“Everybody is always telling you when you are doing something wrong; no one ever tells you when you are doing something good.”
A single dad of two preschool age boys said this while participating in a 10-week video coaching program at Pearl Buck Center’s preschool.
Pearl Buck Preschool is a tuition-free preschool serving children and families where at least one caregiver has learning challenges. The video coaching program, Filming Interactions to Nurture, is for parents and other caregivers of high-risk children. FIND was developed at the Oregon Social Learning Center and the University of Oregon under the direction of Dr. Phil Fisher. FIND has expanded Pearl Buck Preschool’s Specialized Parenting Program.
FIND is a brief, targeted intervention that is based on recent findings about how experiences shape the architecture of the developing brain. Through a relationship between OSLC, UO and Pearl Buck Center, the program has been adapted to be used with parents with learning challenges.
FIND seeks to reinforce and strengthen the naturally occurring supportive interactions seen between young children and the adults in their lives. The program uses a very clear system of feedback utilizing brief video recordings. FIND is a simple and practical approach that emphasizes parents’ strengths and capabilities.
FIND utilizes the concept of “Serve and Return” that was developed at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child. A serve occurs when a child initiates an interaction using words or gestures, or focuses their attention on something or someone. The serve is returned when the caregiver notices and responds.
FIND emphasizes five specific elements of serve and return, with one element introduced in each coaching session: Sharing the Child’s Focus of Attention; Supporting and Encouraging; Naming; Back and Forth Interaction; and Endings and Beginnings.
The FIND coach records a video of the caregiver and child in their home or other natural setting. The film is carefully edited to show brief clips in which the caregiver is engaged in developmentally supportive interactions with the child. At the subsequent coaching sessions, the FIND coach reviews the edited clips in detail with the caregiver. The sessions are repeated five times, for a total of 10 sessions.
Our FIND project is an integral component of the Preschool’s effectiveness. We promote children’s healthy development and safety, and we ensure that the family can maintain a stable home. All families enrolled in our Specialized Preschool Program receive parenting support.
Children enroll in the preschool at age 2. Their parents have learning difficulties. We teach them, in ways they can understand, how to adequately meet their child’s physical and emotional needs, and how to provide the stimulating experiences required for healthy brain development. Home visits offer “teachable moments” when trained staff can address observed concerns and issues with the parent and/or child.
Adding FIND to these services allowed us to take our current strengths-based model a step forward by offering our preschool parents a chance to build their ability to recognize their child’s “serves” and increase their ability to respond to the child in a developmentally support way.
FIND shares Pearl Buck’s assumption that the vast majority of parents have an inherent connection with their child and want to be good parents. FIND’s unique strength is that by using the parents as their own models, parents gain confidence. Seeing themselves using each of the FIND elements increases these behaviors, which starts a self-reinforcing cycle of children who feel seen and heard, and parents who feel the success of connecting with and encouraging their child.
For parents who have usually heard what they are doing wrong, the results are inspiring.
Renee Van Norman, PhD, is the director of the Pearl Buck Preschool. Learn more about Pearl Buck Center.