Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Speaking Through Body Language

Kathleen Tuite


Tuesday 02 July 2019

Early Childhood Ireland has been working in collaboration with universities in Spain, Italy, Denmark, UK and Croatia on the Horizon 2020 Child-Centred Diversity EU Project. We have developed three online modules which present and discuss child-centredness from a number of perspectives.  These modules are free, and are available to educators, students and those with an interest in early learning and care. You can access the modules by clicking here and then signing up to the Plymouth open learning platform. These modules are free and there is no commitment from users, other than checking them out and using them as a way to reflect on the concept of child-centredness.  

One of the modules from our Danish partners, discusses child-centredness from an embodied perspective. Psychologists are increasingly interested in embodiment as a perspective, based on the assumption that thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are grounded in bodily interaction with the environment. This module draws your attention to the implicit bodily communications that define the interactions between adults and children in ELC settings. The module facilitates reflections upon these interactions and how they may enable or constrain child-centredness.

Through videos and questions, the module encourages you to reflect upon your practice, it highlights that pedagogical practice is not only what you say, but also includes what you actually do, what you express with your body as you interact with children ‘embodiment’. One of the videos in this module uses the ‘still face experiment’ (you will see this video when you log on to the module platform), to show how the adult’s bodily expressions directly influence the way a child makes sense of the situation. You are asked to reflect on ‘what happened when the Mother didn’t respond to the child?  We can see that the ‘child started to reach for the mother’ and the child becomes frustrated with no response from the mother. In this module it highlights that studies show that babies become distressed when their previously very engaging mother suddenly sits very still and puts on an immobile, neutral face (Tronick et al. 1979). You can read more about this when you log on to the platform.

Research in this area, tells us that people can’t help 'speaking' to each other through body language such as gesticulations and expressions. However, we usually don’t pay much attention to this, even though it has a great influence on how we get along together. Children tend to be particularly sensitive and receptive to the body language of adults, because adults' expressions and actions hold a certain authority/power. Children learn a lot about what things, practices or events should be valued and desired by observing the way adults manage their world. This is really important to consider when we work with young children.

Furthermore, the affective strength and energy that adults invest in their activities seem crucial to whether children become attracted to these or not. This suggests that emotions should not primarily be localized within a single individual but should rather be conceived as a ‘phenomenon’, that emerge from the space of body-to-body transactions between interacting partners (Fuchs, 2016). Thus, influencing the affective dimension of the pedagogical environment through bodily expressions and actions seems to be an important practice by which educators create environments that comfort, engage and inspire children. This is further explained throughout the module.

For early learning and care educators, this module encourages you to reflect on your practice, to think about creating environments that comfort, engage and inspire children. How important it is to be aware of the way you meet the child, considering both the verbal and non-verbal interaction.

Please do visit Plymouth open learning platform and explore the module. We’d love to hear what you think!


