by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Reflections Magazine : Issue 56 Spring 2014
This, in turn, led us to reflect on the primary educator system. We know that for children to feel safe and secure, they need to have a strong attachment and connection with a caring adult. The presence of a familiar, primary caregiver reduces stress and can be a supporter of the child and parent attachment relationship (Marty, Readdick, Walters, 2005). We reflected deeply on how we treat young children. For example, do we talk to children about a nappy change or do we just pick them up off the floor, without saying anything? If our philosophy and values state that we respect children, what does that actually look like? We had a lot of work to do, reflective discussions to have, and many practices to improve. As we were examining our own assumptions and practices relating to how we treat children, we worked to keep families involved and to communicate with them. As a team, we discussed and agreed on how we would communicate our practices to families to ensure consistent information was being shared. As the RIE philosophy is based on being respectful of children, families were intrigued and indeed, there are some aspects of the approach that can be challenging for some adults. For example, this approach values freedom of movement. This implies that children should not be placed in a position that they cannot get into themselves - the idea being that children will naturally get into a position (for example, sitting) once they are ready and have developed the necessary muscles and balance. As this approach can be very different to how families do things at home, we see our role as following children's cues and helping parents to understand why we follow certain practices at this centre. The RIE philosophy believes that young infants should be given passive objects to explore and engage with rather than active toys. For example, open-ended, everyday objects such as stainless steel bowls, plastic cups, balls and egg cups can be used in a variety of ways while a single purpose object, such as a pop up toy, can only be used as a pop up toy. We started to question the validity of purchasing active toys that do not encourage imaginative play. This thinking has changed the way that we purchase resources and what we do with existing "toys" . Any toy that we deem as close ended, we donate to charitable organisations. We also purchase open-ended objects from charitable organisations, thus embedding sustainable practices into our environment. Not only do we donate unwanted goods to people who want them, we also purchase other people's unwanted goods -- a real life example of one person's trash being another person's treasure! Someone's unwanted goods became literally our treasure. Magda Gerber (1986) states, "play objects for infants need to be those which the infant can look at, touch, grasp, hold, mouth, and manipulate endlessly, never repeating the same experience. It is easy to find such objects in your own kitchen or in a dime store." Access to research and documentation helped to support educators in exploring and understanding the information and the changes required, while a mix of readings, team meetings, videos and role modelling helped to cater for all types of learners. In addition, we kept a team reflective journal so that we could follow and reflect on our own learning journey. Some issues that were raised were easy to overcome, others took more time and discussion as staff worked to understand the concepts of respectful caregiving. To make this journey more interesting and personal for staff, they were also given the responsibility to do their own research. As Director, that put me in a vulnerable position -- what if staff found research that contradicted the RIE approach? But I felt that I needed to trust my team, to believe that all the learning and reflecting that we had accomplished so far had made an impact, and that we all shared the same vision and direction. The work that we are currently undertaking with infants and toddlers supports our core values of: - basing our practice on evidence and research; - being open to new ideas and approaches; - leading by example. While our relationships with children have always been strong we feel that historically infants and toddlers have not been treated with the same respect as older children. We needed theory to support and ground our practices and our management has been very supportive in budgeting and organising for two educators to attend the RIE foundations training in New Zealand. This was a substantial expenditure and demonstrated support and commitment to creating quality and respectful environments for all children. We only embarked on this journey six months ago and we have already seen a dramatic difference in practice. Children are calmer and have a sense of independence and confidence because their primary educator is close by and will meet their individual needs when required. Educators are much more attuned to children's needs and their cues, and are able to meet their emotional and physical needs. Overall, we have found that respectful caregiving promotes responsive and trusting relationships with children and their families. Through this experience, children quickly understand what to expect and predict and, as the new environment and relationships become more familiar, are able to relax, explore and take risks in their learning. References: Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments [DEEWR] (2009). Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. ACT. Retrieved from: http://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/belong- ing_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_f or_australia.pdf Gerber, Magda (1986). Originally Published in Educaring, Spring. Retrieved from: http://www.magdagerber.org/selecting-toys-for-in- fants---vol-vii-no-2-spring-1986.html Marty, A. H., Readdick, C. A. and Walters, C. M. (2005). Supporting secure parent-child attachments: the role of the non-parental caregiver. Early Child Development and Care, 175(3), 271-283. REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SPRING 2014 - ISSUE 56
Reflections Issue 57 Summer 2014
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014