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Yesterday was the first day of Kindergarten…
…and I was anxious!
Not because of new teachers, or a new curriculum. I worried that she would bluntly tell her new kindergarten teachers, in no uncertain terms, that she HATES school. Because I’ve spent a good three days listening to her whine and complain about school. “All we do is sit in front of the screen. There’s not enough play time.”
THERE’S NOT ENOUGH PLAY TIME. Where is the lie, really? This has been her school experience since March. And I totally understand her frustration.
This is not what school is supposed to look like.
Many research papers that will tell you children should be learning through play. That they should be engaging in activities that promote self-discovery with their hands, their senses and their hearts. They should be outside exploring different elements of nature and walking barefoot in the grass with friends. Play-based learning is best practice in early childhood. Play is the most crucial experience for children in early childhood. Play enhances the healthy development of physical, cognitive, socio-emotional and linguistic skills. Its during play that children acquire the soft skills that promotes positive learning dispositions, such a resilience, self-regulation and independence.
So despite her best efforts, the Wild One does not thrive in a distance learning environment (Does anyone?). Like most children, she asks a thousand questions and likes demonstrate her understanding via concrete representations. And she has the capacity to concentrate for long periods when she’s engaged in play-based and social learning. Thus, the lack of social interactions that come naturally during play in a classroom results in the Wild One being inattentive, distracted, fidgety, bored and even grumpy. And I know all too well her energy is
damn-near maddening frustrating at times.
Oh….how I know.
I appreciate and recognise that teachers are doing their absolute best given the circumstances (and they damn well deserve much more recognition for it!!). Yet, I’m still afraid the Wild One’s natural tendency to explore on her own terms will translate as deviant behaviour. I know for sure she will frustrate them. And that’s okay. I get it, she frustrates me (a lot!) But it’s also no secret that some teachers treat students differently if they perceived them as deviant.
This is my ultimate fear.
Unfortunately, I can’t control how teachers will perceive her. So, whenever I’m feeling anxious, I revisit the two things that continue to guide my own teaching. The first is this quote by Maria Montessori,
”The teacher, when [they] begin work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal [themselves] through work.”
The second, is A Hundred Languages, by Loris Malaguzzi—the founder of my other favourite educational approach, Reggio Emilia— and it talks of the many ways that children express how they develop, acquire knowledge, recognise, and understand the world around them.
As a teacher, I recognised that each child is never exactly alike. Thus, I walked into every classroom with the knowledge that children express their truth through their work. And so, I wholeheartedly trust that my Wild One is simply honing her individual style of learning. A unique and wild style that will guide her to explore, seek and discover the world. And this wild way of learning will cater to her energetic tendencies, impulses, and more important, her inquisitiveness. Because that’s her language.
I hope her teachers recognise and trust it too.