Letting go of anything in life can be an incredibly disturbing and stressful experience . It can however, with time, be the most empowering, exciting and liberating thing you can ever do.
Think of any thing, memory, person, idea or habit that is somehow holding you back or affecting you adversely. If you imagined letting go of it can you sense how amazing this would feel? The clarity, the new-ness, the vitality that would enter your life would surely make the initial panic and self-doubt worthwhile.
And yet how many of us stick to what we've always done, stay on the path that becomes a treadmill? The reason we do this is that we have become detached from our 'why' or because we know no different than the path that has been defined for us. As Early Years practitioners we follow in the footsteps of others because we have our eyes so firmly fixed on trying to shoehorn children into 'what-I-see-others-do' or 'what-I-think-children-will-want-to-do'. When we do this we fall into the trap of Early Years By Numbers. We join the dots through Google searches and investing time in Pinterest Provision.
We often tread the same path, led by beautifully curated online photos of continuous provision or planning ideas for topics and themes but this path cannot curate passion or a 'why' within you. We are coming under increasing pressure to 'fomalise' our practice which in turn continues to lead us even further away from our 'why'.
What if we chose to live our lives with passion and purpose instead? What if we let go of the staleness and the typeset provision and embraced a fresh way of looking at children and their needs? What if we accepted that we had to feel the fear and do it anyway?
It can be hard for us to let go of Early Years By Numbers. It's a comfort zone, it is control. Perhaps it's not even something that we're aware that we should let go of. Perhaps many of us are in the dark and blithely tiptoe along never really considering that our well-meaning practice is in fact limiting the children in our setting. Perhaps we've become so accustomed to searching for 'activity' and thematic nicety that we don't give headspace to the act of letting go.
Yes children need us, They need us for many things: to model, to steer, to love, to guide, to set boundaries, to give. But they don't need us to think for them, to limit them, to create dependence, to control. The latter stems from a lack of faith in children and often seeps down from KS2 via KS1. The stance that the National Curriculum is hard and needs formalised learning experiences never truly answers the 'how' a curriculum is delivered. It doesn't have to be table-based. It doesn't have to be topic or theme based and it doesn't have to involve a lack of outdoor experience or child-led learning or playful interactions. And it certainly doesn't have to make its way into Early Years...
In the previous blog we gave consideration to the First 5 steps towards change, the process of finding our passion and rationale for working in Early Years and in the way we see children and their 'soul'. The First 5 leads us to the first key choice in the process of letting go:
Do we either continue with themes and topics, with Pinterest Provision, with time spent trawling online for ideas and activities or do we let go and throw the doors open and embrace a way of truly engaging children in their learning and moving them forward with every interaction we have with them. We have to ask ourselves if we want to commit more time to our children who exist in our moment or our well-trodden ways, the comfort blanket of Early Years By Numbers...
Take time to think this through - are you ready for change? Do you want children to show you their magic, do you want to enable children to engage with play and playful learning? In your heart do you want to let go?
If so then next week's blog will help you begin the process of achieving it. Spend some time preparing yourself to let go and then let's together set out on a path paved by two words that has the ability to move your children forward like no other - Next Steps... :)
Can I Go Play Now..? is committed to widening the understanding of the magic of children's play as an educational tool. Child-centred, play-based learning is where it's truly at....