Friday, 18 January 2013

Pizza (the individual needs of a child/playing freely)

This afternoon I have been at another meeting talking about the Swedish preschool curriculum and whether or not it supports those working in early years settings sufficiently in the eyes of Barnverket - we discussed meeting the needs of the individual, head teachers not being responsible for more preschools than they can properly fullfil the requirements set out in the curriculum, gross motor skills and the opportunity to play vigorously and to play freely (we discussed that maybe we need to re-phrase "free-play" to
"play freely" 
as sometimes it feels that "free-play" has become diluted or hijacked in some way by adults. In the sense that we adults call it free-play but that it is still very closely monitored by adults ... Michael has recently said that he likes Thursday afternoons best at school - its when there is a planning time and there are half the number of staff that there are usually - he say its a time when he can play.

The thing is, the more I talk to others about free play - or playing freely, the more stories I hear that make me nervous. Stories where the idyllic playing with others freely and naturally that I had as a child is replaced by danger and bullies... Which brings me back to my memories of reading Lord of the Flies - the "play" is fine in the beginning - but goes wrong later - is it that children need to play freely under the watchful eye of their neighbourhood? That even though children have the liberty to make up their own games and devise their own rules, there is always that sense of responsibility - and if responsibility is forgotten for a while then there are the adults in the neighbourhood to support them (I know that if I was up to no good my parents were sure to find out...). Did these adults that told me stories that made my eyes widen have a free-play as children that lacked that kind of watchful neighbourhood? Maybe something worth looking into? Maybe the fact that it is individual families and preschools/schools that are raising children instead of communities together that is contributing to being able to play freely diminishing...?

So you are wondering why this post is entitled "Pizza"?

Well I was late home from the meeting - and Friday afternoons are usually my sacred time with my children - so instead of making dinner when I got home I picked up pizza on the way home!

While I was waiting for the pizzas to bake in the oven I watched a man eating his pizza in the restaurant part - he didn't cut up his pizza like we do at home - he sliced off and ate the crusts first turning his pizza into a pentagon.

It made me think - how many different ways can we eat a pizza? How many different combinations of toppings? There are also a great many different kinds of crusts/bases too. Such variety - and yet just a pizza.

It made me think of children - and all their differences - personalities, learning styles, quirks, talents etc etc. It made me feel sad that if we were always treating our children as "margheritas" that we are missing out on all the toppings - it might be very good quality tomato sauce and mozzarella - possibly the very best - (and for some this will be just perfect) but for many others there will always be something lacking.

We need to find out how to support children to spice up their pizza - work out which flavours suit them best - AND even allow them to try a whole load of different pizzas and not have to stick to just one.

OK OK I am going slightly mad and depicting children as pizzas ... but I was in a pizzeria, and at the time it all made perfect sense.

I hope that at least part of it has made sense while you have read this!!!

What kind of pizza are you? And how do you eat your pizza?

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