Reflecting on the Special Child

October 30, 2018
As the year 2018 slowly winds down at Seaward, we are spending much time thinking of what works and matters most at our little school.
Throughout the year we reflect continuously on particular interactions with children, a given lesson, or even a whole nursery day because we know it is the key to improving our practice. However, in order to create a more engaging, challenging, and special school experience it is useful to look what gets us up in the morning and in front of our little pupils.

When I start thinking about this, I recall early mornings at Seaward with the favourite classical tracks playing and the noise of the arriving children happily (mostly!) humming in anticipation of the wonderful surprises about to unfold. I smell warm toast and listen to a coffee pot bubbling and the chatter of the teachers. For some reason these early morning routines matter. They help set us on a daily journey and create a special calm atmosphere Seaward is known for. I then reflect on our happy moments of celebration of a risk taken or a challenge met. And, of course, I also remember us sometimes going home with aching back and a heavy heart.

Not surprising, we love the Happy Moments when parents and children come to Seaward excited and leave engaged, and learned. We need more of those moments. You need more of those moments. We want to find them, create them, and recreate them.

Beyond thinking about the nursery as a whole, we see children as special individuals. We zoom in on non-cognitive skill development – willingness to take risks and try, to persevere in the face of challenges, accept failure as part of the learning process and handle emotional turmoil. These soft skills are not only critical to success in Big School; they are also critical for success in life beyond school.

We often ask ourselves:

Do children get to be more specific over time? Do they progress from saying, “I don’t know” to articulating the problem or task that puzzles them?

Do children seek feedback rather than approval and praise?

Are children capable of self-analysis and directing their emotional responses?

Do children KNOW they are Special even if they make mistakes?

The ultimate test of our efforts is the end of the Summer Term when every year we watch our older pre-school Dolphins flap their fins and sing to us their good-byes.

And when they’re off…

We simply hope they have become masters of their own universe –

They are strong and secure in their dealings with friends, teachers and surroundings.

Their play is complex, independent and intricate.

They can do things themselves. Practical things. Self-help things. Problem solving things. Conflict resolution things. Negotiation things.

In fact, if we have done our job well, they rarely need us at all.

They want more, different, cooler, bigger, newer, harder, riskier, faster, longer and higher.

They climb – high. They hang upside down. They somersault. They run – fast.

They are at ease.

They love to tease us and joke with us -and to push us.

Their artwork is detailed, and often tells a story.

They push boundaries and limits.

They stand up for themselves.

They are curious.

They question.

They like games with rules.

They build cities with blocks and create magic out of cereal boxes, drinking straws and tape.

They look after the younger friends – help them change their shoes, find their lost toy and wipe away their tears.

They tell us what they want, in no uncertain terms.

They take on challenges.

They experiment with power.

They persist.

They play with words.

They write letters.

They write their names.

They write books.

They create their own play spaces.

They teach us things.

They undertake feats of complex engineering.

They tell us when we need to water the herbs, sweep the playground or return books to the library.

The delight in ‘real work’.

They roll their eyes but then get on with the business of packing away the block area or the sandpit like a well-oiled machine.

They make us laugh.

They are explorers, artists, scientists, mathematicians, authors, actors, musicians, athletes, dancers.

They give each other comfort and support – most of the time.

They can be still, and are learning that sometimes they need to be.

They know what they like. They know what they can do. They will tell you that they are good at everything.

They still like a cuddle, but then they are off again.

They like nonsense. The sillier, the better.

They strut.

They spend their days as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, babies, cats, dogs, lions, ninjas, superheroes, aliens, princesses, astronauts and pirates.

They are special. They are needed. They belong.

They don’t just belong. They own the joint!

“You are going to cry, and cry and cry when I leave preschool.” said one four year old matter of factly. We tease them that we won’t let them leave. “You will! I want to go”, they reply.

And we do. And they leave. They’re ready. They’re Special.

They are Seaward.

Epic Mess at SeawardEverything Starts From a Dot
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