eMessage Archive

Caregiving practicies - baby wraps & mossbags December 17 2019

Early development is shaped by minute-by-minute, day-by-day sensory input: the seeing, tasting, touching and being touched, the sounds and smells of daily life. Much of this happens through daily caregiving routines.

There is a wide variety of caregiving practices around the world, often rooted in cultural traditions and beliefs. In some North American Indigenous communities adults used moss bags and cradleboards so that a baby could be placed on a mother’s back, carried in a parent’s arms, or propped up near family members. In Africa, baby wraps were used by adults, usually mothers, to wrap and carry a baby in order to keep the baby close throughout the day. Many parents and communities still honour and promote these traditions.

The ‘baby wraps’ video is a brief collage of mothers in Mozambique, carrying and interacting with their closely wrapped babies. In the second video, Audrey Fourre, a Family Literacy Facilitator with the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, talks about moss bags and their important role in caregiving.    

What do you see as the functions or benefits of such practices?  Are there similar practices in your family or community? How can you value and respect these and other practices that support the caregiver-child relationship that is so crucial to early development?

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?

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