(Image: My daughter, Abbie, wondering, but about what?)
As adults – teachers and parents – it’s nearly impossible to imagine the world of a child. The real question is, do we feel that it possesses enough worth to try and explore? Do we take our children’s inquiries seriously, engaging them in conversations authentically, investigating their worlds, as they investigate ours?
I love what Reggio Emilia educators have to say – that we must actively seek out the worlds of children, not as limited versions of an adult world they will one day occupy, but as a legitimate ‘estate of childhood’ that is as rich and as meaningful as the world we are guiding them towards (Edwards, The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation, 2011). This is a challenge for an adult, a parent or teacher, interacting with a child’s inherent questioning of the world, as we can be tempted to simply explain, to fill the gaps we perceive in their understanding, when we should be taking these valuable opportunities to explore their worlds. It is a subtle, yet very powerful difference in the framing of the conversation with a child.
It seems that we need to be able to ask good questions to support them and above all, we need to be prepared to take the time to consider all forms of their expression, to find out more about their constantly shifting, uniquely personal, and utterly complex childhood worlds.