This week in Woodlands
What is going on in the mind of your child?
Is this a question you ever ask yourself? We ask ourselves this question regularly in Woodlands. I might even go as far to say that this is the burning professional question for us. If only we could have a look sometimes. This burning question is what drives our very careful observation of your children.
Can I share with you that it is all about paying attention in a ‘companionable way‘ to the young children with whom we spend our days.
Woodlands’ teachers Sharon, Donna and Katy are all in the process of completing Early Years Training Courses themselves currently. Sharon has recently been researching how well we do our ‘Companionable Learning‘ in Woodlands. She is analysing the ways that our children of all ages along with the Woodlands adults, (their companions) learn together, in a mutual state of attention to each other.
In visual terms, in ‘Companionable Learning’ the learners are side by side, with a shared preoccupation.
I’m sure that if you picture this learning in your minds it will make complete sense to you that ‘Companionable Learning’ is seen as a powerful mechanism for well-being development as well.
Your children need to know and feel that we are interested in them as individuals and that we are excited about learning alongside them. We might not be learning exactly the same thing from the activity. However, in the moments when we do, I can tell you from personal experience that these are precious and exciting moments in our days. The most important thing is that the adult is learning something about how the child’s mind ticks during these moments.
There are 4 specific areas of ‘Companionable Learning’ development; attention, authority, apprenticeship and allowed time and space. I think they are all quite self-explanatory, except maybe the word ‘authority’ which refers to children respecting people and places, understanding expectations, knowing routines and appreciating the need for rules and boundaries.
So how it this happening in Woodlands?
Well, teachers are sat on ‘tiny’ chairs close to the child. Or, sit on the carpet so they can play and learn in close proximity to the child and see their facial expressions and hear their talk. Teachers show your children how to use scissors and pens effectively and then stay close and support their fingers as the child tries to open and close the scissors or make a controlled mark. Teachers ask questions which start with how? and why? and when? and who? Teachers admit that they don’t know all the answers and say sorry if they need to. Teachers are kind to other humans in the room. Teachers do not keep too close an eye on the clock – if the ‘Companionable Learning‘ is deep, with both parties engaged and enthusiastic, the learning time continues.
It’s not easy to find photos to show you because when we are ‘learning companionably’, we are not thinking about picking up iPads and taking photos!
This is not a strategy reserved for teachers, of course! I am sure many of you spend time ‘learning companionably’ with your children. As I often say, these early years of childhood are so precious….make the most of every day.
Wishing all our families a companionable weekend and don’t forget to have a think about the World Book Day costumes.