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Reflections Magazine : Issue 56 Spring 2014
Respectful Caregiving with Infants and Toddlers 8 Osanna Giang Director Nanbaree Child Centre, Gowrie NSW During our centre's recent assessment and rating, we received a rating of 'Exceeding' in the area of relationships with children. After further reflection, and with a desire to continually improve, we made a decision to strengthen our practices by linking and grounding our work to theory and research - we had previously been acting on what felt "right" and what was in the best interests of the child. We connected with Magda Gerber's RIE (Resources for Infant Educators) philosophy with its emphasis on respectful caregiving, relationships and trusting the child -- all elements which align with our centre philosophy. The Early Years Learning Framework also identifies secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships with children as one of the principles that underpin good practice (DEEWR, 2009). Relationships, including whether or not children feel safe and supported, directly affect how children form their own identity and, ultimately, their sense of belonging. The principles of Magda Gerber's work and the Early Years Learning Framework have intertwining fundamentals. We started this journey with all educators doing a self-reflection on their own values when working with children. Typically, everybody wrote the word "respect" . When pushed further about what the word 'respect' actually means, educators were not really able to answer. This led to a discussion of how we could respectfully care for infants and toddlers when we had no concept of what "respectful caregiving" actually meant. Educators began their own personal journeys exploring the word and looking carefully at their current practices. A culture of questioning had already existed, and this helped support the new learning and reflections. To begin with, we carried out a deep analysis of our current practices and reflected on whether or not our practices were respectful of young infants. For example, we discovered that there were times when infant cues were being missed, resulting in overtired or hungry children. Our reflections led to questions: • How is this a respectful mutual relationship if we are not regularly meeting the needs of children? • How does this justify a rating of 'Exceeding'? • How can we ensure that children's cues are not missed and their needs are being met?
Reflections Issue 57 Summer 2014
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014