As we enter the September break and conclude another phase of online learning, I felt very reassured when I read an article by Kirsty Liljegren, a very well-respected Early Learning Consultant. In fact, I had the privilege of getting to know Kirsty on an extended Reggio Emelia study tour a few years ago. In a recent article, she revisited many of the fundamental understandings that, as educators and parents, we need to have at the forefront of our thinking during this challenging phase.
She reinforced the point that ‘life itself is learning’. Learning doesn’t start and stop as children enter the school gates or when they open and close the lip on their iPad. As teachers, we have always understood and acknowledged that you, the parents of our students, are a child’s first teacher, and you always will be.
As we approach the holidays and children hopefully have less time on a screen, keep in mind that those ordinary, everyday moments are full of potential. Learning is sparked and enabled through curiosity, wonder, imagination, creativity and conversation. In these unstructured free-flowing moments, important learning is still taking place. For example, continue to take the opportunity to share a storybook. I love the notion that reading together is a ‘verbal cuddle’ – at any age!
Keep in mind that play is a rich vehicle for learning. Children learn through being active, with body, hearts and minds working in harmony. As the warmer spring weather creeps in, remember that the outdoors is not only beneficial for their mental wellbeing; it is an enriching natural classroom.
At Carey we strongly believe that the performing and visual arts are not just nice to have, they are a must have. Hence, we have continued to enthusiastically pursue these even online. The Arts support self-expression, rich communication and the generation of creative ideas.
Over the past week we have also embraced opportunities to reach out to others. We know that by looking beyond ourselves we intentionally boost our own sense of wellbeing. Acts of kindness, showing compassion and empathy positively impact others and at the same time they add meaning to our own lives. In endeavouring to connect to other people around us, we are modelling and encouraging this approach in our children. Children are acutely observant. Keep in mind that even small moments matter.
Don’t forget the importance of prioritising your own wellbeing. Have you filled your cup this week? As parents, we are our children’s emotional anchor, and our focus is often on filling their cups with praise, a smile, or encouragement, but how often do we take the time to refill our own? It's important to remember that we cannot pour from an empty cup so don’t feel guilty if you add a few simple self-care activities to your weekly routine, particularly over the holiday break.
Head of Junior School Donvale