A Brain Insights Resource Recommendation: Teaching the 3 C's

Teaching the 3 C’s: Creativity, Curiosity, and Courtesy    

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul."-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Have you ever questioned if creativity, curiosity, and courtesy is essential to the optimal development of children?
Have you ever wondered if the emphasis on the, “Three R’s” is enough for a child’s success and well-being in life?

This is the first book I was asked to contribute to. There is only a brief statement included from me, but it is an extreme pleasure to have at least a tiny part in this really wonderful book.

Reviews on the back of the book reflect similar views on how great this book is:

“A greatly needed book at a time when creativity, curiosity, and problem solving are moving over to make room for high-pressure academics. This resource is loaded with good ideas for activities. The author’s creativity shows!”  - Jane Gonzalez – Consultant and Early Childhood Specialist

“Patricia Dischler’s hands-on experiences and love of early learning radiate throughout Teaching the 3 C’s. As a defender of childhood, I am most impressed by the way she promotes play, exploration, and discovery in simple and engaging ways. Put down the video games, turn off the TV, and pick up this book.” -Jeff A. Johnson, Owner Explorations Early Learning LLC



Teaching the 3 C's: Creativity, Curiosity, and Courtesy

Activities that Build a Foundation for Success

By Patricia A. Dischler  © 2010

 (click photo) 


Pat and I worked together on an early childhood education advocacy committee in Madison, Wisconsin. Through this committee work, I became familiar with her passion and dedication to making an impact in the lives of young children. Since that time, I had the wonderful opportunity to again work with her, when I was invited to present at the National Association of Family Childcare conference in San Diego, when she served as a very beloved president of the organization. 


 A Brief Section of the Introduction from Patricia Dischler:

“In the world of early childhood, there has been an increase in the pressure to teach the traditional three Rs: Reading, “Riting, and “Rithmatic. What was once the curriculum for first grade has become the standard for kindergarten classrooms, and what was once a kindergarten lesion is expected at the preschool level. Parents feel they should expect more, and research shows kids are capable of more, so standards get tighter, and the pressure is on for early childhood teachers and parents to deliver. The unfortunate result of this has been early childhood programs and parents that focus on getting the academic results but leave behind the basics for all learning. It is no surprise, then, that many programs are struggling and that children in higher grades are being found to have additional problems with social interactions and little or no problem-solving techniques. The missing link? Teaching the three C’s. Instilling, in children a love for learning, a process for making decisions, and the ability to solve problems while working with others begins by encouraging their creativity, curiosity, and courtesy.”

The Format:

The lay out of the book is designed to be read and used in a very easy to follow format. Pat not only explains the importance and value of each of the areas, she also provides information and ideas for activities and how to integrate the area into an early childhood setting. So perfect right?

Each of the 3 C’s is covered in the same 3 topic chapters; Teaching, Activities and Integrating. And interspersed are fun stories, quotes from children, additional resources and suggestions. The book is beautifully designed to be an valuable guide that is extremely informative while easy and fun to read.


Teaching Creativity

Quote from the book:

“For children to excel in a variety of academic areas, they need an established basis for exploring new information., understanding it thoroughly, and using what they know to problem solve. This basis is creativity.”

Added story:

“Alexis had crawled onto the couch and started to jump. I said, “No jumping on the couch.” She looked at me with an angelic smile and said, “We could hop!”



“Model for your child how items can have alternative uses than what they were originally intended for, such as using a can to roll your cookie dough, putting pennies in a sock for a paperweight, and using a book as a bookend.” 

Teaching Curiosity

Quote from the book:

“Creativity and curiosity are intrinsically linked. One leads to the other and vice versa. They are both important elements of problem solving. We begin by trying something new (creativity) and then test it to see what happens (curiosity). Bu the opposite can also occur, where we begin by looking to discover all the possibilities (curiosity) and then use this information in a new way (creativity) to solve our problem.”

Added story:

“I was sitting on the couch in my day care, surrounded by children, reading them a book. Jack was on my lap, and several of the other children were trying their personal techniques for obtaining that coveted spot. Alexis was slowly moving in, wiggling a toe under Jack and trying to be smooth. Hannah tried a more direct approach, standing in front of me, her back to me, and moving backward until she bumped into Jack and continued to bump him, hoping he’s move. Throughout this Ethan was sitting quietly to my right, even moving away from me to the end of the couch. After a few minutes, Ethan got up and began to walk around the room. Soon he had the toy vacuum and nonchalantly began pushing it around the room, eventually ending up near the couch. The he sat back on the end of the couch with a very satisfied smile. What Ethan new from hours of curious observation was that Jack loved that vacuum more than anything, including sitting on my lap. Ethan’s plan worked perfectly, as within seconds Jack spotted the vacuum and hopped of my lap just as Ethan slid in and claimed the front-row view!



