As the Chief Learning Officer of a school, sometimes students end up in my office after making terrible choices in class.  It’s not my favourite part of the job, yet I am grateful to support both the child, family, teacher, and classroom in those moments.

Gather a Child

Last year, I had one such experience with a younger student.  It stands out to me because of what the mother did when she arrived. It was unusual and incredible!

When she came into my office mid-day, she didn’t reprimand her child or sit with a stiff upper lip, trying to get the story. She didn’t even start with the story.

She simply sat down and gathered her child into her lap and held him in a gigantic gesture of generosity. Right then, the child became central, the choices and consequences second.  The mother brought comfort and calm, before addressing the chaos.

I want to remember that model. I want to practice it pro-actively. I don’t want to wait until my child or student is unraveling to gather and give.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Photo by Karine Veldhoen

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Connect with a Child

Don’t wait.

Children need us now.

My arms of parenthood and teacherdom are stretched out to the children this week.  I want to cradle their potential and calm their chaos.

Connection is the energy of confidence for a child.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Children all need to learn how to separate effectively, learn the object permanence of ‘I’m coming back’, and learn how to manage the school schedule.

School is a joyful place! We can share that story with them. And, as we continue to provide the secure base of attachment, children will learn, reach, explore, and light up!

But, like you, I’m stretched for time and energy, so how can we connect with our children?

Here are 20 mom-tested, creative ideas for connecting in meaningful ways with your child in 20 minutes or less. Even those of us with 3+ children can manage 20min fairly regularly.

Teachers, you know the ones who will need more of you this year. Reach out to them now, with a gesture of generosity and connection. A recess date now may save tons of time and energy later. I’m going to join you and intentionally connect with my children and some students this week!

Gestures of Generosity

20 Ways to Connect with a Child in less than 20min:

  1. Go on a walk and don’t talk until they do, just be present.
  2. Build an ice cream sundae together – two spoons and one bowl.
  3. Hold hands and give thanks for three gifts of the day.
  4. Sketch next to each other and then share your sketches.
  5. Plant a flower, pick fruit, rake leaves, or build a snowman.
  6. Mix up a batch of muffins.
  7. Throw a Frisbee.
  8. Download a new favourite song and dance in the kitchen.
  9. Write a letter or make a card for someone special. Send it.
  10. Pick up trash on your local playground.
  11. Make a calendar of special events for the month.
  12. Have a family meeting to strategize about a problem you can solve together.
  13. Paint a ‘We Can Do Hard Things’ sign together.
  14. Pick and press flowers in a big book.
  15. Build something out of cardboard boxes.
  16. Do a YouTube workout together.
  17. Listen to a meditation.
  18. Make up a story together (i.e. take turns saying a sentence each).
  19. Clean out a drawer in your classroom, dresser, or the kitchen.
  20. Make a puppet out of homemade materials and invite story-telling.

A 20min kid-date in your home, backyard, classroom, or neighbourhood gives any child the gift of confidence. It doesn’t need an agenda or a purpose, it can just be playful.

How can you be gather and give generously this week? What three ideas resonate with you?  What ideas do you have for connecting with your child in 20min or less?

Let’s share our ideas or experiences with #kidconnect this week.

For the sake of the children,


P.S. We are welcoming new families to our Learn Forward community!  Please like and share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.