Archive for ELECT

30 Jun 2011

Building Relationships from a Distance

No Comments ELECT, Infants, Social
Infants (0-24 months)
Social

1.4 Maintaining Connection across Space

  • Uses gestures, vocalizations and her emerging expressice language to keep connected to an adult across space
Make eye contact when you are across the room.

Mobile, older infants are now able to communicate across space (distal communication).

Making eye contact from across the room can help to maintain your connection to an infant who is exploring.

It’s all about relationships.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; caregiving in the early years is all about relationships. The most important thing that we do day in and day out is not “teaching” new skills but forming trusting, supportive, respectful relationships with the infants and young children in our care. That being said, when it comes to group care, this can be a challenge because we are often very busy and rarely have the opportunities which allow us to have fully engaged one on one interactions with the children. So we do our best to have as many of those moments as we can and we take full advantage of caregiving routines which allow us this time. That being said, when it comes to forming relationships in a busy infant, the ability to keep connected across space is a significant one.

As we go about our classroom routines, we need to be conscious of what is happening with the children around us. By being attentive to children’s explorations, even from a distant, we allow them the opportunity to engage us in what they are doing, even when we are doing other things. Across the room, an infant may be exploring with a toy, and look over, attempting to make eye contact, he or she may gesture or say the name of the toy, trying to call our attention to what they are doing. Although we may be unable to join them in their exploration, by acknowledging their communication and responding to them, we are still able to support their exploration and strengthen the relationship. An infant or young child may call out for us with a need, such as hunger or physical affection. We might not be able to meet this need immediately if we are attending to another child, but now we are able to respond by letting the child know that we have heard them and will be there to support them when we are finished with the task at hand. We’re never too busy or too far away to respond to an infant or young child in a respectful, supportive way.

29 Mar 2011

Holistic Development

No Comments ELECT, Infants, Social
Infants (0-24 months)
Social

1.3 Simple Turn Taking

  • Playing simple one-to-one games such as peekaboo
Cover your face with a transparent scarf. Pull it off and say “Peekaboo!” Pause and repeat. Soon the infant will pull off the scarf when you pause. When he does, say “Peekaboo!” Repeat so the infant takes turns.
This simple game provides practice in the give and take of simple turn taking.

This is a wonderful example of what I really love about the continuum in the ELECT. This item “simple turn taking” is found both here, in the Social domain, as well as being repeated later in the “communication, language and literacy” domain under non-verbal communication skills. This is great because it takes into account the holistic way that young children learn and develop. This and many other skills and milestones in the development of young children encompass multiple domains and I think that it’s important to remember that. Children (or adults for that matter) are never learning just one thing; they are taking in many things all around them, learning and growing at a rapid pace. Life isn’t a place where you can control for all the variables to isolate one factor, and I think that’s a good thing. There are several overlaps like this in the continuum and I hope that they will help all who use it to keep the holistic nature of development in mind as we work with and observe young children.

One more thing I’ve noticed is that “peek-a-boo” is a game that we all seem to instinctively play with babies. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you have a lot of experience with babies and young children or none at all, when faced with a baby, everyone seems to end up playing some form of “peek-a-boo” either with their hands, or peering over a newspaper or around a corner. At least that’s my experience. I’d love to know what you think.

21 Feb 2011

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

No Comments ELECT, Infants, Social
Infants (0-24 months)
Social

1.2 Imitation

  • imitating adult behaviour
  • take part in pretend play with simple scenarios like caring for dolls
Opening your arms wide, say, “Big!” Pause and look directly at the infant. Repeat. When he imitates this action, say, “You did it!”
Playing “copy me” games supports observation and imitation as a way of learning.

Infants have an amazing capacity to learn. Not only do they learn at an incredibly rapid pace but they are constantly learning like sponges, absorbing all that’s around them. This can be a scary thing. Not only because as adults we can’t even hope to learn as much in a day or month or year as infants do, but because we are the ones that they are learning from.  As parents or caregivers, we are the primary influences in an infant’s life. They watch everything that we do (even the things we wish they didn’t). This puts us in a position of great responsibility. We are their guides to this world, teaching them how they can interact with their environment as well as with those around them. Thinking about our everyday lives, if we were more conscious that we were being watched and our actions were being analyzed, would that change our behaviours? Are we acting as the models that we’d like to be?

