Thursday, 16 January 2014

the atelier working WITH me again...

After feeling the frustration of the atelier not working with me earlier this week I went back in there to see how I could make a few small changes so that the atleier was meeting the children's needs and therefore working with me again and not against me...

On the easel I put one GREAT big paper and just two colours out... black and white. I also wrote the word TOGETHER on the paper (but in Swedish of course) as a symbol that this is something that does not belong to one person but to all of us, and that we should all collaborate.
this is at the start of the painting... it is now a wonderful mix of black greys and white


On the table I set up the pippette painting for two at a time...

more science art
There was a heated discussion during afternoon snack about who should start and how many painting they were going to do, and will there be time for everyone... and it felt stressful for all of the children... and me!!!

So a list was made with all the names on both lists of the children who wanted to partake in the activity - the other's were free to choose to do an activity with the looseparts in the atelier or in the adjacent room on the light table... as well as small world play in there.

This list worked wonderfully... and once everyone had a turn I let it be open for anyone who wanted to... there was no longer a desperate stress to ensure that they got a turn as everyone found a rhythm in their play... either watching others and sharing the experience, or playing in the adjacent room. The children were calmer and were able to focus on the creative experience rather than on the need to ensure that they were first and no-one was doing more than them...

I read a blog the other day Acorn School in Ontario about competition which really resonated with me... especially the bit about it being something we, as adults, often see as behaviour, and the children experience as a feeling. Being first or best at something makes them feel good!

So I have thinned down the beads etc in the atelier... not just because of my wish for intentionality that I wrote about in my post the other day but also to take away the feeling of stress that the children might experience... stress of too many things to choose from and the feeling of having chosen the wrong thing (so then it's better to take too much of everything just to make sure)... only two pots of paints so that there was no stress about having enough space to paint and competing for room... there was plenty of space to feel good about their creativity (and so good they painted and danced at the same time).
And the list of course took the feeling of stress that the other's would not let them have a turn so that they could get on with their play and creativity and not just focus on asking me "when can I have a turn" - despite the fact they know I will always let them know that it is not me they should be asking but their friend... there IS an adult dependancy...

As Ellen is still on holiday I have had a substitutes in to help - and it has been interesting to see how the children walk past me to go and ask the substitute for help... they know full well that I will only help if they have tried first themselves and if it is something too fiddly/hard for a friend to help with... as I get the children to help each other as much as possible. I see my job as making myself un-needed - in the atelier also... but right now I need to give the children a good foundation on how the atelier can be used, how the materials and resources in the atelier can be used before I can give them the freedom to "reign" in there.

you have to love experiments... we wanted to see what would happen if we put a dry absorbant paper next to, and touching two finished pipette artworks... so fun to watch the colours travel and meet and mix.

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