|Children using a timer to regulate turns in the den - all child initiated.|
This is why teachers push for children to be as independent as possible.
I was chatting with another customer about Christmas presents etc. and she was worrying that because her 5 year old was getting a doll & pram she would be a target for others who were getting more grown up presents like iPads & laptops. I thought it was so sad that a 5 year old could be considered too old for toys, I was nodding away in agreement with her as we lamented the loss of childhood and then she said something that stopped my nodding. She commented that once her child had started school last year they had forced her to grow up by pushing for her to be as independent as possible.
This really made me think. As a nursery (preschool) teacher my aim is to make the 3-4 year olds in my class as independent as possible in their time with me - I hadn't ever thought that a parent could view this as forcing them to grow up too quickly.
As we chatted some more & I started to explain that when there are 30 in a class teachers have to have independent children, she then added that she felt staff in schools didn't care anymore as she had seen a child come out of school with their shoes on the wrong feet & jumper on back to front one day.
Again this gave me food for thought, most days a least 3-4 children will go home with their school jumpers on back to front & not because we don't care but because, this shows they put it on all by themselves. We would gently tell a child to swap their shoes over if we notice they are on the wrong feet but again it proves they put them on by themselves.
As I thought about this conversation later that evening it occurred to me that the key to this perspective was that this mother didn't know the reason why these small things were happening.
We hold an information evening in June for all the new parents & during this time I spend quite a while explaining why we want their very small children to be independent. We ask that they wear velcro shoes or slip ons so that they can take their own shoes on & off, in my setting they wear their wellies in the sand & on the forest area & usually there are a minimum of 26 children & 2 adults, so it's not feasible for us to be taking shoes on & off & tying laces for 26 children. I like to think when they are told why, it makes sense to the parents. I also talk about how they will see their child come out of nursery with their jumper on backwards & that it doesn't mean we don't care, it is a badge of honour to be celebrated. I love to hear a parent say to a child with a jumper on back to front 'Oh you put your own jumper on, well done'.
My role as the teacher of young children is to make them independent curious learners, I shouldn't have to be with every child or directing them all the time for the class to run smoothly. There is nothing more rewarding as a teacher to step back & watch a class of young children move around the classroom in a purposeful manner, engaged in learning with little or no adult direction. I love to see a child get the egg timer & set it on a table & negotiate their turn with a particular resource.
When we have students or staff new to the nursery, it can take them a while to appreciate that it does no one any favours if the adults do everything for the children.
On an average day there are 11 learning stations within the classroom & 2 adults so it would impossible to be in control of all areas anyway. I hope that by communicating openly with parents why we do things the way we do, they can understand that we are not forcing their children to grow up but instead equipping them with the tools to be independent, active learners for the rest of their lives.