“There are hundreds of different images of the child. Each one of you has inside yourself an image of the child that directs you as you begin to relate to a child. This theory within you pushes you to behave in certain ways; it orients you as you talk to the child, listen to the child, observe the child. It is very difficult for you to act contrary to this internal image. For example, if your image is that boys and girls are very different from one another, you will behave differently in your interactions with each of them.” – Loris Malaguzzi
Loris Malaguzzi studied fellow theorists such as Piaget, Hawkins, Dewy, Bieber and Vygotksy and along with what the community of Reggio Emilia envisioned for the children and what they believed school should be and what education should be like to create their images of the child.
They took theory, their experience, used reflection and put it into practice.
The Image of the Child is a combination of your experiences + beliefs along with philosophies and child development.
Find a cozy space, grab your fav drink and open your notebook or google doc to work through these questions.
As always, engaging in your reflective practice is needed.
First, let’s go straight to the source and listen to the idea of the competent child from Carla Rinaldi.
It’s important to reflect on the words you use to describe children, how they learn, how you feel about them, how they interact with the world. Whether that is out-loud through conversation or in your head. We know how powerful words are, and taking pause through a non-judgemental lense is important to assess how you currently see and view children.
To start, take some time, close your eyes if you like and think about your childhood. What memories first come up? Observe your memories for sounds, relationships, places, things that are significant.
Write down your memory and what you observed. Ask yourself WHY do you think these memories came up first? Did it elicit emotions or a relationship you cherish?
Take a moment and note what was significant to you. How did these memories, people, relationships, places shape you as a person?
Julianne Wrum, author of Working in the Reggio Way has a series of questions to ask yourself to help build your image of the child.
(Wurm, J., 2005, Working In The Reggio Way – A Beginner’s Guide for American Teachers, pg. 12)
Your experience is valued and needed BUT your image of the child should not and cannot solely be based on your childhood memories. This is where you can miss the mark and the experiences of ALL children can be missed.
Remember the history of The Reggio Emilia Approach® was born out of war and the community, mostly women, wanting true democracy for their children and to experience education in a whole different way.
If I based my image of the child solely on my own personal experience, it does a disservice and many biases based on culture, race, ability, class will continuously be embedded into my practice.
Especially as I am a white, cisgender female who has experienced the world very differently from others.
Embracing The Reggio Emilia Approach® is about putting your beliefs into your context. This means doing research about childhood experiences across all intersections from history to present.
How can you learn about other’s childhood experiences?
Listening to your fellow educators. We are a vast community of people in the early years profession.
Find those who are embarking on this reggio inspired journey, share your image of the child and listen to others. Build relationships with your fellow educators and a community of learning.
Build a strong foundation for your REGGIO INSPIRED PRACTICE with this FREE guide!
Another aspect of building your image of the child is theory and child development. As mentioned earlier many theorists influenced Loris Malaguzzi and how the approach was brought to practice.
Consider what philosophies, methods, theories that influence you as an educator. Do you value social learning and curating a culture that each person brings their own set of experiences and knowledge? This is part of constructivist learning from Vygotsky.
Or how about nurturing the whole child across all domains and valuing the importance of holistic learning. This is from Mary Bieber.
You might be thinking but I already do value and believe this. That is great. You’re putting theory to practice. But to take it deeper, being able to clearly communicate this and know how it is and isn’t playing out in your everyday practice is how you ensure your image of the child is embedded into your role across all aspects.
Your journey of reggio inspired practice is never complete, there is no final destination. It’s never ending. As there is always a new experience of your own or others to consider.
This means that your image of the child is never truly done being formed. As you continue to learn, experience, listen and grow, your image of the child will evolve and reflect the many layers of your journey.
Take a moment and write a statement/reflection on your image of the child. I encourage you to share it in the comments below, as this is how we all continue to learn and grow.
The beauty of this approach, is there is no right or wrong answer. We all respect you where you’re at in your journey and we trust that each and everyone of us will continue to learn and grow.
Once you’ve reflected and created your image of the child, the next step is to also know your images of the educator and families. These go hand-in-hand with your image of the child. Since each protagonist is valued and respected, you cannot have one without the others.
Make sure to download your FREE Reggio Inspired Guide and build a strong foundation of this transformational education approach.
I am an Early Childhood Consultant and very passionate about supporting and inspiring my fellow Educators. I will share my reflections and experiences about implementing my philosophy, views, and ideas into my practice.
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