Tuesday, 29 January 2013

I wanna hold your hand... and other routines

Over the years I have had many discussions about routines with colleagues - the importance of them and also their disruption to the day...

Sometimes I have felt that the "routine" part of the day - washing hands, changing nappies/toileting, eating and getting to and from destinations are seen as a separate part of the day and for some reason not a part of the learning environment the children participate in.

I have also worked at places that have simply hopped over the hand-washing before lunch and snack because it was too much hassle!!! Hassle? Isn't it supposed to be our job to support the children to learn how to wash their hands before handling and eating food? Shouldn't we take the time to help the children learn how to take turns, how to wash their hands properly (and dry them properly too) - another opportunity to interact with the children in a positive way.

Changing nappies should be a special time, and done with respect, and always by someone who knows the children. It is a time for connection and interaction. A time to communicate, for the building of trust and language...

Here in Sweden we often go on excursions - and sometimes there is such a hurry to get from A to B that so many wonders are missed on the way. There is a value to hand-holding and walking in line which is not just about safety - it builds a sense of "the group". If children are walking individually and marveling at the world they tend to be only responsible for themselves and their own interests (maybe of a few others too), but if they are holding hands and in line they then become aware of their partner, the children in front of them and behind them, and therefore creating a sense of "we". Things can still be taken slowly, and there can be pauses to allow the children to observe and ponder things more closely - sharing their experience with the group.

Michael with friends

I had never really thought of hand-holding and walking in line as a kind of group-building activity until today - I always thought that it was just a method of ensuring that all the children were safe and we ALL got to the park/forest/destination as intended. But today I have seen the social benefits of walking in lines. I know that many preschools in Sweden use walking ropes, and while they are not always optimal (I think they tighten on hands when pulled too hard by a teacher, or can cause a domino effect of falling over as well as not helping the children to think for themselves as they are walking but to allow themselves to be lead along) - I do think that it makes it easier to keep with a partner during this time of big winter gloves that make hand-holding tricky. There are other alternatives too - small hoops to hold or rope rings for partners to keep together...

Just thought I'd share my a-ha moment...

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