As an aspiring ECE, and a student planning on pursuing graduate work in the helping profession that is related to child development, I put a lot of thought into creating a personal philosophy statement regarding working with families. Although this particular statement is heavily related to educating, I believe it applies to working with young children across various capacities. I am sharing it here to indicate to my audience a transparent presentation of my values.
Personal Philosophy Statement
My personal philosophy for working with children and families considers the notion that all individuals are competent, curious, capable, and curious life-long learners who are entitled to access to life-long and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities within the context of, and in collaboration with, their community and family (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014). I employ a relationships-based approach while working with children and families and believe that we can all learn from and grow with each other best through our relationships. Further, I highly consider the neurocognitive processes and right-brain to right-brain synchronicity when building these relationships. My personal approach to teaching focuses on the social-emotional readiness for learning and facilitating emergent and responsive key experiences that consider familial and cultural contexts to help children actively engage in their learning in meaningful ways (HighScope inspired). Thus, I believe good teaching employs a wide variety of observational, facilitative, and assessment strategies in order to offer unique opportunities to each specific group of learners to allow them to explore their interests independently.
More specifically, I believe that high-quality teaching practices requires an ebb and flow between: minimal direct instruction (Montessori-inspired); scaffolding for extending learning (constructivist approach); behaviour guidance in collaboration with the learners (HighScope inspired); preparation of the environment to not only act as the “third teacher” (Reggio Emilia inspired) but also to help offer a calm learning environment (Shanker, 2016); monitoring and modifying for facilitating belonging, engagement, wellbeing, and expression (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014); facilitating active engagement with, and investigation of, the learning materials (constructivist approaches); assessing and considering stages of development in program planning (Piaget’s stages and Best Start Panel on Early Learning, 2014); and hands-off supervision during times of exploration, experimentation, and opportunities for logical consequences to unfold (Montessori approach).
Moreover, I execute the Self Reg steps when children are upset (Shanker, 2016) in order to relieve their stress and prepare them for learning. This approach works well, but sometimes requires collaboration others to truly uncover and resolve conflicts. I use the HighScope conflict resolution approach wherever possible (The Active Learner, 2018), which is extremely effective in revolving immediate conflict, but requires substantiable follow-up for resolving on-going tension between individuals. However, both of these incidents and interventions would cause me to reflect on the environmental influences, including the influence of routines and expectations, on the learning space and consider whether there are changes I could make to further facilitate safe, nurturing, supportive, engaging, and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities. Additionally, when considering various developmental and interests of the children in my care, I incorporate physical objects as well as books and pictures that are responsive to (and that sometimes combine) these factors. This process is very trial-and-error based and often requires in-the-moment modifications to ensure appropriate engagement. We may remain on these topics until the children indicate they are satisfied and no longer curious about the topic.
Emergent interests and abilities, play, and inquiry are at the heart of my pedagogical practice and made possible through program plans that are developed based on observation, documentation, and reflections. A circular, rather than linear, view could be used when considering my approach (Stacey, 2009). Further, although ideal programming is child-centered and open-ended, my teaching practice also includes my personal strengths and natural talents, so that I can capitalize on my shared interests with the children, am a present and active co-learner, and form authentic relationships. More specifically, nature-based play, music, expression through movement are some of modes I prefer to use while teaching.