Children's Week 23 - 31 October 2021
Children’s Week is an Australian national celebration that recognises children’s talents, skills, achievements, and rights. The theme for this year’s Children’s Week draws from Article 15 of the United Nations Convention on the child’s rights;
Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others.
REAIE recognises children as agentic, active citizens and advocates for democratic educational contexts where relationships are valued.
“Recognising the child as a citizen makes it necessary to re-examine the very concept of citizenship, but especially to revisit the organisation of all the social and educational places of children’s lives, not only early childhood centres and schools but also hospitals, theatres, swimming pools, the town squares and streets, the architecture of our homes. We must re-conceptualise participation and democracy itself” (Rinaldi,2013, p.18).
Children’s Week is an opportunity to reflect our image of the child and their right to choose their friends.
Critical reflection is a value and a process, and the past two years, the pandemic impacted educational landscapes and necessitated responsive practices and a total rethink of education. Who is the child? And, What is education for? are pertinent questions posed by pedagogues in Reggio Emilia for us to consider and reconsider. What educational strategies do we need to create to respond to the contemporary child in a contemporary world? How do we connect and reconnect in a world that has been so disconnected?
The principle of organisation in Reggio Emilia is “a structural part of the values and choices of the educational project, (ICPIMRE, 2010, p.13) and is a great starting point for thinking about how to support children to foster relationships and friendships with others. There are many strategies to think about, including curating the physical, affective and temporal environments, specifically the value of small groups in Reggio Emilia. “The option of working in a small group (where they can build things together) is enjoyable for children and also for us (Hoyuelos, 2013, p.234). Small group work is one of the most practised organisational dimensions as it offers opportunities for interactions, conversations, the spirit of collaboration, recognition of identity, emotional connections and relationships. Small group contexts assist with our observations and critical reflection on how friendships develop between children.
Critical reflection questions to guide your observations:
- “How do children look for other children?
- Do they really look for others?
- How do they get to know others intimately?
- How do they learn about other children?
- What are the ambiguities and contradictions that the child has to live with when he assumes he has reached a certain cognitive level but has to face the image he had, yesterday, of a friend, to the image he has of the same friend today?
- And how do children communicate with each other? What does the word communicate mean? What strategies do children use when they communicate?” (Hoyeulos, 2013, p.236).
Infant-toddler Centres and Preschools Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia [ICPIMRE]. (2010). Indications: Preschools and infant-toddler centres of the municipality of Reggio Emilia. ICPIMRE.
Hoyuelos, A. (2013). The Ethics in Loris Malaguzzi’s Philosophy. isalda, Reykjavik.
Rinaldi, C. (2013). Re-Imagining Childhood: The inspiration of Reggio Emilia education principles in South Australia. https://reimaginingchildhood.com