Saturday, 24 January 2015

Week 3 Blog Assignment: Observing Communication

Observation can be a powerful tool for expanding your understanding of mindful communication and taking note of which communication strategies seem to work well and which ones do not. For this Blog Assignment, observe an adult and young child communicating and reflect on how the ways in which the adult engages in interactions demonstrates the kinds of effective communication you have been learning about this week.
Select a location for your observation. The possibilities are plentiful in everyday venues like a park, beach, community center, store, or on public transportation. A preschool or other early childhood setting also can provide an opportunity for you to see adults interacting and conversing with children.

This week I went to a children’s clothing store with a girlfriend and it was a wonderful opportunity to watch adults and children communicating with one another. During this observation I noticed several very different forms of interaction. Children having fits and parents tugging at them to leave the store, attentive adults asking their child their opinion on clothing choices, children playing and running around the store unsupervised and a father playing hide and go seek with his son while the mother did some shopping. The children in the store ranged from newborns to young children roughly six to seven.
                I think that it is important to note that it is impossible to gauge the way in which children and adults regularly communicate based on one quick observation. With that said, I really admired the way in which one mother asked her son his opinion on the clothing she was purchasing. They were deciding between two monster sweatshirts one orange and one blue depicting different monsters complete with a hood. The mother could have easily just bought the one she preferred but instead she valued his opinion, asked him questions and gave him some voice to form his own identity. 

Kolbeck explains that her first job as an educator is to teach the children to communicate with each other. One of the ways she can support this learning is by truly listening to the students (Laureate Education, 2011). I think that the mother in the above referenced example did just that. She asked her son questions about his preferences and really listened to his reasoning. I think that adults underestimate children and their ability to know what they want and justify their reasoning. If this ability to effectively communicate is taught early on it is a skill that can last them a life time. I think that the parents or adults who were not involving the children exhibiting examples of children misbehaving. “Listening to children seems so simple. But when you’re fetching water to clean up the paint area, wondering where the CD has disappeared to, and waving to a mother coming in the door, trying to listen to a child following behind you can become challenging” (Stephenson, 2009). I think that the example Stephenson gives with regards to educators can easily work in reference to parents and the way in which their busy lives and the everyday hustle and bustle can often hinder a parent’s ability to take the time to truly listen to their children.
I believe that when a child feels like they are truly heard, they feel valued and important as does any human being. I think that what I learned most from this task and from the way in which I communicate with children is the importance of ensuring that, even when busy, to take the time to truly listen to my students so that they know that they are appreciated and that their ideas and opinions matter.  


Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Strategies for working with diverse children: Communicating with young children. Baltimore, MD: Author

Stephenson, A. (2009). Conversations with a 2-year-old. YC: Young Children, 64(2), 90-95. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete database.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Blog Week 2: Creating Affirming Environments

                It has always been a goal of mine to open up my own Reggio Emilia learning center. It was not until this program that I realized the importance of the visual and material environment and the unconscious messages that they may convey. Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards (2010) state that “The toys, materials, and equipment you put out for children; the posters, pictures, and art objects you hang on the wall; and the types of furniture and how you arrange them all influence what children learn. An environment rich in anti-bias materials invites exploration and discovery and supports children’s play and conversations in both emergent and planned activities” (p.43).

As an anti-bias educator I want to ensure that my classroom adheres to the needs of each of my students as individuals. “When children do not see families like their own portrayed in books and play materials and elsewhere in the program, and when their home language is not supported, they can internalize a message that the program thinks there is something unimportant or wrong about their family and therefore about them” (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010, p.58). Furthermore, this program has taught me the importance of collaborating and creating partnerships with families. With that in mind, I really appreciate the way in which Adriana put a great deal of thought into her interaction with parents and the way in which she made them feel welcome. She had a sign in station with information and photos about the center and encouraged family participation along with an “open door” policy (Laureate Education, 2011). It was evident that Adriana knew the students in her care and the family members. She had a special area that allowed each family to share their culture. For example, one family brought in a collage of pictures and each month a different family would be invited to share who they are and where they come from with the class (Laureate Education, 2011).

With regards to materials, I would want to ensure that poster choices, books etc. depict a wide range of cultures so that every child can see his or herself depicted in the classroom. I think that it is also important to note that even children’s cultures who are not part of the student body should still be represented to celebrate the diverse world we live in. I grew up in a very small town and had little to no experience with many different cultures until moving to a larger city center. “Creating and assessing your learning environment is an ongoing process. Your materials will need to change over time to reflect each new group of children and families” (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010, p.44).

I would ensure that my classroom environment accurately and nonstereotypically reflects all children, families, and staff members within their daily lives. I would also ensure that children and adults from various racial and ethnic identities and groups within the community, families from a range of economic groups and even cultures not present in the community are all accounted for and fairly represented. People will disabilities of various backgrounds and diverse family structures would also all need to be represented in order to have a classroom that is truly diverse (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010, p.43).


Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. (pp.32-52). Washington, DC: NAEYC

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Strategies for working with diverse children: Building on children’s strengths. Baltimore, MD: Author