Date: 01-04-2020

Interview: Without Care there can be no Edu

EDUCAS aims to create ECEC environments that support children’s development in a holistic way, taking into account the diverse needs of children and families, with special attention to the ones at risk of social exclusion. Three trainings were planned over the course of the project. These trainings bring together researchers, directors, and teachers/practitioners from ECEC centers involved in the project to meet, exchange, and learn together.

Two trainings have already taken place (one in Italy and one in Belgium). A third will take place in Lithuania. The following is part of a series of interviews with those who took part in the first two trainings.

Monica Grenci from Italy works with children aged zero to three. She reflects on how the educare approach has helped her value relationships in her work.

Without care, there can be no edu: Care is the link between the intention of the educator (i.e. the objectives for the child’s growth and development) and the real learning of the child. 

Did the training activities help you in reflecting on your practice? If yes, how?

The training we have carried out so far has led me to give even more value to the relationship. Working with children in the 0-3 age range, it is an essential aspect, but I believe it is a basic element for any 360-degree education professional, from small to young.

Through skills such as listening, empathy, and containment we can support a child in his growth, as well as support his family. An educator becomes a sort of mirror in which the child can see himself again – reread his own experiences and actions.

Without care, there can be no edu: Care is the link between the intention of the educator (i.e. the objectives for the child’s growth and development) and the real learning of the child. 

Did the training activities help you in changing (or planning to change) your practice, in relation to 'spaces' and 'educare'? If yes, in which way?

I was able to reflect on the importance of observation, as a practice. Through reflecting on video-observations, professionals become more able to clarify, to themselves first, and thus also to families, the reasons behind the daily choices they make. This helps everyone understand the “why” behind the work we do.

Compared to the practice, at this time of quarantine for coronavirus, we have tried to understand how to continue to keep children and families hooked.

We had to reinvent a way of relating without being together in person and social networks are helping us a lot. This is both institutionally, through the official Facebook pages of our provider, and in a more informal way, through the parent representatives of each section. We send videos of books being read or songs, reflection suggestions, or suggestions for simple activities to do at home.

They are virtual cuddles, which have the intention of making families “think”, even if from a distance.


Is there an added value in sharing a training activities at the same time with colleagues from your own country and colleagues from different countries? If yes, which one(s)?

The comparison with colleagues from other countries is useful because you come into contact with realities that are very different from their own for habits, culture, ideas of childhood and children, the type of structures available, etc. Each country tells its own experience and its way of working with children and this gives the opportunity to reflect and change, choosing to take what is considered interesting or useful from the other contexts. 

At the same time, discussion with colleagues in one's own country is necessary: ​​educators from the same country, but belonging to different childcare services, reflect together on a reality that is new to them and only partly unknown. In addition to this, within the same country, we stop to reflect on our way of acting because, despite the line of thought and action that lies behind our work, it is the same (both the Italian services that participated in the EDUCAS Project they belong to the same provider). Each educator brings her own experience, her own ideas, her own way of living and developing a specific project. These moments of training and confrontation help to reflect on one's work, on one's own thought, help to question oneself, to open up to new possibilities, help personal and professional and help one to grow. So, we can say, that there has been a reflection on one's own work, within a reflection on the action of other countries.


Is there anything you 'discovered' about your practice thanks to these trainings?

By participating in the EDUCAS Project, I became more aware of the fact that our services for children are focused on the relationship, on welcoming (both child and adult-parent), on empathy, on making the other feel good, and on mutual trust.

The hard work sometimes takes our attention away from reflecting on what we learn in every moment that characterizes our daily lives. During our days with the children, we give support, company, encouragement, and many learnings without realizing it. Through the use of video observations, we will focus more on this, to bring out the learning and to make it evident also to families.

Also, in general, I rediscovered the importance of comparison and dialogue between different contexts. Confronting and listening leads to rereading one’s own action, sometimes standardized and perched on habit.


Which main challenge did you experience in these trainings (if any)? 

During these training courses, I had some difficulties with my elementary knowledge of English. Later, I put the pieces together thanks to the helpful exchange with other colleagues.