Where there’s a will…
Having attended 2 conferences this week (it’s been a busy one), I brought home a few messages, a couple of which, in particular, stick with me. From the Grounds for Learning conference on Striking a Balance when Managing Risk came the thought that we need to provide our children with the risk and challenges that they need to allow emotional development. Our teens are struggling with the pressures of modern life, bullying, exam stress, eating disorders to name a few. Perhaps by allowing our younger children to develop the emotional benefits of confidence, self-esteem, self awareness and resilience among others that risk and challenge bring then they will be better equipped to deal with the pressures of life when they hit the teenage years.
The Early Years Scotland conference key note speaker was Ferre Laevers and he provided a real pause for thought for me when he said that we cannot change a child’s IQ. He suggested that we can’t make or teach a child to be more or less clever. I’m still trying to get my head around that one but my understanding is that, despite all the resources we can provide to support learning, if the child is not feeling predisposed to learning then its not going to happen. As early years professionals Prof Laevers considers, we can influence how a child feels – we can provide the environment and support systems they need to allow them to develop the emotional skills, the self-esteem, the confidence, the ability to develop relationships – all of which will work towards building the motivation and resilience a child needs if they want to learn.
Thinking about these messages in tandem, it strikes me that, while education on the face of it seems to be all about teaching literacy, numeracy, science and technology, what is really necessary is for us to allow children to develop the emotional and social skills. Its almost as if these have been overwhelmed by academia and yet, without them as a foundation, the academic structures we try to build seem a little precarious.
This week our playgroup moves to the woods where we aim to provide our children with challenge and risk as well as some fun, hot chocolate and biscuits. In our beautiful part of Scotland our children are not short of exposure to the natural environment but this opportunity to mould and shape their own experiences in it will hopefully provide our children with the sound social and emotional foundations that will support their academic learning.
It seems a bit like Karma that a blog post from Juliet Robertson popped up at the top of my news feed this morning – particularly when I see it was actually written in 2012. The post is titled “we are the influencers” and elaborates how with the right amount of motivation and belief in something then change can happen. In our playgroup change is happening and its very exciting!
Juliet’s post ends with a lovely quotation from Margaret Mead and while we may not be trying to change the world I think its still appropriate –
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever does.”
Posted on October 2, 2016, in Jane's Blog and tagged childcare, children, children's play, children's well-being, ferre laevers, grounds for learning, i'm a teacher get me out of here, juliet robertson, outdoor learning, risk and challenge, risky play, Woodland Play Sessions. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.