Respect is identified as one of the attitudes that should be promoted as part of the Primary Years Program. It is also an important value within the ELC. Defined as a ‘due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others,’ we know that it is essential to support young children to learn and understand what respect looks like. Initially young children are egocentric, only able to perceive their own needs. As they begin their ELC journey, they become increasingly able to learn about the rights and feelings of others. Respect then becomes a way of treating or thinking about ourselves, something, or someone else.
Our ELC educators support the children to learn about respect as it builds trust, safety and a sense of wellbeing for all. Each time we closely listen to a child with interest and respond to their questions, comments and stories, we model respect and alert the children to how important it is to take turns to talk and listen to one another. Every time we encourage the children to pack away materials and look after them carefully, we are helping them to take responsibility and show respect for their classroom resources. As we learn about plants and animals we are developing a respect and appreciation for the natural environment.
When altercations and disagreements occur over the sharing of toys or the way in which the games should be played we do a number of things including: support the children to consider what happened; discuss how the other person might be feeling; consider what needs to be done to make the situation right and the positive actions that could be taken to rectify the concerns. This reflective and restorative practice assists the children to live and play respectfully with one another. Rather than always resolving situations for the children, we empower them to develop their own techniques and strategies for managing conflict in a respectful manner.
Encouraging the children to assert themselves in a fair and courteous manner enhances their self-respect as they realize that they are capable and competent members of the ELC. Perhaps the ELC children will become future leaders and mentors as they become respectful members of their communities.
Mrs Sue Eden
Director, Early Learning Centre