We Steal the Ninety-nine

Recently I attended a literacy seminar by Childcare Answers for childcare providers in my home state of Indiana. While sitting in on one of the classes, they showed us this video.  As a Family Childcare Provider and Mother, I related so much to the poem, The Hundred Languages,  by Loris Malaguzzi.  Loris Malaguzzi is the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education.

I realized, how often do we remind our children to “use your words”? Yet we forget that children communicate to us in so many ways, not just their words. Witnessing the wonder of the child, with everything new and fresh and exciting, is part of what I love so much about childcare. Frequently, in our efforts to teach and help our kids grow up into brave, kind, respectful, thinking adults, we squash the 99 different ways children communicate with the world. We steal the ninety-nine. We unintentially squash the youth and innocence, the explorer in the child, when we tell them to hurry up, be careful, listen to what I’m telling you, please follow direction.

The Hundred Languages is a wonderful reminder to slow down and embrace the 99 other ways children communicate and explore with us, and with the world.

The Hundred Languages

-Loris Malaguzzi (translated by Lella Gandini)
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach.

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.


A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

baby, hundred languages, birthday, breastfeeding, breastfeeding world, childhood, first year, memories, motherhood, parenthoodThey tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

the hundred languages, child development, breastfeeding worldAnd thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

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Lauren Lewis
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Lauren Lewis

Early Childcare Educator at Lauren's Little Ones
Lauren Lewis is no stranger to childcare development, having spent over 10 years as a nanny or family childcare provider. She's the wife of a travel geek, mother of two vivacious children, and has an amazing talent for trailing lost things behind her a la Hansel and Gretel.Her passion for lifting up women and advocating for children pours out in her work as a Central Indiana Event Coordinator, Writer, and Social Media Relations Director for Breastfeeding World.Her life is full of busy, crazy and LOUD. It is full of love and hope, ups and downs. And coffee, always lots of coffee- but she wouldn't have it any other way.
Lauren Lewis
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