The Importance of Connection for Children
Author: Lara Jennings Date Posted: 11 July 2018
Why it is so important for children to have a sense of connection in your child care setting…
Children can feel challenged when entering an early learning environment for the first time. It can be hard on them. It’s a big transition… they are going into a space where they are not comfortable, they have never been before, they don’t know anyone, and they have no connection to this space.
It is so important for children in their first few days to get to know their educators. For them to understand that their educators are people that they can trust and feel safe with. Once they have a bond with their educators, it opens them up to the world of learning.
Attachment Parenting is a theory that you have most likely heard… where research shows that babies need to have a sense of attachment to their care givers. This attachment theory is similar for children developing connection in an early learning environment. Young children need to have a sense of attachment to an educator. From experience with my son, the first educator he felt really attached to was an educator called ‘Jazz’. He loved her. Every time he was anywhere near her he would run up and give her a big hug. Anytime she left the room he would cry. Although seeing him upset was difficult, I knew this attachment was a good thing. My son had made a connection to someone in that environment. From this attachment I knew he could develop a sense of connection not just to Jazz but to another educator or to another place in that environment. From this, he would feel more confident and comfortable in his environment.
How to help develop attachment and connection in an early learning space:
It is not uncommon for an early learning setting to have 3 educators caring for 12 children. For any new children starting in your room, it is so important assign a primary educator to them. The child may end up picking their own educator, someone who they are naturally drawn to and feel a sense of connection with. The person you assign might not be the first choice of the child, so you will need to be flexible with this. Go with it, let them have control over who they choose. That is who they feel most comfortable with in that space.
When a child has a bond with an educator (either assigned upon starting care or one that naturally develops), this educator becomes the main point of contact for the child’s family. Communication about the child should flow primarily between this educator and the child’s carers. Any concerns or feedback from the family is best to be relayed to this educator and vice versa. This is SO important.
Find out from the family the kind of things the child enjoys, the things they like doing. Ensure these things are reflected in the program and the early learning environments. This creates a connection to things the child loves doing at home. By including things that are familiar to the child they may feel things like… ‘I LOVE this and this place has been set up for ME! This thing is here because of ME and for ME!’
When the environments we set reflect the children, it can increase their sense of connection and help speed along this process of connection and attachment in your early learning environment.
It is no coincidence that our Early Years Learning Framework is called Belonging, Being and Becoming. It is the ‘Belonging’ part that is about the connection process. When children have a connection to a space, or when they have a connection to an educator, they really do get that sense of belonging. Once they have that sense of belonging, they can be themselves… they can explore more, investigate more, find out more, speak more, communicate more, socialise more. These things happen when they have a connection and a sense of belonging.
I would LOVE to hear your stories. If you have something that you (or a fellow educator) did to help a child connect in your learning environment, please share! You can do this in the comments section on this blog or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or share on our Facebook page.
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