What Can You Learn From A Newborn Photograph?

It’s amazing how social media can keep us connected. At the end of the school year, as I said many “goodbyes,” I connected with one of the moms in our class. She was pregnant and due at the end of the summer. I’ve now taught two of her kids and have definitely formed a connection with her family. As she was leaving, I said that I was excited to see pictures of her new baby. She promised to post some photographs. Fast forward to the end of August, and the baby and baby pictures arrived. Little did I know that her photographs would inspire this post. 

I must admit that babies terrify me. They’re absolutely adorable, but they always look so small and fragile. Holding them is scary, and their cries get to me every single time. Once they approach toddlerhood, I’m good, but with infants, I love seeing the photographs and videos but am reluctant to get too close. This mom, Mair, suprised me with her photographs. Numerous ones capture similar moments to the one below. (A special “thank you” to Mair for letting me share her name and photograph here.)

Now take a moment and look closely. What do you see? Maybe this picture, at first, looks similar to other baby pictures that you’ve seen. There is one significant difference though, and it was true in every single one of her pictures: her children are holding their sibling ALL ON THEIR OWN. There is no additional hand of support. This is even true for the photographs with just one “older child” only.

I can’t help but think about one of my favourite lines in the Kindergarten Program Document, about our view of the child as “competent and capable.” Now think for a moment about what Mair is communicating to her kids through her action of letting them hold their new baby sister in this way. And every single photograph shows these two older siblings handling this newborn with care, with slow movements, and with love.

As I head back to the classroom on Monday, I know that my teaching partner, Carey, and I will be discussing the choices we’re making in the room and how these choices align with our view of the child. Seeing what Mair did though, this also makes me wonder about home experiences.

  • Do you let your child use permanent markers? Adult scissors? Work the tape dispenser on his/her own?
  • Do you let your child help set the table? Empty the dishwasher?
  • Do you let your child use ceramic or glass cups? What about plates? How about knives?
  • Do you let your child clean up spills? Put out the garbage? Sort the recycling?
  • Do you let your child use real tools (a screwdriver, a hammer, etc.)?
  • Do you let your child move a chair? Climb on a chair? 

One Post That Shows How This Independence Is Supported In The Classroom

What are children allowed to do? What are they not allowed to do? How can both parents and educators support and encourage more independence in children? What, if anything, might be stopping you? When we look to include more Favourite Links on our class blog, I wonder if some of them can be around this very topic. Mair reminds us that at times, our actions can speak louder than our words. Her actions here definitely do.


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