5.1.1 Positive educator to child interactions

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Responsive and meaningful interactions build trusting relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident and included.

For children to participate they need to form trusting relationships with caregivers and other children to feel securely attached. “Attachment theory” was first proposed by John Bowlby (1907 – 1990). He proposed that children come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others because this helps them to survive. Secure attachments let the child develop in a positive and confident way. Insecure attachments adversely affect the child’s learning and social and emotional development.

Children who are securely attached look confident. They may be quiet or energetic, but they participate fully in all the learning and development opportunities. They have good relationships with adults and other children and have the confidence to seek help when needed.

When children feel safe and secure, they will explore. If they feel threatened or wary, they will seek comfort from a trusted caregiver and have less interest in exploring and learning.

Children who are insecurely attached may be withdrawn or quiet. They may not engage with other children or adults and focus on activities more than relationships with people. They are unlikely to ask for help. Some children with insecure attachments crave attention and will engage in attention seeking behaviour. This makes it hard for them to concentrate on activities, rules and other people.

As a group, discuss the points below. Do you:
⦁ Set up a familiar place in your room that will be the drop off place for the child and parent every morning?
⦁ Ensure you are there when the child walks in?
⦁ Ensure you get down to the child’s height so you can look into their eyes when you greet them?
⦁ Make an honest effort to acknowledge all children and parents when you greet them and use their names?
⦁ Explain to children you will come back when you go to the toilet, lunch or leave the room?
⦁ Build trusting relationships with children with a hug, a conversation or warm looks and responses at all times of the day?
⦁ Tell children they are doing a good job and say you are there for them?
⦁ Always notice when children need your help?

After reading about Attachment Theory and discussing the points above, what does your practice for NQS element 5.1.1 look like compared to the element and the three exceeding themes?

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Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community. The biggest influence on children’s lives comes from their family and community. When we understand more about the child’s family we can build a stronger relationship with the child and ensure they feel supported and included. Use the list below to learn more about the children you care for and educate.
⦁ Who lives in the child’s house?
⦁ What type of dwelling do the children live in?
⦁ What do the children eat for breakfast?
⦁ How do they get to your service?
⦁ Who belongs to the child’s extended family?
⦁ Who else is authorised to collect the children?
⦁ What parks do the children play at?
⦁ What coffee shops do the children go to?
⦁ What after school activities do the children go to?
⦁ Which shops do they visit?
⦁ What restaurants do the children go to?
⦁ What doctors do the children go to?
⦁ What hospital have they been to?
⦁ What do they do at home?
⦁ How many bedrooms do they have?
⦁ What toys do they have?
⦁ What books do they read?
⦁ What songs do they sing at home?
⦁ What TV shows do they watch?
⦁ What time do they go to bed?
⦁ What does mum and dad do for work?
⦁ Who are mum and dad’s best friends?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community.

In the picture above, the educator is trying to see the world through the parent’s eyes. This is critical reflection because you are asking, “how could others’ knowledge (parents’ view) allow me to better understand the child?”
What’s unique about each of your families eg culture, heritage, work, lifestyle, hobbies?

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How do you use these unique features to strengthen the relationship with the child/ren?

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What have you changed because of this different viewpoint and critical reflection?

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Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection. The NQS Guide wants all educators to demonstrate self-awareness and be purposeful in the consideration of the theoretical perspectives that influence their pedagogy and the practice across the service.

In the above picture, the educator is trying to see the world through her team member. This is a critical reflection and Exceeding Theme 2 because you are asking, “what questions do I have about my work? What am I challenged by? What am I curious about? What am I confronted by?”

People bring their emotional life and past experiences to work. It doesn’t have to affect work if you can identify it and work on it. An example that might help you understand this idea better is related to Attachment Theory. It is well documented that adults can repeat the process of ‘disorganised attachment’ from their childhood with their children. What isn’t as well documented is this cycle can be broken once people have identified the issue and are taught how to address it.

Working with children creates a huge emotional response in educators and Professor Peter Elfer from the UK has been researching how ‘Work Discussion’ groups can help educators deal with the range of emotions they experience in centres. He says working with young children requires a deep level of emotional engagement and with all our differences with family background, experience and expectations we need to create a space to have a ‘Work Discussion’ that consists of educators coming together to discuss their emotional wellbeing.

To connect the above ideas and Element 5.1.1, discuss the emotions educators can experience when working with children. Here are some points to guide the discussion:
⦁ Has there been a time when your emotions stopped you from being responsive to children and having meaningful interactions to build trusting relationships?
⦁ What behaviours might you see from an educator when they are emotionally afraid to build trusting relationships?
⦁ How could Educational Leaders and Nominated Supervisors emotionally support educators?


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