Now my intent is not to stress everyone out because we’re not perfect. No one is, myself included. Fortunately one of the other things we know about child development is that in order for an infant to truly learn something, they must see it (or hear) it many times over. So it’s not what we do all the time, but rather what we do most of the time that counts. We all have our moments.

As surprising as it can be when we see ourselves reflected through the words or actions of a young child, it’s also wonderful. Who doesn’t smile when they see and infant pick up a purse, wave and say “bye” or hold a baby doll to their chest as if trying to breastfeed. What a wonderful peek into the adults that they will become.

27 Jan 2011

The Importance of Social Development

No Comments ELECT, Infants, Social
Infants (0-24 months)

Social

1.1 Social Interest

  • preferring human faces to inanimate objects or animals
  • smiling at an adult
  • returning the gaze of an adult
  • seeking adults for play, stretching arms to be picked up
  • examining objects with others as a means of forming relationships
  • observing peers

Play with the infant on her physical level.

This tells her that you are available as a respectful partner in play.

First of all I have to say that I love the order in which the developmental domains are presented in the ELECT continuum. Social is first, followed by Emotional, then Communication/Language, Cognitive and Physical. I like that the Social and Emotional domains aren’t lumped together as they often are and I really appreciate that they come first in the continuum. I don’t know how the order of domains was decided but I like to believe that Social and Emotional were put first to remind us of their importance.

The relationships that we develop with young children are so important. One of the most significant tasks that we have as caregivers is to support infants and young children in developing healthy relationships. This isn’t something that we can plan for on a weekly programming sheet but developing secure and supportive relationships with the children in our care is what takes up most of our time and will form the basis for other learning experiences. Infants thrive when they feel safe and supported to explore and learn and develop at their own pace.

It is my hope that this part of the continuum will support caregivers in making the children’s learning visible to parents in these “harder to observe” domains. Also that caregivers will be able to take the words from the ELECT and use them in their conversations with parents to share their observations of the children’s development.

19 Jan 2011

Early Learning For Every Child Today

1 Comment ELECT

it’s a great document and could be effectively used as a framework for early childhood practices

Early Learning for Every Child Today or ELECT, as it is better known, is a document that was created a few years back by the Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning, through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services here in Ontario. It is meant to be a framework for Early Childhood Settings within the province. Not all Early Childhood Educators (ECE) have had the opportunity to become familiar with the document, however, it is being passed around and professional development opportunities that center around the ELECT are starting to occur. I facilitated one such event this evening. It was a make and take workshop geared towards infant educators, however, it was enhanced in that we also included information on the ELECT and how to incorporate it’s framework into our practices.

Here’s the thing about the ELECT. It’s long, it’s about 110 pages and it’s not exactly light reading. However, I think it’s a great document and could be effectively used as a framework for early childhood practices. Still, my favorite part of the ELECT is tucked right in the middle. It’s a continuum of development. It’s broken down by age groups (which very smartly, overlap) and into the typically identified domains of development, Social, Emotional, Communication (Language and Literacy), Cognitive and Physical. What I’m really happy about is the way that they put this together, it’s written in simple to understand language, it’s easy to read and user friendly, it includes both indicators of the skills as well as sample interactions that would relate to the skill. The whole continuum is put together in a really open and inclusive way. Some skills, such as turn-taking are found in more than one domain, and none of the domains get more attention than the others. I also like that more specific ages weren’t applied to each of the skills, which I think recognizes the path that development follows, without so much emphasis on the “rat race” of development. I think it really values the interconnectedness of children’s development and definitely highlights the importance of supportive interactions and relationships between children and their caregivers.

Anyway, I said all of this to say, firstly, that if you’re in Ontario, or Canada, or anywhere really, you should check out the ELECT, because it’s great. And secondly, that I’m going to let the Elect motivate me on this blog. For the next little while anyway, I’m going to spend some time reflecting on the continuum within the ELECT and share my thoughts and ideas here. In this way, I hope that the ELECT can reach out and motivate or inspire other individuals who work with young children.