eMessage Archive

Reflective Practice June 18 2019

Do you use reflective practice in your interactions or work with children? Do you carefully observe children, listen to what they are saying, and pay attention to what they are doing?  Do you take time to marvel in what you notice and thoughtfully consider what you can say or do in response?  Do you gather documentation to study and then share with children and parents?  You might feel like you are constantly thinking, studying, collecting, arranging….. 

The SECD (North American Edition) includes a new section on reflective practice.  Researchers and practitioners share thoughts and insights that can enhance your reflective practice with children. The videos below are just two of many inspiring videos in the updated Communicating and Learning (CL) module. 

Deb Curtis is a renowned expert in the field who has written numerous books and articles on this and other topics. She inspires many with her practical tips and tools about observing and documenting, and how to use loose parts to create invitations for children. She reminds practitioners to slow down, pause and marvel.  In the first video below, listen to her define reflective practice and explain how she applies it to her work with young children.

Christine McLean is an Assistant Professor at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax Nova Scotia. In the second video below she describes the importance of reflection before, during and after….a perspective that is thought-provoking and worth reflecting upon!  In the CL module, McLean also describes a research project on pedagogical documentation and how to encourage children to be reflective about their learning.
Do these videos affirm your current practice?  Or perhaps they inspire you to make a change or try something new.   What steps can you take to ensure that reflection is part of your professional practice with young children?

End of the year message December 31 2018

We frequently receive comments and questions about the extensive collection of videos that brings the SECD resources to life. So, we are taking this opportunity to provide a little background on our video collection, which continues to grow even as we are writing this message!
Did you know that:

  • over 120 researchers/experts have been interviewed?  The first interviews conducted included Dr. Fraser Mustard, Sir Michael Rutter and Dr. Meagan Gunnar. The international perspective expanded with interviews from experts around the globe such as Dr. Kofi Marfo, Dr. Aisha Yousafzai, and Dr. Zulifgar Bhutta.  The most recent interviews conducted were with Dr. Maureen Black and Dr. Michael Skinner. Watch for these and others that will be added to SECD modules in the coming weeks and months! 
  • the SECD team has filmed in ten countries?  Parents, leaders and experts have been interviewed in Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan Tajikistan, the United States, Zanzibar, and of course in many regions of Canada. The SECD team includes skilled and experienced videographers who have produced high quality videos of children and families in a variety of programs and settings.  To see one of the recently added videos, click on “ECD in Chiure district Mozambique.”
  • SECD videos have been viewed all over the world?  The markers on this map indicate countries where SECD videos have been viewed over the past year. 

What are your favorite SECD videos?  In 2018, the most viewed expert video was this Dr. Stuart Shanker clip called “evolution”. The second video is one that we predict will become one of your favorites!    

Children's right to play December 17 2018

Universal Children’s Day is a time to reflect and remind ourselves about the rights of children. 

Children grow up in very different contexts, in families and societies with different values and resources. Views vary about what childhood represents and what children are able to do and not do and how they should be treated.  While the concept of childhood is influenced by a variety of factors, support for the principles of child rights has been almost universally endorsed.

The United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted in 1989. Article 31 of the CRC recognizes the right of the child to engage in play and the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for play.

Play is essential for healthy development.  Play is the vehicle through which children’s learning is best supported.  Although children do play naturally, there is much that adults and caregivers must do to ensure and enhance children’s right to play. 

Throughout the world, there are various efforts underway to promote play.  Many of these are featured in the SECD suite of resources.  The following videos are just two examples.  The first video depicts the universal nature of play through engaging footage from numerous countries.  The second video features a Community Health Volunteer facilitating a play box session at a community health clinic in western Kenya.

What are ways that your community supports children’s right to play?

Expanding our view of children and spaces: 360° Video November 19 2018

Children often charm and surprise with their thoughts, ideas and imaginative play scenarios, which can take some unexpected turns and fantastic plot twists. In fact, sometimes the things children say and do leave us scratching our heads in wonder: that is they challenge us and leave us to wonder “why”. Why did the child say/do that? Why did a situation in which two children are tugging a toy between them come to be? We may not always have a complete picture.
360° video is a new tool that the SECD team is excited to introduce as part of our multimedia inventory. As a tool that allows the viewer to follow the action, 360° video potentially expands our view of events over time and space.  
The featured video below was filmed outdoors of the Kittiwake Children’s Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, using special equipment that allows for 360° viewing. As you watch, use your cursor, or finger on a track pad, to rotate the angle. Follow the children as they fill watering cans with water. Where do they go? What might they be trying to accomplish?
What applications can you think of for your context? When you think of the potential for 360° video in relation to your context, is there something that you have been wondering about that might benefit from an expanded view?
N.B. Internet Explorer and many versions of Safari do not allow 360° viewing so you will have to use an alternate internet browser to see this properly (e.g., Firefox, Chrome).
This video is found in the SECD North American Edition in Communicating and Learning, p. 3.2.

