Fueling A Love of Learning

Emily Rubin, director of Communication Crossroads and former director of Marcus Autism Center’s Educational Outreach Program, emphasizes the importance of creating a positive learning environment where social-emotional engagement is the fuel for a child’s learning.

“Children read because they want to hear what someone else has to say. Children write to share their thoughts with other people. Those skills are couched in this concept of strong, positive, healthy relationships,” said Rubin. “While we often think social-emotional development is a result of brain development, it’s actually the other way around. Social connections fuel the child’s brain to grow.”

Rubin dives into the three main phases of development:

  1. Attachment: Falling in love with the social world
  2. Language Development: Seeking out social connections with words
  3. Executive Functioning: Succeeding in a range of social settings

“In Georgia, we refer to kindergarten readiness—when really it’s social-emotional competence, the captivation of the social world, the language skills,” said Rubin. “I want to help teachers define what engagement looks like and how to achieve it. Are children invested in what they’re doing in the classroom, are they initiating with their peers and teachers, and are they independently doing what they’re supposed to be in the environment?”

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