Wearing masks – time to reframe our thinking?
Is it time to reframe our thinking on wearing masks in early childhood? Many early childhood teachers have felt nervous about wearing masks in their centres as they wonder about the impact it will have on the children.
If we continue to focus on protecting children’s innocence by sheltering them from the pandemic, we silence difficult emotions and experiences, says Pedagogical Leader Karla Wintle in an article for Community Early Learning Australia (CELA). What’s more, we may be missing crucial learning opportunities.
When the Victorian Government made wearing masks mandatory – but optional with small children – researchers and teachers could tune in to how children thought and felt.
The way young children have reacted has been very open and honest, opening up conversations about their favourite superheroes and how we can stay safe. For young babies and toddlers, seeing people in masks may take time to get used to, as they are so reliant on facial gestures and signals for language development and to feel safe.
As relationships are at the core of early childhood teachers’ work, how does wearing masks change pedagogical practices to ensure every child feels safe and secure? It is reasonable to be concerned about children’s wellbeing, however, there is also the argument that if we shield children from sadness, grief, fear and disappointment, we could be denying them the opportunity to learn about resilience.
Visit CELA for more information: cela.org.au