Fairness, equity and action July 18 2018

From a young age, children have a strong sense of what is fair. Often, when children witness something that is unfair, they do not hesitate to act on their own behalf, or on the behalf of others. “That’s not fair!” is a common refrain, even among young children.

Equity is a deeper, more nuanced concept of fairness that takes disparities or inequalities into account before action takes place. Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan often uses an image of earth to begin a discussion on the disparities and inequalities of our world. Watch the first video below and listen as he explains the difference between the terms inequality and inequity. Bhutta makes the point that “inequity is an unjust inequality”.
Around the world, actions at different levels--from individual and grassroots community efforts to government priorities and policies—work to address inequities that exist. In the second video, Dr. Martin Guhn, from the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) in the School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columba, reflects on inequity, child poverty, and the power of research to motivate communities to act.
What actions are you involved with or aware of in your community or region? What are some outcomes? How do these actions and outcomes relate to the concepts of equity and fairness?

New content in the SECD April 12 2018

The online format of Science of Early Child Development means we can regularly make updates to the content. Then, every license holder automatically has access to the new information.

New content in the SECD – International Edition includes video footage of children in a variety of settings in Kenya and Mozambique, for example, intimate scenes of children and adults reading books, as well as interviews with experts on a variety of topics from antenatal care and maternal depression to family interventions and rights-based programming.

Listen as Oscar Kadenge, Child Rights and ECD Multi-Sectoral Coordination, UNICEF-Kenya, describes a human rights-based view of child development and child care programming (3:05). This video is in the International Ed, Ecology of Childhood module, p. 1.2 “A child rights” perspective”.

The newest additions in the SECD - North American Edition include engaging footage of children involved in the serious business of negotiating roles, as well as interviews on the topics of risky play, the engagement of, and resources for fathers, and some key findings of  the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) about the well-being of older children.

In the second video (1:59), also related to the topic of child rights, Barbara Kaiser, early childhood consultant, author and speaker, explores child guidance, specifically the role of the adult as teacher in response to inappropriate or challenging child behaviours. This video is in the North American Ed. Communicating and Learning, p. 3.1, “Guiding and teaching”.

How do the perspectives of Kadenge and Kaiser inform our work?

For a complete list of our latest content and where to find it, check out the SECD new content page at https://www.scienceofecd.com/pages/new-content. More updates coming soon!


January 2018 - Temperament & "The Match" February 23 2018

Temperament is an individual difference that influences how we react to situations, interactions and environments. It includes things like activity level, impulsivity, sensitivity and the ability to focus attention. Even identical twins who have identical genes and share the same family and home environment, have different ways of acting and interacting with their world. Understanding temperamental differences has a tremendous impact on caregiving and teaching, as it helps to make sense of children’s feelings and actions.

As parents/caregivers, we also need to consider the influence of our own temperaments and personalities when interacting with children. Does our temperament match or not match the child’s temperament, and then, in each case how might that affect how we interact?

In the first video, you will meet identical twins, Brooke and Leah, who tend to approach life in very different ways. Consider the importance of being aware of each girl’s temperament when interacting with these two children.

In the next video, Dr. Joan Durrant, Child-Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor of Family Social Sciences, University of Manitoba, describes temperament and the importance of parents/caregivers understanding “the match” between themselves and the children that they support.

Have you ever experienced a “mismatch” between your temperament and that of a child? Were you able to accommodate the difference?
For more information about temperament and child-caregiver match check out SECD’s Coping and Competence module.

December 2017 - Ecology of Childhood January 12 2018

Children grow up surrounded by people, places and events that shape their daily lives and future prospects – and everyone’s experience is unique. Consider the various geographical, cultural, sociopolitical and economic conditions that exist around the world. Though their contexts may be very different, children can survive and thrive in widely different circumstances. In fact, humans are the only creatures that can adapt to almost any environment.

The following slide show features images of children from around the world, from Afghanistan to Uganda. As you enjoy the images, consider the wide ranging different circumstances of children’s lives around the world. What opportunities are available and what challenges are present? How are families supported in your context?
In the video, the late Dr. Clyde Hertzman describes some factors that can support families and children. What could these factors mean for a child’s daily life in your context?

View slideshow

Red River College University of Toronto AKDN - Aga Khan Development Network