Sunday, 24 September 2017

Seeing the world from another point of view.

A whole new class of children has begun to settle into the nursery, this year we have 27 three and four year olds and most of them have settled into nursery without too many problems. So far they have only been attending nursery for 2 hours in 2 smaller groups of 13 and 14 but on Friday they all joined up together as one big class and next week they will stay for 3 hours before going to the full time of 4 hours and 45 minutes the following week. 

It is amazing how many new skills they have already mastered and how easily they accept the routine of nursery, so on Friday when they were in a much larger group most took to it  easily. It was interesting to watch them initially playing with the peers they have already met over the past 3 weeks but gradually over the morning they began to mix more and by 11.00 it was hard to imagine they hadn't all been together all along. 

A big rite of passage in the class is when some children discover they can stand up on the outdoor seat to see over the fence into the wider world that lies beyond the nursery playground. For some it is a matter of being able to see the 'big school' where they have siblings attending, others might spot 'God's House' as there are several churches visible in the nearby town, others will recognise the sports pitches above the school where older siblings go to play in a local football team.

However, for me the biggest new view point for any nursery child is that of a peer, for some it is first time they have come into contact with someone their own age who has just as many opinions and demands as them. In first term, we hear lots of 'But I want it' as the children grapple with the whole concept of turn taking. And it can take some a long time to realise that another child has feelings just a big as them. For me, this is what nursery is all about - developing empathy for others and self esteem for yourself. Some children come into the setting with lots of empathy already whilst others have varying degrees of it or none at all. 

On Friday when they were all one big class, one child who is struggling with separation from his parent was crying and it was interesting to see the others reactions, some were close to crying themselves, some were annoyed by the noise and had no sympathy at all for the child whilst one or two rallied round him and tried to offer comfort - either by physically patting him while he was trying to make sense of the big feelings he was experiencing or by telling him how they missed their parent too. I was particularly impressed by one child, who speaks the same home language as the poor upset child, it was the first time they were meeting and yet this child took time to come over and offer a comforting presence to the upset child. He told me how he was going to be his friend and helped me find things that might help him settle. When it was time for his parent to come back, she was so happy to hear that her child had had another to help him deal with his big emotions. 

I look forward to another year of adventures with the class and hope to share some of them with you all through this blog. 

Here is an article I came across about how to help a young child develop empathy: