Flinders is currently participating in the third stage of the Re-Imagining Childhood Project, which focuses on children aged birth to three as citizens with rights. Our research question for this round of the project is; Talking Without Words: How do children enact community through non-verbal communication? As a part of this project, we are collecting data that demonstrates the diverse ways through which children communicate and connect with one another that do not involve verbal language. This requires us as educators to become extremely careful listeners, and to reconstruct our image of what listening looks like. As we are progressing through the process of data collection we are noticing the power of gesture, smiles, eye contact, body positioning and movement. The way our mouth moves, the way our eyes move, the way our hands move tells others many important things about what we are thinking. As we capture children as skilled non-verbal linguists, we are recognising moments that may have been missed before; the way children position themselves as they watch their peers play; the way children use mimcry and imitation as a means of sparking a connection. Over our next few posts we will share with you some moments we have captured so far between children at Flinders. And we wonder, just how much do we tell others without saying a word?
Play is identified as a key context for learning within the Early Years Learning Framework and is one of the foundations on which the Flinders Philosophy is built. Drawing on Shipley’s (2008) definition, the Philosophy states; “Play is voluntary, symbolic, pleasurable, meaningful, active, process-oriented and intrinsically motivated”. The National Quality Standard, which is the basis for assessment and rating for early childhood services in Australia, details the importance of play for children through Quality Area 1: Educational Program and Practice, stating that children should be observed engaging in long periods of uninterrupted play. Play is, therefore, essential to children’s learning and the foundation of all curriculum decision making at Flinders. Play is considered when selecting resources, designing environments, and planning provocations for learning. Periods of uninterrupted play are considered when planning the daily routine. Play is the central context for learning, around which all curriculum decision making orbits. Play requires educators to be intentional in all aspects of their practice, from the way they move and talk, to the way they observe and document, to the way they assess and plan. As many wise people have said, “Play is the work of childhood.” Therefore it is our work, the work of early childhood educators.