Tuesday, January 29, 2008

early learning

First day back at Kindy today - the children and I spent most of the morning re-learning where things were as the teachers had reorganised the layout over the holidays.

There is now a pianist on the staff so the piano is more prominant, the 'science' and 'art' areas have been swapped over and the blocks are now in a more 'protected' area - ie no longer on the main route through the building and less likely to be disturbed/knocked over by enthusiastic passers by. The outdoor play area has changed in preparation for total renovation.

Of course there were new children who'd moved up from afternoon kindy too.

It was fascinating watching how the children adapted to the new layout/routines, who stuck to old favourite activities/play things despite their new location and those who stuck to the same location but used the newly located resources, plus of course the adventurous types who'll give anything new looking a whirl no matter where/what it is! It was also a salutary lesson to see how I worked with it too! The new teacher was obviously a big draw - the sandpit was the place to be today. It was reassuring for me though to have some of my usual hangers-on seek me out at various times through the morning and want to sit next to me at mat time - it's nice not to be forgotten about over the long summer holidays!

I had very mixed feelings when a girl came over to me to show off the dress-up dress she was wearing. I suspect, given how shyly she approached, that she had been told to come and show me. It was pink, frilly, sparkly, with a smocked top and a tutu-like skirt. Basically something I would never have been seen dead in at any age. It grates against every anti-stereotyping, tomboy bone in my body. Yet I had created this thing. The top had been donated, the skirt material bought by a staff member - all they needed was someone with a sewing machine to put the two together.... as I sat up til midnight last night finishing off the sparkly trimmings I pondered on the irony of me literally losing sleep to finish it ready for the first day back.

But whether I like it or not some little girls want to be stereotype little girls, they like - even love - pink, they like dressing up as princesses ready for the ball or parties - however as in real life there's a distinct shortage of prince charmings around to court them! I saw that dress on at least four different girls this morning, each time I winced and yet at the same time felt pleased that something I had created was being used and had fun with.

As I embark on my studying (I'm classing this blog post as thought processing rather than procrastination...) it's been good to have such a reminder of how my own values affect my practice and attitudes to teaching. I know if there was only one frilly frock in the dress-ups it would get fought over and that having none at all is not the right solution to that no matter how much I'd prefer it! I can appreciate how easy it is to get stuck into a routine of what activities and people are comfortable to be around. I didn't push a single child on a swing today which must be a first and today was probably the first time I've hung out with the 'girly girls' altho' we were playing a pirate memory game it has to be admitted... well it was a step towards their world, but I don't think I'm up to bathing dollies and playing house just yet. And I think the dress-up corner needs some Bob the builder/Wendy dungarees....

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