It wasn't the children that challenged us - it was the many outside forces that seemed to be sending us tests...
- devastating rain and flooding that put so many local people and animals at risk and kept us closed for almost a week.
- the tree that fell in the yard, the soft-fall that was ruined and the leak in the roof.
- tree roots in the plumbing that forced us to close for two days.
- rain that prevented construction work to begin.
- the day without running water.
- the two broken air-conditioners.
- the vegetable garden being eaten by possums.
- the internet service that was not available for 7 weeks.
Phew! I could get tired just reading that list!
But you know what? Through the trials and challenges that we faced, I feel very strongly that our pre-school has come through with shining light. I feel so proud of the team of educators here and the way that each and every day they brought inspiration and enthusiasm to pre-school.
Challenges are a part of life. As we grow and change (and yes, get older) the types of challenges we are faced with change. But it is how we see these and how we deal with them that make the most significant impact on our lives.
We begin helping children to develop their resilience from an early age. The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (DEEWR) includes this in Learning Outcome 1: Children Have a Strong Sense of Identity Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency.
For some people, resilience appears to be a natural strength. We may know people who seem to take challenge or potential set-backs in their stride and deal with these fluently. For others, this is a skill that needs support, role-modeling and nurturing.
In a typical pre-school day there are many opportunities for educators to support and scaffold children to develop resilience. Imagine some of the following scenarios and how a child may deal with them:
- A block tower continues to fall each time it reaches a certain height.
- A favourite toy is lost in the playground.
- The last seat at the play-dough table has been taken by another child.
- Today's sandwich has Vegemite on it when they thought it would have cheese and lettuce.
- Rain has meant that play needs to be indoors today.
- One friend has said that they would not be your friend.
By supporting children to work through their challenges and understand their emotional reactions we aim to help each child to develop the skills they need to be resilient in other aspects of their lives both now and in the future. Sometimes as adults it can be easy to dismiss a child's reaction to a situation because we feel that it is unwarranted or we do not see that the problem was all that significant. By taking time to see a situation from the child's perspective we can work with them to use their resilience and intrapersonal intelligence to create solutions and move ahead.
As an adult I find it very useful to put challenges into perspective; to take time to focus on the good that is present and see that one set-back does not define a day.
So what has been good in the world of pre-school this term?
- the learning that surrounded the fallen tree.
- the beautiful new planters that were made from sections of the fallen tree.
- the replaced soft-fall that looks so beautiful.
- the opportunity for our children to connect with the community members and trades people who have worked with us to restore our grounds.
- the winter walk we took through our town to our local school library.
- the birth of a new precious baby to one of our families.
- the visit to us by day-old baby goats belonging to a local family.
- a visit by a local author inspiring us to write letters.
- excitement about physical activity and fundamental movement skills brought about by the Munch and Move program.
- our pre-school being nominated for a local business award.
- my own achievement of being a finalist in the NSW director of the year award.
Looking for the bright side can be a challenge in itself. I like to remember that each time I do this I am inspiring children to do the same thing. This, together with intentional support of children's resilience, is just another way that we are helping each child's sense of being, belonging and becoming.