Interactions between adults and children are at
the heart of every classroom, youth program, and child center. Not only can
positive interactions help these organizations run more smoothly, they can
create lasting bonds that make a difference in the lives of young people. The
goal of the Simple Interactions (SI) approach is to support staff in developing
skills that encourage more productive interactions with children and youth.
research focuses on four essential ingredients present in the most productive
Adults and youth communicating with one
another in a positive way
A balance of give and take
Providing challenges and giving appropriate
Inviting and involving all children, especially
those who may be least likely or able to participate
Using inexpensive video cameras, short clips
are captured of staff engaged in positive
developmental interactions with children.
The clips are then shared in the context of short workshops that
emphasize the four essential elements. These clips become conversation starters
for discussing effective interaction strategies. The key is to focus on
positive interactions and to discuss what works in these instances and why. By
its very nature, SI training is unique to each site.
The video clips
should be short—1 to 3 minutes in length. The key is to capture the “triangle”
of interaction—the adult, the child(ren), and the activity they are doing
together. Remember to focus on the positive.
When discussing the
clips, the adult who were recorded should speak first. They should talk about
what went well in this particular interaction from their perspective. The
discussion is then opened to the rest of the staff.
Goals should evolve
over the course of the three workshops:
n The first session focuses on fun clips to
allow staff to feel comfortable with being recorded and watching themselves.
n The second workshop allows for deeper
analysis as staff discuss positive
interactions and set goals for themselves.
n The final workshop features recordings of
each staffer working toward the goal(s) they set in the second session.
The long-term goal of SI is
to empower teachers,
afterschool staff, childcare workers, and anyone working with children and
youth to continue this professional development strategy on an ongoing basis.