BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
As headlines multiply telling of current parental stress and wide-ranging quick fixes on how to abate it, we turned to the experts for long-term solutions. Our Classic Chicago Columnist Mary Ellen Christy and her business partner Claudia Rozenberg this month launch Christy Rozenberg Consultants, a concierge educational service specializing in work with the whole family. They have spent the past year studying family stress and so much more in developing their business plan.
Collectively Christy and Rozenberg have 55 years in the field of early childhood education as teachers, administrators, and parents. They say that working successfully with staff, students and their families has given them a great sense of accomplishment in navigating the complicated situations that so often occur when raising children.
Rozenberg told us:
“Our goal is to support parents who are facing academic or developmental matters with their children by helping navigate the many different systems in Chicago. Our target market is birth through school-aged children.”
Our experts answered these questions:
CC: What frightens parents the most and what are steps to overcome this?
Christy: Parents need to look one step at a time and not live in crisis mode. With assistance, we want to dissect the concern and determine the best course of action including outside resources and coordination with the school to move forward with potential adjustments or interventions.”
CC: What messages do you each want to convey to parents of young children?
Christy: “The importance of positivity. There is no one path that is the right one. Kahil Gibran, in his poem entitled On Children, told parents: ‘You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth’. All children will find their own trajectory, our role as parents is to support them in that process.”
CC: What are the most crucial challenges facing parents today?
Rozenberg: “Life is becoming increasing more complicated for adults and children. The stress of current demands, as well as the rise of technology and mass communication, are resulting in increased anxiety. Time has become the ultimate luxury. The loss of privacy and time for leisure have impacted the way children and families live day to day and has caused people to lose perspective when the slightest problems demand immediate answers. We hope to provide guidance that will alleviate these stresses for the whole family.”
Christy: “We value and support the role of parents in the process. We believe that ultimately, the greatest influencer in a child’s life is the parent. Parenting is the most difficult and important task faced by every adult and in a world that values expertise, it is the one for which there is no formal training. We parent with nothing except the toolbox we experienced with our parents.”
CC: What about friendships in early childhood?
Rozenberg: “Friendships at any time of life can make a tremendous difference in anybody’s sense of well being. The positive role a friendship can play in a child’s early years has been proven to influence their physical and mental development. One of the most important tasks a child must master is the ability to socialize with peers.
“In society today, schools are becoming more and more academic. Without time to play, a child’s true work, they are given less time to nurture their social-emotional development. It is during this time that friendships are formed, children develop strong bonds, experience conflict and learn to repair the bonds. These experiences as a young child teach children how to interact with others and how to succeed as adults.”
CC: Sometimes it’s hard for parents to open up to their peers because they fear that their child doesn’t keep up with their peers. How do parents address that?
Christy: “Privacy is important to everyone, including children. School and play are the “work life “ of children. People have often regarded education as a period of preparation for the real world of adulthood. Education is the real life experience of a child. When things are not going well in school or with friends, a child experiences the same sorrows, fears, and anxieties that an adult experiences when facing difficulties in their lives.”
CC: How can a caring and experienced consultant help?
Rozenberg: “We want to help parents see how they can help and support their child. A professional can give an expert filter to the information that is being shared and guide a family toward practical solutions. We want to help parents navigate what services are out there and how best to access them and use them to their advantage.”
CC: Do you have stories of personal experiences that relate to your success in the field?
Christy: “Perhaps the most practical personal experience we have had is raising our own children. There is nothing that will give you a quicker reality check than trying to apply all of your training as an educator to dealing with a tantrum-prone two year old who happens to be living with you 24/7.”
Rozenberg: “Our collective experience of 55 years working with children and families has shown us that we have never found a child that has not reached his ultimate stride. Sometimes the puzzle takes longer for some but with the right help and support, a child will always manage to become who he or she was intended to be.”
Both Mary Ellen and Claudia have children of their own and, therefore, understand the strong emotional connection between parents and children and the inherent desire for parents to provide the best possible educational situations for their children. They say they are very excited to be able to help facilitate this process for families.
“Our service strives to alleviate the pressure and anxiety which accompanies the need to resolve developmental concerns, academic concerns, and placement. We believe that all children have a right to a good education and we see as our role to facilitate their access to it. Not all children learn in the same way and we will assist in matching children with appropriate interventions and therapies. We hope to become a bridge between families and schools. Our goal is to work with families and children, teachers in and out of the classroom, offer staff development, parent education programs and address gatherings of other interested parties.”
Mary Ellen believes that:
“When children encounter academic difficulty, we hope to help families comprehend that learning difficulties do not always represent a long-term challenge. The development of all human beings is a process and we will guide families through the shoals of determining their individual process.
“Because of the pressure of today’s lifestyle, to minimize stress on the family, we are a concierge service that is happy to meet with you in your home should you prefer.”
To learn more, visit: ChristyRozenbergConsultants.com