Our expectations of little people are huge. Imagine yourself learning a new skill, would you expect to learn it just like that? or would you practice repeatedly, breaking it down into smaller chunks until successful? Personal interests allow us to immerse ourselves in a project, how can we ensure our children are afforded this? Early years providers can create an autonomous individualised learning program which embraces the uniqueness of each child; by sharing this approach with parents and others we can make a change.
Preparing for the future that we do not know about is difficult and tricky. A term often heard is that of ‘school readiness’, the conception of this can be misunderstood, some still believe that if a child cannot write their name correctly or follow a line of dots that they will be disadvantaged in their early school years. Early years professionals value the importance of personal, social and emotional development as the basis for learning; how we react to others and self-regulate our behaviour has much impact on our learning. Let’s remember happy children learn, and happy children play. Where did this fascination with what ‘next’ come from? Nursery prepares for primary, then for secondary and then for many, university. Once this is complete we can be ‘now!’, only then is that allowed! We can be an adult but what happened to being a child?
This is not to say that little people should not have aspirations or ambitions but being asked about what they want to be in 20 years is as abstract as asking a 40-year-old which residential home they would like to live in?
When showing families, the natural play spaces created at D-Dee’s, we remind them of how they felt as child, how the chance to immerse yourself in uninterrupted play evokes happy memories, develops a love of learning and this is what we want to create for our little people. Core memories that last them a very long time, and give them a respect and love of play that they can pass on themselves. Adults explore the world with children, our educators actively seek wonder and awe with our children and not for them.
When we do ask our little people the question ‘What do you want to be?’ we hear replies such as ‘I want to be outside in the rain’, ‘I want to be a spaceman’ and‘ I want to be on the bikes’. All is good in the world.