Marcus Bevier is a self-proclaimed data nerd who enjoys research of all types, but he is specifically interested in Early Childhood data and analysis. Marcus writes about how his work with big numbers influences his home life with daughter, Nadia. He’s a parenting by numbers type of guy, but that might not mean exactly what you think.
Methodical, deliberate, and calculated are all appropriate ways to describe how I work, play and parent. I’m a product of my training in empirical research and data analysis, and I also have an understanding of what works in today’s data rich world. Do you use data to help you navigate the world and your family? Most likely, you do! You just don’t know it yet.
Here’s how I use the data at my fingertips to understand my child, teach my child, and adjust accordingly.
I have always been a consumer and effective user of data. It is my secret weapon to combatting anything life throws my way. Of course, it does not solve all issues, but it does remain a very powerful tool when used correctly. Naturally, I attempt to make use of this when I parent my child.
In some ways, I am always collecting data on her. Whether it be her everyday needs or if she is seeking assistance in mastering a new task, I am collecting information. For example, during late afternoons, if bellering and nonsensical cries for assistance are occurring, both Julia (my wife) and I start our collection process. Then, the information passes through the caverns and crevasses within my cranium, and I’m able to decipher (through analysis) exactly what our child needs. Next, we are able to fulfill that need. We do not always get it right one the first try. Toddlers always insert variables we have not accounted for!
Of course, and sometimes we forget this, children are consumers of data as well. They are constantly processing data points while they are learning how to survive in the world. They seek information to help reach milestones, please parents, and test their own limits. In fact, children use their information effectively through trial and error. Think of a time when you’ve witnessed a toddler attempting a task over and over, like putting pants on. The first five times they might not find the leg hole. The sixth time they end up inserting both legs into the same hole. However, when they get it right, and the lightbulb in their brain illuminates, it’s a time of momentous joy for the parent and the child.
So, all of us are collecting and analyzing soft data on one another, but what is good information and what is bad? This all depends on our collection mechanism. In our household, we preach and teach healthy skepticism with regard to the data using. By asking open ended and pointed questions of our child, we are teaching her to collect further information in order to reach a better outcome. For example, as she looks to fit a square puzzle piece into a triangular slot, we query as to whether she thinks it will fit. In doing so, we are teaching her to collect more information and deepen her analysis.
In turn, what does bad information mean? Bad information, loosely defined, means information that leads to, what researchers would call, spurious conclusions. For toddlers, life is all about trial and error. A good example of this is helping a child to transition from drinking in a sippy cup to a regular glass. The child is collecting information on how to drink that they think is good, but they have not accounted for new factors when attempting the task, such as the size of the opening in the glass. This leads to a poor outcome, a wet shirt and pants. Therefore, we must guide them to collect more data in order to understand the variables the missed. Like sports, it is all about those halftime adjustments.
As parents, we’re constantly using data and observation to understand and help our children. In the end, I want Nadia to be a thoughtful, careful consumer of information. We help her accomplish this by modeling, teaching, and asking the right questions. We know that wherever the future might take her, she’ll put her strong foundation of learning to good use.
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