impact does stress have on a child’s development?
A) When children are stressed, just as when we are stressed, the body releases high levels of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes adults to have trouble thinking but it is far more harmful to children. It literally destroys brain connections. Children who suffer constant stress will have brains that are 30-35% less developed than their peers. Children need to be taught how to handle their stress. We should not assume that they don’t have stress, nor should we assume they know how to handle their stress.
Q) What can families focus on to help children become ready for school?
A) There are several things, certainly the seven key character traits I discuss in my book, but I am going to challenge parents to focus on just one—being “fully present.” Stop and listen to your children. Take time to talk with them and interact with them. In the hurry-up society in which we attempt to function it is impossible to get everything done. The one thing we must not let fall through the cracks is our children. We are born as fledglings by design of nature. We are not born in litters because in order to develop human beings absolutely must have one-on-one interaction with caring adults.
Q) What suggestions would you offer to teachers that they can implement in their classroom immediately to enhance a child’s development?
A) Again, teachers should focus on the seven key character traits covered in my book. However, I am going to challenge teachers to focus on one thing—standing up for children. Don’t allow them to be robbed of their all important childhood.
Learning to count and learning to read will happen as they should further down the line, but only if children are stable socially and emotionally. Don’t let people push you to academic curriculum at the expense of neglecting experiences that develop the whole child.