American mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics in 1948 as “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.”
Throughout this report I will refer to the relationship between the child, practitioners, caregivers and space as a cybernetic system. Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems— in this case, we can say that the system of attachment is the subsystem underscoring communities. Cybernetics looks at the structures, constraints, and possibilities of these regulatory systems.
This is a straightforward way to synthesize what goes on within the child-practitioners- caregivers-setting dynamic and so doing to identify the various key components, with the aim of optimising this system so that the child experiences the highest quality of care possible.
The three main components of this system are the parents or legal guardians, the child of course and the ECCE practitioner. And the relationship between the child and practitioner, as well as the relationship between the legal guardians and practitioner, occurs primarily within the setting, so we can view the setting as the fourth major important component to this system.
In order for optimum functionality to be facilitated within any given system, clear and efficient communicative pathways must be established. This is true whether we are talking about neurons firing signals at each other within the brain or clearly mapped territory along the runways of an airport, and it is true for the early years setting as well.
Fortuitously, there is a wide variety of communicative platforms at our disposal within the modern day and age, so many different ways to relay information from phone text, to phonecall, a social media feed, or a letter. And even within the tried and tested vehicle of face to face communication, there exist a multitude of techniques we may employ to guide our intended information to and from functioning components of the system in question.
What will make the data we are trying to convey have the desired impact on the component in question will be the sum of two important factors – choosing the appropriate methods of communication, and the effectiveness with which we execute the selected methods of communication.
For example, when the parent or legal guardian is communicating their child’s needs, we will select both relational listening, informational listening and critical listening – empathizing with them in order to form a rapport, picking up on the facts relaid so as to best meet their child’s needs and assessing for ourselves the integrity and validity of the information being relaid.
The optimal functionality of the system must be at the forefront of our minds, providing us with a clear trajectory along which to orient ourselves and our choices with dynamic versatility.
Siolta highlights the intentional processing of information, and emphasizes the importance of ensuring data is collected and stored correctly, safely, accurately and accessibly. Ensuring that the regularly gathered information is up-to-date is another vital component of preserving the operational integrity of the attachment system. The connection between home and setting is more secure when parents have access to correct, safe, accurate information about their children, instead of having to rely on the subjective memory of a practitioner.
That is the very simple framework in which a great deal of our experiences as ECCE practitioners will happen – an example of one such experience could be the following,
One notices the child doesn’t have a spare change of clothes after an accident, so (after attending to the child) one records the time of the accident in their log book and then one places that log book back where it belongs after recording the information. And naturally one updates the book when a change of clothes has been provided.
Just as the curriculum is mediated to meet the needs of individual children, how one communicates must also be tailored. – Moyles, 2006.
Communication must be versatile and flexible, and our communication with the children in our care begins the moment they set foot in the setting we have cultivated. Natural light, bright colors, defined areas of interest and cultural as well as familial representation are among factors which signal that this is an inclusive and inviting place.
Siolta emphasises how communication is about more than language – if anything, the words we use finetune a connection founded in eye contact, facial expression, a dynamic selection of listening skills and tone. And on an even more foundational level, empathy, sympathy, kindness, sensitivity and responsiveness.
“Communication is embedded in the child’s social development and is the basis for her relationships with parents, siblings, peers, significant adults, extended family and all the other social relationships she will experience.” – Moyles, 2006.
Through cultivating a sound personal and professional style of interaction, as well as ensuring that the setting, in addition to communicating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, also provides plenty of accessibly opportunities for the children therein to experiment with different ways of expressing themselves, ECCE practitioners can strive to achieve the following;
- To hold an accepting space for the child as they now are, which supports the emergence of confidence and self esteem,
- To support each child in their process of communicating with their environments through varying and appropriate means
Holding an accepting space for the children in our care instills them with the emotional sense of security which is needed to develop a strong sense of self worth, and cultivating a variety of communications skills – from verbal, to gestural, technical, musical, to artistic, etc. – empowers the child on their journey beyond our care, into actively and enthusiastically involving themselves in functionally positive networks of attachment.
The success of the attachment system is measured by the children’s emerging ability to successfully transcend it, and to interact in a mutually beneficial manner within larger systems (the community).
In this way, the attachment system of early years childcare is a subsystem which regulates the social dynamics of communities – which in turn affects and connects most aspects of the communities in question. Contributing to the optimal function of this attachment system is a fundamental avenue for the preservation and support of public health.
Wiener, N. (1948). Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Phillips, Holly. Types of Modern Communication. https://www.resourcetechniques.co.uk/news/web-design/types-of-modern-communication-100244 18 December, 2018.
Types of Listening https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-types.html
Siolta, Research Digest on Communication http://siolta.ie/media/pdfs/Research%20Djgest%20-%20Communication.pdf
Siolta, Childminding http://siolta.ie/childminding_standard12.php