Preparation for a celebration of learning
In the early years of life, parents are their children’s first teachers — exploring nature, reading together, cooking together, and sharing new experiences. For teachers, it is a privilege when we become a part of this journey and are invited by the children to join their exploration of the world through play. Every day, we are fortunate to be immersed in their journeys of discovery and curiosity, and see how exciting and meaningful this learning can be. Through the Student Led Conferences, the children have the wonderful opportunity to extend this invitation back to their parents, so that they can proudly share their life at school.
In preparation for this event it has been an absolute joy to spend time with the children, listening to them reflect upon all of the things that they love about their learning journey in their first year in school:
“I like the castle with the lights in and stairs.”
“Kitchen - baking.”
“Playing with Isabella and Gwen”
“I like to play in the house. I make food for people.”
“Play with Gui, with the trucks.”
“I like playing with the cars.”
“I like playing Disney princesses and families.”
“Atelier – playing with the blocks and Star Wars.”
“Play in the sand pit. Shovel!”
“Reading by the trees inside.”
“All the toys.”
“Play with the animals. I like the gorilla.”
“The baby in the rocking chair in the house.”
“I like the blocks.”
The children also thought about other areas of our school they enjoy spending time in, that are outside of our classrooms:
“I like doing PE and playing with the parachute. I like the different colours”
“I like to read books in the library.”
“I like putting a bean bag on my head at PE.”
What would you like to do when your mummy or daddy is at school with you?
“Play on the green (grass) with mummy”
“I want to go on a Bear hunt with my mummy”
“The library, I’ll tell mummy and daddy you have to be quiet”
“Have a cupcake at the café”
“Play police cars.”
“Boxes. To make things.”
“Play with the boxes and make something with mummy.”
“The hill, outside.”
“I want to show mummy and daddy Mrs Wright.”
“I want to show mummy the bed, and blanket and pillow.”
The children then worked hard to draw a plan of all the things they wanted to show their mummy or daddy when they come to school. It was wonderful to see how important this event was to them through the care, attention and thought they gave to their drawings, interwoven with comments of love, care, affection and excitement.
“School is a place to learn together about the real world, and about possible worlds of imagination.”
(Caroline Rinaldi, 2006)
Miss Nichola Phillips
Time to be together
On Wednesday our Early Years Centre was full of excitement and bright smiles as our families were invited to spend time with their children for the Student Led Learning Reflection Conferences. It was delightful to see the children actually bouncing with joy as they confidently brought their families to our spaces to celebrate their learning. Our spaces had a lovely feel to them. There was such an atmosphere of appreciation and warmth. I was extremely moved by the tender and respectful interactions between our parents and their children. Parents really listening to their children and allowing their children to take the lead. Parents crouching down to be at the same height as their children and being really involved. Children and their families working together to make play dough, play board games, paint, collage, build a model of the Burj Khalifa… I think that a great importance was given to time and making it possible to have un-rushed time together. There was time to get involved. Time to for the children to share treasures, projects, or favorite areas. Time for children’s thoughts and ideas, and to give value to their work, their conversations and their feelings by slowing down to listen to them.
Some parents commented,
“It was wonderful for us to understand better how the class works and why Maria is having such a great time in your class.”
“Freya had a brilliant time and didn't want to leave, "daddy, I want a long day at school."
“She loved showing us around and was so pleased we got to see everything on her map!”
“We spent five hours in the school. Wow!”
I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of our families for helping to make this day so rewarding and positive though active and heartfelt participation. For many of our parents it was their first time at such an event and as such, I know that it was difficult to decide how much time would be needed and to plan the day around work and other commitments. It was amazing to see how our parents got so involved with their children and were so interested in finding out about daily school life and stayed much longer than they had anticipated.
We are fortunate in our daily work with the children to share and be in the moment of their many stories through their many symbolic and poetic languages – stories of animals and parties as they construct with clay, stories of heroes through construction with blocks, stories of princesses through dancing to music, and many, many more...We live each day, immersed in the stories composed by the children, helping us to make deeper connections and relationships with each other through active listening. We accept these invitations by the children with pleasure to belong and to be a part of their world. Through the Student Led Learning Reflection Conferences, we extend the invitation to the parents, to provide time for the children to proudly share their learning through their many ways of expression. From my observations I could see the respect that our parents have for their children and that they appreciate how capable and competent the children are. Loris Malaguzzi who worked in partnership with parents and educators in Reggio Emilia preschools, describes the process as,
“Understanding the child as a co-constructor, an active participant, wanting and responding to a wide range of relationships, in the home and outside, with other children and adults...We can open up the possibility of a childhood of many relationships and opportunities, in which both the home and the early childhood institution have important, complementary but different parts to play.”
I wonder what your favorite moments were?