Setting the scene…
Singing seems to be a natural language for children, providing a playful and emotionally satisfying context for building relationships. Everyday we observe the children singing and sharing songs together. Sometimes the teacher suggests songs but the children quickly discover that they can re-invent the songs and innovate them with their own words to create their own which have meaning for themselves or the group. We proposed to the children that they might like to invite their parents to school for a festive sing along. There was much excitement at this and the children enthusiastically suggested ideas.
Thinking of others…
This led to discussions in both EY1 and EY2 about a special celebration for their parents.
“When our mums and dads come we could open the door and celebrate them. Throw cut paper everywhere. A surprise.”
“At my mums wedding they threw confetti at them. Decorating.”
“A merry Christmas, all happy together. Happy to be getting lunch, read stories, paint, make phonics, go outside.”
“All about surprise like Elliot’s idea. Celebrate and also then you go with your mum when finished, what for to see the clock.”
“Maybe we can decorate with lights. We can take pictures and show for the parents what we built and what we do.”
“We can put pretend snow because it’s a celebration for Christmas.”
“Music that they sing. The mummies like to sing.”
“I want my daddy to come over.”
“When is it? Saturday? Friday?
“Yes, a Friday.”
“They sing Christmas songs.”
“You can share food. Pasta and noodles.”
“I like bread. The mums would like meat and brown rice. We need lights. Five hearts for the mums because they love them. Give them a heart.”
“And I want my mummy to come too.”
“Rainbow lights, blow up balloons, fake snow on the floor.”
“Balloons! Pink ones, Ariel, snow ones, cat.”
“Presents for everyone.”
“We could have drinks. Juice, water. Beer and wine for mums and dads.”
“Get dressed up!”
Planning and organising…
“We are going to make little special thing for when the mums come.”
Having decided that a special time for singing was necessary, the children began to think about how to make their idea a reality. There was contagion. The idea of creating something special for the parents captured their hearts. We honored the children’s suggestions and committees were formed to work on the ideas presented. The children made decorations and special food. They decided on songs that they felt their parents would enjoy singing and practiced them themselves. They realised that the mums and dads may not know all the right words so song sheets were created. The special event began to take shape.
The special day arrives….
“I’m going to sing with my mum!”
“My mummy knows all the songs. She knows all the songs now.”
“It’s fun and excited!”
Finally it’s time. The children excitedly carried out the finishing touches, icing biscuits and displaying paintings. They changed into their special clothes and waited in anticipation.
Importance is given to the concept of parents as partners where we believe the exchange of ideas and skills parents bring to Early Years result in a spirit of collegiality and collaboration that offers the opportunity to further understand and strengthen the connection between home and school. In Early Years, we know it is important to focus on the children, but we feel this is not enough as we consider both families and teachers are also central to the education of the children. So it was with such delight that we were able to support the children in their desire to invite their families to school. Such an invitation, coming from the children, shows how much the children value sharing the experience of school. A time for child-parent interaction, where parents can experience the lives of their children, their interests and desires – things that are important to them. Put another way, it is an invitation from the children for the parents to feel at home in the atmosphere of school that provides a positive receptiveness to all concerned based on relationship and participation. The smiles on the children’s faces were delightful as they saw their parents walk into our centre and be amazed by the atmosphere and ambiance. The children’s smiles reveal to us their deep desire and happiness to live and share their moment together. By making this time to spend together, we hope that the children and parents will make further connections between home and school.
Loris Malaguzzi reminds us,
“I believe there is no possibility of existing without relationship. Relationship is a necessity of life.”
(p. 287, The Hundred Languages of Children)