Through an Infant’s Eyes

by Heather Fox, Education Specialist, 

Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

I recently attended Boulder Journey School’s 2012 Summer Conference, Collaboration in a School Community: Contemporary Conversations Surrounding Early Childhood Education, and returned filled with inspiration and ideas.

Bonnie Neugebauer, Co-Founder and Director of Professional Development, World Forum Foundation and Managing Editor, Child Care Information Exchange ended the conference with a provocation. She gave each person a package of Black Jack Gum and a challenge – take the ideas shared and make them stick. This is my attempt to hand you a stick of gum, tell you something I learned and make it stick.

With a philosophy of education inspired in part by Reggio Emilia, The Boulder Journey School has a national and international reputation for leadership and professional development in early childhood education.  At this school, teachers are seen as members of a community of learners, each having their own focus for research.

I was particularly intrigued by the research shared by the infant teachers. They asked themselves, “How can we better communicate the value and power of the infant experience?” After a year of careful observation and documentation they made the following recommendations.

Slow it down. Record the infants during play and watch the video clips in slow motion. Slowing down the infants’ movement helps to see the details and get a better understanding.

Zoom in with your camera (and your observations) on the children’s hands and feet.  At this age, sensory exploration happens with all parts of a child’s body especially the hands, feet and mouths.  Use “Color Splash” or other photo editing applications to highlight the important sensory details.

Photograph from the infant’s point of view. Get down on the child’s level and focus the camera on what you see the child seeing.  This creates a concrete visual image of what the child might see. The photo above is a lovely example taken in an Infant/Toddler Certified Nature Explore Classroom.

Write a journal. Use a journaling style when writing about a child’s experience. Teachers found that writing in this style gave them the freedom to describe the experiences in full instead of focusing only on one aspect of a child’s development.

The infant teachers and the school’s Atelierista found that using these forms of documentation helped them to better communicate the value and power of the infant experience.  This reminds me of Magda Gerber and her recommendation to see the world through the baby’s eyes.  Now I’m going to challenge you to take one of the ideas from the teachers at Boulder Journey School and make it stick. After you try it, post a photo or comment. I guarantee it will help you see with new eyes.