The Act and Gift of Listening: A Reflection…


Years ago, our two Toddler Teams, Nicole, Laura and Tanya in particular, began an inquiry into the Hundred Languages of Children. It was one of our early encounters of coming together to collaboratively rethink, and was a significant moment in our journey.

Together we thought deeply with the Pedagogy of Listening and began to think and rethink with these ideas. It drew our attention to the extraordinarily varied Languages that the group of children in the Toddler Programs at the time presented. We began to consciously notice them; to see them in a new light. We invite you to re-visit with us some thinking from the summer of 2016…

Listening With Our Ears, Our Eyes, Our Hearts and Our Spirits:

Listening is a delicate interpretative dance between adult, children and the environment. Listening helps us respect the voice of the child, guiding the process; suggesting when to step back, move in, add an idea or just share quietly in the presence of the child.

Listening brings us to the moment, each moment as a valued and honored exchange. Listening slows us down, our thoughts, interactions and allows for interpretation of what is needed. It is in these moments that we can truly appreciate and celebrate the Hundred Languages of children.

This reflecting on the Pedagogy of Listening lead us to slow down, to listen to each child’s expression through their various Hundred Languages. This created space for us to interpret the ideas, ways of being and spirits they were sharing with us. We invite you to continue re-visiting our thinking from 2016…

Over the last year, the Toddler programs have explored listening to the Hundred Languages of children. Each child is viewed as an individual with unique gifts, talents and expressions of their inner self. We have observed the children in deeper ways, trying to understand them and how they come to know and understand their world; trying to Interpret the Spirit of the Child. 

We have seen predominant Languages in some children, Languages they often use to express themselves. Other children we are still getting to know and understand. Ellee*, Aaron* and Pete* have inspired us to look deeper at children as they have revealed to us their passion, their spirits, their Hundred.

This act of listening speaks to the values we want to share with children. The belief that they are respected, honored and celebrated for the Hundred. That we as educators trust in their capabilities, the environment, ourselves and the process of learning. Listening is not a passive act but a strong expression of the values and beliefs we hold as educators. We may even call it sacred.

In 2016, after rethinking the Pedagogy of Listening and the Hundred Languages together, as a team we created the following passages, capturing our interpretations and understandings of the spirit of each child…

The act of truly listening speaks to children. It says I see you, I honor;

the runner, the artist, the musician within you…

Running through the hills, a peaceful dance with wind, grass, sun and open sky. Alvin is a spirited choreographer of his movements. In these moments, he is free, free to express and free to be. Joyfully leaving behind footprints of his spirit. Enter my world, embrace and share, follow me and together we can run, chase, and feel the wind through our hearts. Painting the space with his mind, body and soul, Alvin becomes an interpreter between the environment and the children.

A beautiful tactile expressive artist. Paint comes within from Lily on to the palette, pouring from her soul onto her masterpiece. The paint, the canvas, a beautiful example of how paint meets as an expression to self. The colours,  and textures meet within her hands, sensorial yet deliberate. A true extension and expression of her soul. Creative expression, a true reflection of Lily as a creative giving spirit.


Peter’s language is one of sound, a sound narrative touching his heart, coming from his soul. Peter feels sounds, sees music, and, loses himself in the rhythm, beat, and music he creates. His rendition of sound patterns permeate though our playground reaching the hearts of other children, beckoning to “come, hear, feel, and see the music within me.”

Allowing ourselves to pause, notice and see beyond the traditional manner of objective observation, changes our connection with the child. It holds space for us to interpret; to give ourselves permission to be subjective and to dance alongside the spirit of the child. 


“….a willingness to question all your own abilities, your knowledge, to become humble. Only then will you be able to listen to the child, to set off on a common search, to ‘educate each other together’.”

-Loris Malaguzzi


*Children’s names have been changed to protect their identities.

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