Dr Laura Jana, author of The Toddler Brain, was in Launceston

NEW TOOLS: US parenting expert and pediatrician Dr Laura Jana ahead of her appearance at a business lunch hosted by St Giles last week. Picture: Scott Gelston
NEW TOOLS: US parenting expert and pediatrician Dr Laura Jana ahead of her appearance at a business lunch hosted by St Giles last week. Picture: Scott Gelston

It takes a village to raise a child.

But does the business village have a role to play in ensuring the success of the future workforce?

US parenting expert and pediatrician Laura Jana thinks so.

Dr Jana addressed a business lunch hosted by St Giles on April 24 as part of an initiative by the state government’s B4 Early Years Coalition.

The B4 Early Years Coalition brings together individuals, businesses, communities and government to think about what is needed for our youngest community members and drive community action to achieve better outcomes for young children and their families.

Dr Jana, who worked with eminent US pediatrician Benjamin Spock said she had an “aha” moment after meeting Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn.

“I was reading his book, The Startup of You, and I just had his moment, that what I was reading was the same literature that was coming from early education books,” she said.

“I kept seeing this intersect; everyone was swirling around the same ideas.”

The encounter led Dr Jana to write her popular parenting book, The Toddler Brain, which mirrors Hoffman’s book.

Dr Jana said she wrote the book using the same messages as in Hoffman’s book but subbed out the word ‘employee’ for the word ‘baby’.

“What if despite the best of intentions, we are nevertheless are raising our children to succeed in a society that doesn’t exist,” she said.

The business community has a big role to play in ensuring the success of its future workforce because of the changing nature of work due to artificial intelligence.

“It [the Hoffman book] was something that really resonated with me and my style of parenting and I discovered that we were talking about the same toolkit.

“But the toolkit we need is not the one we are assembling.”

Dr Jana said the skills we were teaching our children was still the “industrial revolution” toolkit, which didn’t fit well in today’s society.

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“Then we are wondering why people can’t think outside the box when they are older,” she said.

Dr Jana’s key tenet in The Toddler Brain is the introduction of seven ‘qi’ skills (pronounced key).

The skills – me, we, why, will, wiggle, wobble and what if – help to equip a child with the emotional intelligence, curiosity and resilience that will translate to any future job.

To establish those skills, she says, you need one important ingredient – a caring and responsible adult.

Naturally, people look to parents to provide that role.

However, Dr Jana said other people can fill that role, if the parents are unable to.

“The term I use is the chief engagement officer,” she said.

“When you use that term it elevates what we are doing.”

Dr Jana said a caring and responsible adult who is also a parent could provide the basis and instil those values at a very early age.

“A caring and responsible adult is the single most important factor for a child to develop those neurons in the brain,” she said.

In Tasmania there are 33,600 children aged between birth and four years old.

B4 Early Learning Coalition chairman Elizabeth Daley said having the opportunity to host Dr Jana was invaluable.

We are only just making that link now, between business and early education, so it’s critically important, it affects everyone,” she said.

“We want to make a difference to young people and encourage everyone in the community to know they have a role to play in the development of a child.”

For more information on Dr Jana’s work click here.