Relationships and connections are important principles of the Reggio Emilia approach. Educators of Reggio Emilia believe that humans are interconnected and interdependent beings. Lella Gandini speaks of educators, families and children as the three subjects of education that are always in relation with one another.1
The child is never alone. Children are always in interaction with other children, adults and their surroundings.
As educators, we must recognize that the “competent child” can only exist in the context. We must take time to get to know the child, get to know what the child can do to be able to “teach” the child.
One of the ways to get to know the child and make sincere relationships with them is the Pedagogy of Listening. Through active listening, asking meaningful questions, and recognizing children’s hundreds languages, we can build bridges that connect our heart and soul to the child’s.
There are many opportunities for us as educators to practice active listening with children:
Paying close attention to what children say, reflecting on and interpreting their conversations in our mind and responding to them with full presence provide opportunities to have deep and mutually respectful conversations.
Establishing more formal times in which children and adults are encouraged to discuss arising subjects makes it possible for children to be active participants in their environment and encourages them to build connections with those around them.
Including children in the process of curriculum design invites both educators and children to share ideas and provide feedback in mutual and respectful ways. In this process, it becomes clear to the children that they play an important role in their school and that their relationship with the educators and other children is an important part of their learning.
We will be discussing the subject of relationships and connections in our upcoming Dialogue and Dessert on December 3rd. Click here to join us for the conversation!
1. Gandini, L. (1993). Fundamentals of the Reggio approach to early childhood education. Young Children 49 (1) , 4-8.