There will be children for whom a big “Hello!” and fussing about would be simply delightful, and there will be children who will be silently wishing you would just disappear.
Have you ever been around someone who greets you with a huge “Hello!” every time you see them? Perhaps you love it, you love how seemingly excited they are to see you, how they enthusiastically rush towards you, arms open ready to greet you. Or perhaps, you cringe a little, feel totally put on the spot, and wish that they would just say hi. You could be somewhere in the middle, depending on the day. This big “hello” isn’t always just the initial word either. Sometimes there is a flurry of compliments “your hair looks fantastic! I want that shirt!” and a general gushing that - depending on your personality - you will either love or hate.
And so it is with children. There will be children for whom a big “Hello!” and fussing about would be simply delightful, and there will be children who will be silently wishing you would just disappear.
Think about how you like to be greeted when you go somewhere familiar. Perhaps it is when you arrive at work, or when you step into your hairdressers, or local shop. How do you feel welcomed? What makes you feel “at home” there?
As a sector, we talk so much about creating a sense of belonging for children. We create displays of family photos and encourage children to bring comfort items from home. We hang their artwork and give them their own personal spaces to store their bag and their hat, often adorned with their name and their photograph. What if it wasn’t really about those things though? Sure, they are nice and having your own space and your own identity within a place certainly helps you to feel as though you are meant to be there, but what if it is more than that?
The relationships that we cultivate with children are vital - we know that. We know that it is important that children have the opportunity to deeply connect with the people who care for them.
A long time ago, when working as a casual educator, I made a point of greeting each child and introducing myself to them. I often used a compliment or some sort of “connector” to begin building that relationship: “Those are super sparkly shoes, I need a pair of those” or “I love your Wiggles backpack, my favourite is ….”. It’s kind of like breaking the ice at a party, isn’t it? It’s a little bit superficial, but it gets the ball rolling on making a real connection. When I became a permanent educator, my technique changed. Sure, it still started on that superficial level, but as I got to know a child more, I would ask them how their new dog was going, or if Granny was home from the hospital yet. And, I also was more tuned into their personal preferences - to the child who needed a few minutes to warm up before being greeted, to the child who liked to be wrapped in a big squeezy hug. Just like adults, children have preferences, and when we intentionally work on our relationships with children - on getting to know them, who they really are - we get to know those preferences too. Then, we move beyond that big, generic “hello!” and towards real, authentic relationships with children.
It's not simply enough to record that there is a hazard - there needs to be a process to report that hazard.
The terms "hazard" and "risk" are used quite a lot in early childhood. But what do they really mean, and what is the difference?
Risk assessments can sometimes feel onerous. There are a multitude of experiences, hazards and events that require risk assessing in our early education and care services and the paperwork can feel a little overwhelming at times. But, we want you to think about risk assessments as being a positive thing.