The language speaks the practice: naughty not by nature
If you are in Australia right now, its hot and its hump day and everyone has had enough of the world. Its the end of the year the kids are bored and ready to go to school.
Well at least thats what we are all thinking as we muster the energy to write the last few transition statements, wrap 60 portfolios and find something to wear to the Christmas party that looks half decent but isn't white.
Amidst all this we also need to remember to NOT CALL THE CHILDREN NAMES.
AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!?
Well it is time to make time.
Time to connect, time to see children as effective communicators (yes EYLF) that they need something. You do not have to always know what that 'something' is. But just by shifting your language you are on the way to shifting your view.
THE LANGUAGE SPEAKS THE PRACTICE
'I see you need to run today, lets run together outside'.
Lets unpack it.
By starting with 'I SEE'...you are explaining that you see the child (you know all that attachment theory stuff) check out Erikson and Bowlby. Well...go...NOW> go and research it before you move on to the next paragraph.
Then by acknowledging that 'YOU NEED TO'...your are helping the child to check in with themselves (you know all that self regulation and sensory integration stuff) check it out.....GO, NOW.
Finally by describing the action the child is making with their body 'RUN TODAY' you are allowing the natural urges to take place, you are allowing some important cognitive structure to take place (Piaget) <<<<Yup. Go. Google away.
'Lets run together outside': Unpack this. Think about how your curriculum allows for enough outdoor time, enough time to do things together, enough space to run, enough, enough, enough, enough with the indoor table activities. More space, more time. AND that's just curriculum, just one of the arterial roots beneath the surface. What could the others be? What else do we need to consider? What are they trying to tell us? About the place? About their bodies? About the world? About their brains? About your choices?
Drawing all of this together can bring about a new image of the child. One that is capable of communicating needs, one that is resourceful enough to use their surroundings to gain the input necessary to survive the conditions.
Sure, its hot and its not safe to run in this area and its the end of the year. This doesn't always mean children are bored (a whole other blog), children are trying to tell you something about the state of the environment or an inner state they are experiencing. If you spend some time watching, making notes, recording behaviour patterns using the routine of the day, you are not only providing your self with evidence of the possible 'root of the problem' but you are advocating for the child to be viewed as COMMUNICATING. Not NAUGHTY or BUSY or HYPER or FERAL (heaven help us, Ive heard it all).
When can we describe the body actions rather than the personality?
- When a parent comments on 'that child' being 'naughty' or 'feral' - yes she needs to run today
- When other children/peers make comments - yes he looks away when we talk to him
- When making written observations - Sally needed to climb and run for two hours everyday for three days in a row this week
- When sharing information with support services - Sally often needs time to run
- When commentating the child's actions to them - 'I see you need to run today'
By doing this you are acting as an advocate for the child, you saying to the community this child is included and valued and is not 'annoying' or 'rude', but this child is seen, heard, respected and loved. Time to look up UN Rights of the Child and The EC Code of Ethics me thinks. Ready, set....Go!
The language speaks the practice.
Speak about my body and my voice not my nature. You do not need to attend an advocacy meeting or a rally to advocate for child's rights when you are tired on hump day and can't find anything to wear to the Christmas party (but when you're not - you can!).
You can simply stop and think about the way you describe children. This is step one. Stay tuned for step two...