Building relationships with children and families can happen in many different ways. From here it becomes very easy to create learning environments.
Look below to see how a hairdressing salon was established. The parent sees the children’s interest in hairdressing and her hairdresser came in to give a lesson.
We heard of one service recently getting a dad who was an electrician to come in and do some work. While there he had a discussion with children about light bulbs and batteries, and children asked lots of questions about electricity and how things work.
A new baterry and light table was set up from this experience.
Do the children at your service love showing you what they can do? Are they proud when they set up their own play activities after deciding for themselves what they would like to do? These children are displaying their sense of agency. “I can do this.” At the same time educators are building trusting, respectful relationships with children as they encourage children to find their own voice and follow through on their ideas. “I believe in you.” “I have confidence in your abilities.”
It’s much easier for children and educators to do this when a service has inviting spaces for independent and collaborative play, when furniture and resources are appropriate for children’s development and interests, and when the layout of activities and resources takes into account a child’s perspective. “Can I reach that?” “Will I be interrupted?” “Is it too big?” “Can I play here with my friends?”
“We sorted the loose parts including kitchen bits and pieces and recycling and set up a focus table with all metal things on it. This was connected to Tom’s experiments with magnets which led to a lot of experimental play for everyone. In contrast to the table with metal, I moved our plants down from the high shelves and put them on a low table making sure to include lavender as a strong sensory experience. ” Penny, Brandi and Tamara
“I set the book shelf up as an instrument display and invitation for the children to play.” Penny
Do we as educators really listen to children’s comments about the settings and resources? Do we seek feedback from children and families about potential changes? Remember that to be “suitable for their purpose” buildings, spaces, furniture and resources don’t just have to ‘do their job’ eg be a space for quiet, restful activities. They have to encourage children to engage in activities which invite open ended interactions and promote learning outcomes eg explore, solve problems, create, construct.
Tamara had the children turn our city road map into a country
farmscape instead using paint and adding toy animals. All this came from a desire to follow Angus’ interest and family culture as he lives on a farm.
How are children given the opportunity to plan and modify the outdoor and indoor environment at your service?
How do you encourage children to participate in their community? One way is to participate in local community festivals. Have a look below at how educators at Dubbo ELC actively encouraged children to be involved in the DREAM festival which celebrates the local creative community. There is a DREAM lantern parade where children can showcase lanterns they make along with those of professional artists. Lantern making workshops were held for school groups and the general public. Dubbo ELC educators held their own lantern workshops. See the following extract from their Curriculum Planning Sheets.
“Dubbo Dream festival has begun and to help join in the community spirit we have been making some lanterns this week. There will be twilight markets and a big lantern parade in town on Saturday night and I’m thinking some of the children will be there. We have made our lanterns in the shape of fish to continue our fishy theme. Logan, Stella C, Stella L, Chace, and Lilliana did lots of weaving in and out with crepe paper strips. Penny (educator) was impressed when Stella C called the strip of paper a streamer without any prompting. We tried to do some of our weaving outside and Alice and Georgia enjoyed the way the wind blew the streamer making it dance around in the air.
We continued making lanterns today. Alice, Georgia, Jasmine, Lincon, Lilliana, and Bell all worked very hard to decorate our paper lantern fish with textas. Jasmine tried using her left and right hands alternately. She concentrated hard and took special care to put the lid back on after using each one. Alice and Georgia named each colour as they picked it up.”
“Assessors may observe an environment that reflects the lives of children and families…and discuss how the service builds connections between the service and the local community..” NQS Guide 6.3.4
Does your local community hold a festival? How do you ensure children participate? If there is no local festival, have a look at what’s on in the broader community?