“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship” James Carter.
I wanted to start off with a quote I think reflects in few words the single most important tool for effective child learning and development, which is having significant relationships with parents, caregivers, and other children. The first human contact children have is with their parents, they quickly become their world, their security blanket, and their comfort. children immediately start to communicate with their parents by babbling, smiling, mimicking sounds and actions, providing eye contact, etc. These actions are often reciprocated by parents, which in consequence, supports early brain development and starts off their relationship. Parent-child relationships shape the way they see the world and affects all areas of development. Through this relationship children start learning about their world. And it is all because relationships let children express themselves; a cry, a laugh, a question – and get something back – a cuddle, a smile, an answer. What children ‘get back’ gives them very important information about what the world is like and how to act in the world – how to think, understand, communicate, behave, show emotions and develop social skills. This is why it is so important to be aware of how we portray the world to our children from a very young age, since everything we do, they will do it as well. Although parent-child relationship is the basis for all other relationships, there are some that are crucial
for other aspects of learning and development, being those with siblings, other members of the family, teachers, nature, and other children. Social and emotional development involves several areas of development, including social interaction, emotional awareness, and self regulation. Below are examples of important aspects of social and emotional development for young children. Social interaction focuses on the relationships we share with others, including relationships with adults and peers. As children develop socially, they learn to take turns, help their friends, play together, and cooperate with others. Emotional awareness includes the ability to recognize and understand our feelings and actions and those of other people, and how our own feelings and actions affect ourselves and others. Self-regulation is the ability to express thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in socially appropriate ways. Learning to calm down when angry or excited and persisting at difficult tasks are examples of self-regulation. . We let children know that their thoughts, feelings, and efforts matter by showing we are listening when they share their thoughts and feelings. . We help children use words to describe feelings. You might say, “it looks like you’re feeling very mad and frustrated. Would you like to tell me more about what is happening”? . We practice thinking about how others feel. When we read a story, we look intently at the pictures and discuss what the characters faces are telling us about what is happening and how they are feeling.
In the Reggio Emilia approach, we encourage the connection of children with nature and foment its relationship. The studies show that regular direct access to nature can increase self-esteem and prevent stress and anxiety as well as improve concentration, learning, creativity, cognitive development, self-awareness, etc. Nature provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, and nurturing awareness. For example, we have been taking care of a plant in our classroom for about 3 weeks now, and it has been amazing to watch how they have become more aware of the plant, how to take care of it, how we should touch it and water it.