As educators we embrace our role as serving the child, following the child. Children do not develop in isolation; children are deeply influenced by the places and people around them, as Bronfenbrenner described in his ecological systems theory. Bronfenbrenner placed the child at the centre of connected systems with the child being most influenced by the ‘microsystem’ which includes the family and the school and the ‘mesosystem’ describing the interaction between these microsystems. The exosystem includes influences such as educational policy and curriculum design. whilst the macrosystem represents the influence of societal values and the cultural view of the child (Introducing Bronfenbrenner, Hayes, O’Toole and Halpenny, 2017).
If we truly wish to follow and serve the child, it is of paramount importance that we connect with all those systems surrounding the child to develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the child’s life story. And even more so now in the wake of the Covid pandemic and the lockdowns which many of us have experienced and which prevented many of our children from attending (pre-)school. Whilst children have returned to their educational settings, life, post-Covid, is still not “back to normal”. Parents/carers may still be working at home (if their jobs are ‘safe’), secondary carers such as nannies may not have returned to their lives, and contact with extended family may have been limited.
In an article in Nursery World, Dr. Stella Louis recognises that it can be hard for educators to find the time to build relationships with parents but refers to EPPE research which underlines that such partnerships are crucial for emotional well-being and development and learning. Dr. Louis writes that “Respecting and drawing on the personal knowledge of parents about their child is important. This recognises that parents have a powerful influence on home learning and it will help early years educators to understand the influences on the child’s life” (Louis, S, ‘Working with Parents, Close to Home’, Nursery World, 16 March, 2020).
Melanie Simpson, Owner of The Village Montessori in Blackheath, London, surveyed her parents in the summer of 2021 and listened to their views. In this blog post, she shares how feedback from the parents led her to appreciate the value of her team even more and to further appreciating the need for trusting and following the child. Melanie will speak about this experience at a webinar on Tuesday 23 November at 20.00 (CET).
Teacher Tom, in his post, ‘We enrol the family, not the child‘ writes that, “As an American, ‘independence’, has been drilled into me, but the older I get, the longer I’ve worked with young children, and, frankly, the more divided our world has become, the more I find myself seeing the deeper wisdom of interdependence…What if we didn’t hurry “independence,” but rather allowed it to emerge from the richer, deeper soil of interdependence? What if we prioritised the lessons of connection, listening, and community?”