Whether we are aware of it or not we all hold an image of a child. And the good news is we can change and shift our views and perspectives. I think it is important for both the teachers and parents to be on the same page with regards to the image of the child. It is good to reflect on our image of the child as it runs how we teach. I love how the article talks about how the child wants the whole process to be seen. I think as adults we often are just hanging around waiting for results but the child wants to be watched the whole time whether it is observing, or words of encouragement. They appreciate it. I think as adults we do impose our time limits on the children and sometimes you have to just slow down and really sit and watch them, no cellphone or anything, just engaging with the child and no preconceived ideas or outcomes. It is easier said than done and of course difficult in a busy class with a lot happening. Sometimes it is easier at home with my own child. I think adults (especially grandparents) often feel like they have to constantly talk and teach them all the time but how will their imagination grow if they are always interrupted? I think sometimes because results ‘are not immediate’ in regards to learning through play the development benefits last forever. It can be hard for adults to see that they are learning so much just tinkering around and playing. I also enjoyed how the article says we do not need to protect them from things they do not need protecting from. As long as the environment is safe and there are things in place and adults around then learning can happen. I also love how children learn from each other and how much more engaged they can be when working with others. They do have to be able to experience life and all its ebbs and flows and I think sometimes teachers are better at facilitating this than parents as they are slightly removed from the immediate outcome. I think it can be frustrating when you offer things to children and they show no interest in it but they will be interested in something and of course their attention spans come and go. Whenever we do any kind of work with parents or other teachers we always start with the image of the child and getting them to really think about their beliefs and how it is impacting on their teaching. Documenting can really help show others how the image of a child shines through. I think reflecting on the image of the child is key and one of the easiest places to start on a new learning journey as a teacher/parent/adult. I think it is important not to do for a child what they can do for themselves. As a teacher/parent we can decide yes they can pour their own juice, yes they can get dressed, they can tidy their toys and then let them do it. And if children can learn all the complicated names of all the dinosaurs they can handle a lot more than we give them credit for.
How can I change our image of child?
If you want to look more closely at your image of child, one way is to document and reflect. When you closely observe children and document their play and interests, you will also see their strength and capabilities. Reflecting is a very important practice in Reggio and one that is not always easy but is very effective.
Another way is, to look at your environment, activities and what you do and do not allow them to do. Perhaps there are some areas that you can reflect on and decide if there are any changes you would like to make. For example, can they pour their own water or juice from a small jug into their cup, instead of you doing it for them?
What can I do?
Let’s take a look at some of the things that might be influenced by your image of child.
- Are there any things that you are currently doing for your child that they could do by themselves? i.e. get dressed, putting on shoes, pouring juice, setting the table, tidying up toys etc.
- Of course there is not always time for them to do everything, but perhaps when you have a bit more time or a slow weekend, you can get them started and teach them how to do it.
- And yes, you have to teach them how to do certain things, they may not do it right or your way perfectly every time but the only way for them to learn is to practice.
- Another thing you can do is let your child help with everyday tasks, such as tidying, setting the table etc. they have fun and learn some life skills at the same time.
- When your child asks you a question for example- why are the leaves changing color? Instead of launching into a whole scientific explanation, throw the question back to them and ask- Why do you think the leaves might be changing color? Then wait for them to answer, sometimes they just need a while to think about it. One day they will learn or can easily google the science behind it but we want to foster their creative thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills. The best thing about this is that you don’t have to have the answers to everything and you can research alongside them. I think your child might surprise you with the theories they come up with and rather ask them questions about their theories than get set on them knowing the correct answer.
- Personally, I am not big on crafts especially for children under the age of 6/7. Young children still need time to master fine motor skills etc. Better to focus more on process art and let them explore a variety of media.
There are of course many other aspects that I am sure you can add to the list.
I think reflecting on the image of the child is key and one of the easiest places to start on a new learning journey as a teacher/parent. I also think it is important not to do for a child what they can do for themselves. As a teacher/parent you can decide- yes, they can pour their own juice, they can get dressed, they can tidy their toys and then let them do it while being supportive, guiding and facilitating them. If children can learn all the complicated names of all the dinosaurs they can handle a lot more than we give them credit for.