School Matters because of RESPECT

By Emily Hays 2019-06-24 15:02:39

Three principles of Early Education - Family, Community and Respect

I genuinely believe I have the most important job in the entire school. As an early childhood teacher I do not prepare them for the next grade I do not simply prepare them for the next place they are going to be. I prepare them for life!

This fall I had training in the Reggio Emilia Approach, which was originally inspired by Loris Malaguzzi and his thinking about children. Being there in an immersive environment which has such a great appreciation for aesthetics, really had an influence upon my educational values.

I feel an important value that I impart is that of respect. It is more than just feeding a child’s brain but recognising that child as a whole person and helping them to understand their place in society and their place in their first community. I allow the children to begin to have a sense of their identity and help them develop that sense. This comes through a wide spectrum of activities through communication and the arts and through the current theme of family in which children begin to talk and share the beauty of their loved ones.

The value of respect is not just about a teacher’s relationship with the students but also about them developing a mutual respect for others. At three they are very egocentric beings, this is why helping them to understand society and community is so important. Cognitively they have difficulty with things that we as adults take for granted, like sharing and comprehending the concept of object permanence. In class I help them progress from a slightly egocentric being to one that is respectful of their classmates, and allow them to learn methods to negotiate cooperation and sharing. At this age it is so important to show them how one deals with their feelings. For example when children are learning to share there will be times when they will feel anger towards classmates. I show them that adults like their Mommies and Daddies get angry too and that this emotion is normal but it’s important to learn how to control it. As a teacher I am always aware of how I carry myself and what I say, because I am conscious that I am a role model to them.

As they are orientating into a new world, I aim to reassure them that it is both exciting and also frightening. I share with them that even Miss Emily had butterflies in her stomach the day before school was about to begin. It is that mutual understanding that builds the relationship and relieves their anxieties. Everyday we begin the day discussing different things, sometimes we discuss how we feel through the caring board. The reason for this is that we need to care about others and not just about "me". This empathy for others transcends into our current theme of family and to all areas of learning. Talking about their families and talking about the beauty of their family is one of the ways that I see children widen their scope and become less ego inclined; this develops an awareness of others and their feelings. From here in the theme of family, we transcend to the next theme of ‘community’, which very much interlinks with what we have learned in our family unit.

Once the children become aware of their community and their place within it, it is about reassurance and demonstrating that is natural to feel nervous. Developing their respect for others, sharing stories about our family and building a rapport with the teacher builds their understanding of community.

Essentially it all comes back to the value of ‘respect’. When they come in and flop on me I appreciate that we have begun to build that mutual rapport and I realise just how fortunate I am and that these children are the most beautiful people on earth.


Emily Hays, Early Years Educator

Concordia International School Shanghai