Sunday, 27 January 2013

what is love?

So I have been thinking more and more about the appearance of Valentine activities online - suggestion after suggestion of hearts and red and pink...

But maybe its time to stop and think...

What do the children make of all of this?

What is love for the children? Take the time to ask them - philosophize a little - does it have a shape? Is there one love? What colour is love? Can you hold love?

Maybe, once you have collected their thoughts, it is time to work out an activity - whether it be paints or tissue paper, cutting out shapes, glue, glitter - or maybe warm and soft sensory experiences.

My children, when they were preschoolers, described love as cozy, cuddles and wearing pyjamas all day!
Maybe when we represent love as flowers, chocolates and hearts we are projecting a different kind of love than the love children experience. After all loving someone is very different than being in love with someone.

Then maybe we should question the appropriateness of Valentine's Day celebrations with young children altogether? If Valentine is about being in love then maybe we should allow the adults to have this celebration...?

In Swedish it is called "All Hearts Day" which does bring us back to hearts again. Maybe it is a chance to think about what the heart is - is love found there or is it a pump making sure our blood supplies our body with everything it needs?

Where in their bodies do children feel love?

In their arms when they wrap them around us? All over?

How does love make them feel - weak at the knees? Or empowered to dare to do anything.
this is a drawing of "what is love" many of the squiggles are words, pre-writing, as the children saw that I was writing down their words, they too wanted to. The children talked about love being square, rhombus, star, heart shaped; it was green, blue, purple red and pink; it was when parents said "darling"... we will be discovering more about love in the coming weeks.

Lets take time this Valentine to find out what love is for children and see if we can capture it in words, in art and in action.

Reflection February 8th 2014
Valentine's day is approaching yet again - and again most pages seemed to be filled with suggestion after suggestion of pink and glittery hearts and other "traditional" views of Valentine and love.

Again I will not be celebrating Valentine's day with the children at my work... none of them have mentioned it even. As essentially an adult celebration I sometimes wonder why it is even thought suitbale for children (if I am really going to start challenging thoughts). Friendship is something I feel should be always celebrated, not just highlighted once a year, LOVE also... the many forms of love... parents and children, children and friends, children and their teachers, children and... well so mnay things they seem to love... 

This coming week we will return to the The Love Tree artwork, that ended up being reworked when the window it was exhibited in was vandalised (something the children have no memory of now). We will re-read the documentation together and then reflect upon what they think LOVE is... this being after we have asked them again what is love to see if being asked the same question a year later... a year filled with new experiences, will have changed their thoughts about what love is... and then allow them to reflect on the similarities and differences from a year ago.

My wish is for MORE teachers to dare to abandon the traditional heart approach to Valentine's Day and to turn to the children and LISTEN to their ideas and to then work out together how these ideas can be represented in art...


  1. It sure is easy to forget to ask children how they feel about things when you as an adult are so used to seeing it year after year. I guess we can get jaded.
    Interesting questions to ask, I'm curious how my girls will answer!
    Thanks for sharing your post with me :)

  2. Thank you Suzanne for sharing your thinking.
    So often as educators (and non-educators), we get caught up in the world in which we live. Marketing has such a powerful effect on us as adults, whether we believe so or not. Somehow whether it be Valentine's or other seasonal holidays/events...they make their way into the classroom without truly thinking about the appropriateness of it all for the young children we might be working with. You have reminded us to begin with the child and ask the competent and capable learner to share their wonderings about the " pink, red and hearts" that might be happening in their surroundings.This may provide for a totally different experience and direction.
    I can recall my K students wanting to know about the heart in their bodies. Needless to say, after some research together to find some simple facts, along with a model of a heart from the doctor's office and the not-so-surprising decision to co-construct a doctor's office with "real" tools, parents realized how much their children were engaged in learning about the heart. Suddenly the "heart" card had a bit more meaning for the sender and the receiver, as it became a simple piece of documentation to share learning.