Kathleen Tuite holds an MA in Early Childhood Studies and works for Early Childhood Ireland as an Early Childhood Specialist. Kathleen’s work includes offering advice, support and mentoring to Early Years Educators, teachers and students. Using the National Frameworks, Kathleen offers training across all areas of Early Years Practice and last year became a Marte Meo Colleague Trainer.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Identity and Belonging(3) EM Standing(1) Environment(2) UN(1) Rituals(1) grandchild(1) Exercise(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Motor neuron disease(1) ERASMUS+(3) Trade union(1) Mud kitchens(1) Self-regulation(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Thinking(1) Autism(3) Buddy Bench(1) Early Years(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Universal Design(2) environments(1) Impact(1) Cognitive development(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Albert Einstein(1) Syria(1) Vertical grouping(1) documentation(2) Wendy Lee(2) Budget 2018(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Window(1) Mealtimes(1) role playing(1) MECPI(1) learning(15) Touch(1) Laugh(1) Sustainability(3) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Meal time(1) early years research(1) Norway(2) Learning Stories(7) Learning journals(1) Health(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Maynooth University(1) Design(1) parents(5) Communications(1) Orla Kenny(1) Children(1) Workplace Relations(3) Policy(2) Identity(4) risk(2) Self Help Skills(1) Vietnam(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Reggio(1) Belonging(3) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Thank you(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) dining experiences(1) Xbox(1) MA(1) Maria Montessori(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Running(1) Little Buddies(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Malaguzzi(1) Spiders(1) Wrapping paper(1) Grief(1) Family(1) Educators(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) National Pyjama Day(1) Wilenski(1) Awards 2018(3) curriculum(5) Magic(1) Behaviour(3) Limerick(1) Scéalta Blog(79) Socioemotional development(1) Sculptures(1) Afghanistan(1) EECERA 2016(1) Smiles(1) Dance(1) GDPR(1) Challenges(1) Mixed age groups(2) listen(1) Music(3) Sweets(1) Nutrition(1) Traffic Lights(1) Fabric(1) Christmas Creativity(2) ECCE(6) Childhood(1) Creative(1) Academics(1) Meet the Members(1) Mark Twain(1) Potential(1) Magda Gerber(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Favouritism(1) Performance Management(1) Drawing(2) Awards 2019(1) science(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Snacks(1) Feeding(1) Twitter(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Scents(1) Early Years Educators(1) memories(1) Names(1) College(1) Kids Own(1) Jenga(1) Communicating(1) Research Seminar(1) interacting(2) Facebook(1) Recycling(2) Party(1) Japan(1) ICBN(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Learning Story Awards(1) Patterns(1) conversations(1) Anxiety(2) PIP(1) Arithmetic(1) Graduate(1) Sport(1) overhear(1) Trick or treat(1) Routines(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Gratitude(1) Relaxation(1) friendships(1) Gardening(1) Italy(1) Inclusion(3) Bereavement(1) Mathematicians(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Upcycling(1) Book Club(2) dublin(2) Ariana Pucci(1) Glitter(2) refugees(1) First 5 strategy(1) AIM(2) Inspired Practice Award(5) Investment(1) Children's Rights(1) scéalta(25) Builders(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Flowers(1) Montessori(2) Easter(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) transitions(9) Santa(2) Childcare(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) routine(2) Adoption(1) Oireachtas(1) CPD(1) Lego(2) Brain(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Shoes(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Masterclass(2) Leprechauns(1) Workplace well-being(1) Horizon 2020(1) social media(1) Pen green(1) trust(2) Snack Time(1) Care routines(1) Recycle(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) preschool(2) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Photographs(1) SPICE Framework(1) feisty(1) Kerry(1) early childhood educator(1) DCYA(4) Creativity(4) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) toddlers(3) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Awards(2) RIE philosphy(1) Buddies(1) Magnavacchi(1) Event Guide(1) NAEYC(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) play stories(1) Technology(2) San Miniato(4) Pobal(1) Winter(1) Mount Everest(1) Seas Suas(1) supportive environments(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Appreciation(1) CIT(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Pobal sector profile(1) food(1) National Awards 2018(2) meals(3) Independence(1) outdoor space(3) Affordability(1) Community involvement(1) Engineering(2) Iraq(1) National Awards 2019(1) eating(1) Mindfulness(2) risky play(2) First 5(1) San Minia(1) Child mental health(1) Exit interview(1) Primary School(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Training(2) Wonder(1) Teamwork(1) Celebrate(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) emotions(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Art(6) Advocacy(1) experience(1) Thanks(1) Diversity(1) Funding(1) Arts(1) Budget 2019(2) Engineers Week(2) Laughter(1) Treasure Chest(1) Trigonometry(1) TOY Programme(1) Learning Story(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Confident(1) Aistear(103) risk assessment(1) Consent(1) Interests(1) United Nations(1) Playdough(1) Síolta QAP(1) Weather(1) Line-ups(1) Workforce(1) communication(4) development(8) dogs(1) Maths Week(1) IGL(1) Self-Esteem(1) STEM(2) outdoor play(6) Shapes(1) Map(1) Snakes(1) Family wall(1) Decision Making(1) Body Language(1) Empathy(1) Graduation(1) Care-giving routines(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Well-Being(6) ReCreate(2) Síolta(98) Story(1) journey(1) stories(2) emotional environment(1) Mantra(1) budget(1) Exclusion(1) NCCA(2) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Giraffe(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Academic Skills(1) Titles(1) Traditions(2) blog(28) relationships(12) Sequins(1) education(2) Love(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Decisions(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Celebrations(4) Our Little Seed(1) Painting(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Siolta blog(2) Light table(1) Halloween(2) Margy Whalley(1) Stress(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Plastic(1) Mo Scéal(1) University(1) Playschool(1) Ceremony(1) Degree(1) Maternity Leave(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Biting(1) Supernanny(1) Online(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Penguins(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Wesco(1) Games(1) Professionalisation(4) UNCRC(1) Role play(1) Cork(1) Interactions(1) Qualifications(1) child-centred approach(1) Change(1) bonds(1) Capable(1) Breathing(2) ECEC(1) Settling in(2) worries(1) Sustainable(1) Inter-generational learning(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) maternity health(1) pets(1) Visual Impairment(1) Frustrations(1) research(6) INTO(1) Valentine's Day(3) Loss(1) Obesity(1) Maynooth(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Employee(1) The Jelly King(1) animals(2) Children's Research Network(1) Death(1) christmas(8) educating(1) educarer(1) Social Skills(1) under 3's(3) Imagination(3) linc(1) Through the looking glass(1) Arlene Forster(1) outdoors(3) Time Out(1) Blocks(1) Kilkenny(1) ears(1) Performing(1) Queues(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Inter-generational(1) Exploring(1) curiosity(3) Craft(1) reading(4) Nonverbal(1) Leargas(1) books(4) dining(1) Interaction(1) Mental Health(3) Time(1) Administrative Burden(1) Visitors(1) babies(6) planning(1) Irish(1) Fantasy play(1) Maths(4) New Appointments(1) Culture(2) Mayo(1) mushrooms(1) Certificate(1) Plants(1) science week(2) Prexit(1) respect(4) Inspirational(2) Quality(3) play(29) Treasure(1) Positivity(1) baby room(1) Eritrea(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Trade Unions(1) National Holiday(1) Competent(1) Storytelling(2) Yoga(1) Home Corner(1) listening(1) story time(1) community(5) AsIAm(1) UD(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine