One of the most important things in early childhood education is to treat children with respect and value their opinions. And, since every child is different, special, and unique in some way, individuality is important to consider in the activities and assessments instead of just looking at all children thinking that they are the same. In addition to that, activities and assessments should not be used against children and should be instead a way for teachers to improve children’s learning development.
For that reason, Lilja (2012) believed that “all children should feel as though they had a voice in our classroom and felt safe to express that voice” (Lilja, 2012, p.391). It got some to even wondered what it would be like if educators were to take a step back and not impose their own values [beliefs and rules] on the children and instead put the children’s needs before their own and incorporate their voices?
By reflecting on her own teaching, Lilja (2012) felt that her interference in her play based learning activities “led to the children feeling imposed upon and upset, damaged [student/teachers] relationships, and ended their play” (Lilja, 2012, p.392). She was also not achieving her own goals. For that reason, she decided not to “regulate the children’s play to serve her own needs” (Lilja, 2012, p.392), and instead let the young children “use fantasy play to process and make meaning from their experiences” (Lilja, 2012, p. 392).
Bottom line is, if we [educators] want to achieve our classroom goals, we need to be open to the interests of the children and listen to them and to their concerns and let the ideas come from them. It’s by listening to children, that we as educators can be “open to hearing their voices” (Lilja, 2012, p.393) to tell us through their play, what was important to them. As a result, Lilja realized that by learning to listen to her students, she was able to help them create that community of learners and players she so valued, one based on their mutual interest in exploring the themes relevant to her students (Lilja, 2012).
A child’s life is qualitatively different from that of the adult and anyone who truly cares about children must take them seriously. Far too many adults view childhood as a mean to an end: “they value childhood only in terms of its hope for later achievement. They seem to forget that, being a child has value in its own right and that childhood is more than a passing phase between infancy and adulthood. It is by respecting children as children, handling their heartfelt wishes with care, and apprenticing them into the roles they aspire to fulfill that we exert a powerful, positive influence on the course of human development” (Jalongo et al. 2010, p.3).
Therefore, in order for the children’s voices to be heard, we, as Educators, need to listen with the intend to understand and not with the intent to reply. That’s when I really connected with the idea of employing “learning stories” in the classroom. But where do “learning Stories” come from and who’s behind them? Lets explore together…
Children Speaking about the importance of play (2013). Retrieved from :http://youtu.be/sby38BbLZuY
Jalongo, M. R., Stevenson, L., Davis, A. C., & Stanek, M. L. (2010). Taking children seriously. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38(1), 1-3.doi:10.1007/s10643-010-0392-2
Lilja, E. (2012). Prioritizing voices in teacher research: Learning to listen to my students’ voices over my own. Childhood Education, 88(6), 391.
Studying Imagination in Children’s play (2012). Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/sQb95itdoCM
Voices of Children – Promotional Video. (2016). Retrieved from: https://vimeo.com/179374026
Image 1 retrieved from: http://www.learningstories.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Childrens-missing-voice.jpg
Image 2 retrieved from : https://marshallmorrismcsorley.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/inclusion1.jpg
Image 3 quote retrieved from: http://www.learningstories.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Listening-quote.png
Image 4 retrieved from : https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/35/09/6c/35096cd9d3ca30af8b749dad524e7b8c.jpg