Children are worthy of respect.
To this day, I have not met a child who hasn’t struck me as being competent, curious, and worthy. Regardless of age, stage or ability, children are miraculous in their capabilities to communicate, explore and experiment. I believe that relationships between adults and children should be mutually respectful. Children are worthy of our respect. This respect should be unconditional, and it is our responsibility, as adults, to appreciate children where they are at and exactly as they are.
This means respecting the fact that children have the innate ability to know what they need. Children naturally explore what they are interested in and what they want to know more about. By implementing a curriculum that is child-led, inquiry-based, play-based, and exploratory, we create the space for children to do what they do best, that is, interact with their environments and build relationships with others in order to form a solid emotional, spiritual, physical, and social foundation for learning.
Learning is shaped by our environments.
Children are naturally suited to learning; their play is their experimentation. This is why I believe that the early learning environment is an important one. When children are exposed to thoughtful, enticing, and accessible environments that are rich in learning opportunities, their instinct is to explore and to discover. The belief that the environment has the power to influence a child’s intellect and psychology has long been embedded within the Reggio Emilia approach (Rinaldi, C., 2006). Indeed, the Reggio Emilia philosophy has inspired my understanding of classroom aesthetics and I pride myself in incorporating natural elements in my provocations and invitations. It is important to me that the classroom environment reflects the diverse individuals that comprise it and I strive to ensure that the early years classroom is accessible to all children. My classroom environment is a neurosensitive one that seeks to calm, reassure, and promote peaceful community with the use of muted colours, calming scents, natural textures, and flexible seating.
Like all living beings, children are intimately tied to the earth. In response to this, I work alongside children to create meaningful connections with the land and our natural environment. A natural extension of the classroom is the great outdoors, and I can often be found exploring the forest alongside children. Indeed, the Forest School approach to education is one that I hold close to my heart, and I take care to communicate the importance of the land in healthy human development (Knight, S., 2016).
Children can change the world.
Children are our future and the values that we instill in them while they are young carry with them throughout their lives. Therefore, it is crucial that children are exposed to diverse individuals, thoughts, and practises from the start. Children should not be shielded from social issues but educated in them. When children understand what makes us different, including our sex, gender, race, class, ability, age etc., they are better able to find commonalities between us. Through practical activities such as cooperation with others during play, an exposure to diverse cultures and languages by the way of books and materials, and access to materials that are gender neutral, children understand themselves as part of a global community. When we expose our children to classrooms that do not tolerate exclusion and are open to children of a wide array of identities, we help to shape adults who are prepared to change the world.