Developing a sense of belonging is crucial for children to feel secure and loved both in family relationships and the larger community. The following article provides strategies on how Educators can help in developing a child’s sense of belonging.
Within early childhood, a child’s sense of belonging can relate to how comfortable a child is within the setting, having a sense of trust and security with childcare professionals. When a child has a sense of belonging they are more confident, feel more secure, be more creative and more likely to explore the world of learning.
- Get to know the child as an individual. Call them by their names when you first see them in the morning or bid goodbye at the end of the school day. Even if the child does not know your name or that of other staff, addressing them with their names makes them feel noticed and loved in their own right.
- Find out the interests of the child, what toys or tools they love playing with or materials they are wary of handling. Unlike adults, toddlers or young children may not be able to appreciate your efforts but they are sure to feel reassured by your genuine attention. This in turn will help them feel more comfortable in the classroom environment and create a sense of owning the learning space. Additionally, getting to know your learners will help you tailor classroom activities according to different aptitudes and intelligence
- Put in place enabling structures like routines and schedules. Letting them know that right after arriving at the centre, they can look forward to a greeting game or that they need to tidy up after playtime will help them anticipate actions and be aware of boundaries. Knowing what they are expected to do according to a predictable sequence of events makes children feel secure.
- Allow children to have as much adult interaction as possible. This will not only provide opportunities for children to learn desirable behaviour modelled by you or other adult staff but also significant moments of rapport formation. As you smile and sing and laugh with your little learners, you will be weaving bonds of reassuring and loving relationships on to which they can fall back when they need help.
- However, interaction with children will be meaningful only when it is mediated with sensitivity. Children vary widely in their needs and dispositions as well as cultural and family backgrounds. This makes it even more imperative for educators to be acutely aware of what works with which child if kids are to grow up with stable and secure selfhoods.
- Finally, look for ways you can integrate learning experiences with the wider community. Host Culture Days or Grandparent Meets so that children feel proud of introducing their families and traditions to their class. Explore parks, zoos and museums on school trips. Invite public service personnel or different professionals to speak to your learners so that they get an idea of how many different people are involved in keeping them safe and loved.
Belonging, Being & Becoming Concepts Of The EYLF - The following article explores the three concepts, Belonging, Being & Becoming, that represent life and living and how they are constantly referred to throughout the EYLF.
Sense Of Belonging, Stepping Stones SA