Give each child a sheet of paper. It can be any kind – construction, newspaper, typing paper, poster board, or tissue paper. As them to see how many different sounds they can make with it. They can crumble it. Rip it. Tap it against itself. Blow on it or wave it. Let them try to come up with something you haven’t discovered.

Activity supports curiosity through the exploration of possibilities with the senses and also supports creative through functional freedom, using paper for something other than drawing on.   

Teaching Courtesy

Quote from the book:

“Bringing a sense of responsibility and dependability between people begins with courtesy. Teaching our children to be kind and helpful to each other had a tremendous impact on society, yet it is missing in most curriculums in our nation.” 

Added Story:

Alexis Shares Her Smile

“Outside on the wings one day, Alexis was giving me the biggest smile, and I said, “Alexis, I love the smile that you brought to school today! Where did you get it?”

She answered, “At the store.”

Who bought it for you, Mommy? I asked.

“No, Daddy bought it for me,” she said.

“Well, I really like it. I think you should bring it to school every day.” I said.

“Okay,” she said. “I will ask Daddy to buy more and I bring it to school every day.”

Do you think you could buy a whole bunc and keep them in your cubby?” I asked.

“Not in my cubby,” she said. “I share them with Rochelle and Ethan!”

“Great idea” I answered.”


“Encourage children to show each other they care, that they are friends, by doing something special not just on a birthday or holiday but any day. Support he in giving spontaneous hugs and saying, “You’re my friend!” Or have children draw pictures for each other. Encourage a child to go across the room to ask a friend to play or to share a toy. It’s always a great day to be kind to a friend.

Activity supports courtesy as children learn to be spontaneous with acts of kindness.

 My Small Contribution to this Book on Early Brain Development: 

“Deborah McNelis, brain development expert, author, educator, and creator of Brain Insights materials points out that character education is essential in the early years: “A very critical time for emotional development to take place is form birth to 18 months. A child’s brain makes connections based on the experiences in their environment. The experiences that are repeated of the are the connections that become the strongest.” She explains that once these foundations are created, the growth of a child who has received loving, caring interaction and the child who has not are very different. “A child that is exposed to lots of cuddles, laughter, smiles and positive caring language is going to have the caring systems in their brain activated and reinforced. Conversely, a child that is neglected or is living with many demands commands, and stress is going to have the fight or flight response areas of their brain reinforced.”

With these early brain connections being made so long before they reach us in an early childhood program, is it too late to change the child’s outcome? Not at all. According to McNelis. “The good news is that repetition can change the brain, so early care settings can provide the positive experiences all children need. The child that has had positive experiences early is going to get the reinforcement to continue a healthy emotional development that will lead to the aspects of courtesy. For the child that did not have positive opportunities early in life, the daily repetition of positive caring interactions in an early care setting can make changes to the early brain wiring. It takes a lot of consistency but the earlier it occurs, the better chance for making a change.”


It is a book filled with insights and ideas for contributing to essential aspects of optimal brain development. If you are looking for ways to support the 3 C's in the development of children, this is a really wonderful resource! 

What are your thoughts? Are the 3 C's as important as the 3 R's?  

Purchase the book here


Rick Ackerly

Children are born creative. The human brain is designed to create. For a person to stay creative on into adulthood depends more on the context than the content. We will not maximize students’ creative potential, if the only currency of success in school is grades and awards for achievement. We cannot expect our children to be inspired, if they think their job is to measure up to standards. We cannot expect students to go off to college with a love of learning, if the purpose of school is a preparation for something later, like admission to yet another school. Humans will not be creative in their efforts to harmonize their needs, values and interests with others, if we are intent on teaching them right and wrong.

Rick Ackerly
Rae Pica

Honestly, I believe they’re more important! I have nothing against the 3 R’s, of course, but we can’t reach our potential in any of those things without the 3 C’s. To me, success in life is about connection and problem solving — both of which require creativity, curiosity, and courtesy!

Rae Pica

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