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Listening for Children’s Ideas and Inquiries

with Kerri Embrey and Heather Evelyn

Reggio-inspired kindergarten and school-aged educators, leaders, and consultants


Online Live Session:

October 24, 2020

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (EDT Canada)

Pedagogy for Ecology

We know that listening to children is essential to tap into their creativity and curiosity and to develop strong bonds of connection as we come to recognize their unique identity and ways of knowing. Yet it can be a difficult journey for us as educators to shift our own identity and approach, to become willing to sometimes let go of our ideas about what, when and how children should learn, and tune in to who the children are, the knowledge and experience they bring to us, the questions they are asking. We work to invite conversation so that children learn to seek answers to their questions, to find joy in learning and to investigate relationships with others.

Placing a pedagogy of listening at the heart of our practice is one of the most challenging and also most beneficial things we can do as teachers.

Often when we focus on learning as a set of curriculum outcomes we stop listening to the children and their innate sense of curiosity and wonder, because we are focused on what we think they need to know. The ability of educators to tune in to children in a responsive way is foundational of children’s engagement in learning, their creative expressions and problem-solving, and their empathy for others and the world in which they live. Listening with attentiveness to children’s ideas or theories lets us witness the amazing thoughtfulness and power of their thinking.

What does listening to children look, feel and sound like? How and when do we record and take time to hear their many ideas? Firstly, children need to know that we want to hear their ideas, that we are curious about their point of view and identity. We will explore strategies for listening and ways to harness a research mindset as adults to move forward in our planning. Our goal is to develop an approach that brings us closer to the children we work with so that the learning environment and knowledge is co-constructed in a way that is authentic, engaging and meaningful.

Kerri Embrey and Heather Evelyn are educational leaders who find joy in continually deepening their understanding of the Kindergarten Program using an emergent curriculum pedagogy. Their stories and learning environments bear witness to the transformative power of listening to children’s curiosities, theories, their struggles and their strengths. Their experiences also show that listening to children is the most effective way to help children not only meet program expectations, but to exceed them.

We are privileged to have Kerri and Heather join at Early Learning Café to share their insights and to prompt our thinking about really listening to children.

Who is this Café for?

This Online Conversation will be of special interest to educators in full day learning, and before and after school programs.

This Online Conversation Supports: 

  • The Kindergarten Program 2016:
    Pedagogical Approaches of Learning through exploration play and inquiry; Educators as co-learners; Pedagogical documentation; Reflective practice and collaborative inquiry
  • CECE Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice July 2017:
    Standard 2: Curriculum and Pedagogy

About Our Café Facilitators:

Heather Evelyn is a kindergarten teacher at the Bishop Strachan School (BSS). She began her study of the Reggio Emilia approach with a team of teachers at the school as they explored best teaching and learning practices for young children in 2003. Heather attended the Canadian study tour to Reggio Emilia in 2011 and has recently completed her Ontario Reggio Association Emergent Curriculum Certificate. Over the years at BSS she has continued to study and reflect on this approach and to show her passion about making learning visible. Heather has been able to share her work with visiting teachers during professional development initiatives at BSS and was honoured to present her work in 2018 at Leslie University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kerri Embrey is currently a grade 5 teacher at the Bishop Strachan School. During her Masters Degree she had the honour and pleasure of learning from Dr. Carol Anne Wien; her thesis research focused on listening through aesthetic engagement. While Kerri has taught and worked as a lead teacher in Reggio-inspired primary classrooms for several years, her current practice and curiosity have shifted to engage in a pedagogy of listening with older children. Kerri enjoys opportunities to share and learn from other educators by consulting with schools and presenting at conferences such as National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA). She teaches modules in the emergent curriculum program offered by the Ontario Reggio Association. She is often caught in a state of wonder at the creative intelligence of children and the beauty of the natural world.


Cost: $39 $29