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“They’re smarter than what we give them credit for.”

Date: February 5, 2015 Author: hpelc Categories: Educators Blog

By Loretta Davis

“They’re smarter than we give them credit for”. These words were spoken to me the other night by one of our nursery parents. And of course, I agree. Although, I didn’t realise how much I agree until several hours after our conversation, after I’d been home for a while. Children are a lot more intelligent than they are often given credit for. Our nursery room often celebrates a lot of milestones; crawling, walking, chewing solid foods and even recognising when a nappy needs a change. All of these cues and signals indicate autonomy and the process of growing up. Just the other day, I had a conversation with Mr Alex regarding one of our little ones, Alice. We were laughing and talking about how we could say something, and Alice would recognise what we were saying, especially as Alice has been doing a lot of nodding and shaking her head! Mr Alex was trying to encourage Alice to fetch a scarf for him, as he believed Alice could understand his request, while I watched on. Alice looked at Mr Alex with an amused expression, and headed towards the scarf. As Alex and I looked at each other to acknowledge this movement, Alice suddenly dove under the couch, and pulled out a book. Of course we thought it was hilarious. Alice was being Alice, making her own rules. Atlee is another one of our friends, his language has boomed lately. He is mimicking, responding and beginning to string along sentences of his own language. But all of this has a point. It is not just expressing sounds and words, exploring vibrations through his voice-box and movement of the tongue as he speaks; he has a point. He is trying to say something. What strikes me as a very vital aspect of my job, is understanding what children are trying to say to me. What strikes me even more, is working towards helping them know that they can say something. Part of our Handprints philosophy is the respect of our different experiences as people. We all come from somewhere, and it is all from somewhere different. I like to consider where we are going too, as that is also an important aspect of the journey for everyone in the Handprints family. I love that I am embraced as a person, completely and wholly in Handprints. My ideas, my skills, my interests are respected and I feel at home with that. I want the same for our children. Some of our babies hate getting messy, some of them have challenges with movement or communicating when they are tired and hungry. What is important to me though, is working within our team and with our families to help our children understand they can make noise, they can express emotion, they can try things even with risk of failure. Without failure, no lessons are learnt. If I am honest, the reason I am so supportive about children’s rights, is because I’ve met a lot of obstacles on my own journey that I have questioned. These experiences that I have come from, are helping me and will help me in my future. I’ve learnt lessons, I’ve asked questions, I’ve prompted other educators about our practices and our philosophies. There have been times, sadly, when my questions have been ignored, my promptings shut down. That has taken me to where I am today. Handprints provides that support of, “Yes, speak with our children, for our children. Let’s all learn together to provide quality care.” The commitment to progression and quality is so important for our children. I’ve listened to conversations across the rooms at Handprints and observed how our educators encourage our children to question, to share their ideas and their thoughts, their passions, their fears and to know, that it is ok. I’ve been deeply involved recently in providing consistency within our nursery to assist our children with their transition into care. It is so important to build our trust and our respect with our children in the room, in positive and reassuring ways. From nappy changes, to hand washing and meal times, our children look to us for help. By starting with the little experiences, we can build up to the bigger experiences such as confidence in getting passed over into the arms of an educator at drop off in the morning from mum or dad. Our experiences help make us unique, and they also help us shape our future. Marian W. Edelman says it so strongly and truthfully, “If we don’t stand up for children… then we don’t stand for much.” That is why it is so important to begin educating children and supporting them to explore their likes and dislikes, their comfort zone and outside their comfort zone, as well as helping them understand they have the right to be loved, to be fed, to have restful areas, areas to play, to be respected and to have their trust earned, to share ideas and thoughts and my favourite… to be heard.