UBC Graduate Research

Connecting deeply : educator and child relationships in infant and toddler classrooms Liska, Karen Marie


In this project I examine the importance and value of secure attachment relationships nurtured between an educator and the children in their care. With increasing numbers of infants and toddlers in large group childcare classrooms, the exploration of “how to be with” young children is essential to ensure quality. The classroom environment is a unique context for fostering connection between educator and child, as these relationships lay the foundation for lifelong development. I frame my project in the sociocultural, ecological systems, and attachment theories, and draw from the psychosocial theory and functional emotional developmental levels of the mind theory. I present literature supportive of primary caregiving practices in childcare settings to illustrate how daily care routines afford moments for interactions, where educators can increase children’s engagement and contributions within the classroom. I offer scenarios drawn from my own experiences and practice that reflect relationships happening in the classroom. I conclude that when educators listen intentionally and respond ethically to a child, they are able to honour the child’s uniqueness, opening a space for the child to participate actively in shaping their own care. In addition, reflective and collaborative relations among educators expand their caring repertoire, and that this, in turn, enriches the relationships between educator and children. I recommend to educators that more emphasis be placed on creating moments throughout the day for interaction and connection with children. I also recommend that increased training be available for educators to enhance their practices and promote quality care.

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