I love the title of Julie Fisher’s latest book, Interacting or interfering? This sums up for me the tightrope that we Early Years practitioners walk on a daily basis. Is it just me or have you ever tried to engage with a group of children who are playing, for example in the role play area, and the children look at you as if you were very strange and immediately the play stops? I guess when this happens, I am interfering rather than interacting! Julie talks about continuing the learning momentum. When we interact with children, we want to do just that and keep the learning moving forward, not screech to a halt!
Here are a few ideas of how to be sensitive to children in our interactions:
- Observe children closely and pay attention to their language, interests and fascinations
- Tune in to what they say, their body language and interactions with others
- Comment on something that they are doing or can relate to
- Get down to the children’s level, or lower, as this will be non-threatening to them
- Use positive body gestures, facial expression and eye contact
- Consider your tone of voice and the volume that you use
- Be warm and affectionate in your interactions
- Listen to and respond sensitively to the child, with empathy
- Offer opportunities for children to be involved in decision-making
- Value what children say and do
- Be trustworthy and show genuine interest in the children and their activities
- Effectively promote secure attachments through building up close relationships with your key children
- Spend time with the children and enjoy their company!
The key is to know your children really well and build up strong, positive relationships which will allow you to be a better judge of how and when to intervene successfully. If you use what you know about children’s interests and fascinations as a starting point, then you can plan interesting, exciting activities that will intrigue the children and motivate them to participate.
Follow these simple rules of engagement:
E – Empathy
N – Non-threatening
G – Gesture
A – Attunement
G – Genuine interest
E – Encouragement
M – Mutuality
E – Empowerment
N – Nurture
T – (Quality) Time
About the author
Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.