Everyday as I enter our Playgroup home, I take a moment to welcome and acknowledge the new day as an opportunity for me to better myself as a guardian of the young children in my care. I strive for my attitude and thoughts to be filled with love, truth and goodness as I am aware that these ‘inner gestures’ permeate everything that I do, with and around the children. This applies to everyday tasks such as washing the dishes together, sweeping, wiping the tables and tidying up our toys. This of course also reaches in to how we as teachers facilitate play, manage conflict between the children, foster individual and social development.
Preparation for the arrival of the children begins with teacher Zoleka, the Playgroup Assistant Teacher and I opening the curtains (to let in father sun’s light), wiping the work tables and putting out rolled balls of soft playdough – this week it is the bright pink of watermelon fruit. Today is baking day, so I am mixing together ingredients to make a dough – for our soft brown rolls.
When the dough is still warm, the children begin to arrive and are drawn toward the task. Two girls who have become good friends after these first few weeks of school, go together to wash their hands and sit at the ‘baking table’.
A flour cloud is placed at each setting on the ‘baking tables’ as an invitation for more bakers to help us knead and form the rolls which will be our mid-morning snack. We roll our buns with the reminder from teacher that we use soft gentle hands for bread dough…finally placed on the baking tray we have long rolls. Short rolls, holey rolls, snakes and flat ones, although they still taste good once baked.
Outside there are dragons! This is the time for me to finish our inside tidy and move to outside. I give time for them to roar and shriek; just enough to retain their draconian nature before I swiftly ‘fly’ to them and remind our dear dragons not to let all the fire in their bellies out, or they may soon find that they could only breathe smoke (‘uh-oh’).
Living happily with dragons is not always easy to achieve, so I am sure to remind the dragons and ensure the people of the village that ‘only kind dragons are allowed at Playgroup’. Other children settle for calm role-play and go about the morning, digging in the sandpit, making sand cakes. Three girls follow the same rhythm every day as they go from the playdough tables into the children’s kitchen where they begin to stir and mix and prepare a table for their meal.
Once the play is in full swing, I fetch a table (usually with the assistance of a few helpers) and prepare to cut fruit for our fruit snack. A few children wanting to cut their favourite fruit or perhaps feeling nibbly, bring chairs from inside the classroom and sit at the table to help. They cut with blunt, eating knives and soon we have an interesting looking, lovingly prepared fruit plate. Now I call the children to fruit time with a recorder tune. Some easily withdraw from their play, some to wash their hands and join our golden band (holding hands together) and others may need a gentle urging that ‘our fruit is waiting for us’.
Inside the class we walk carefully together holding hands and go on a journey at our Ringtime. Today we visit the farm. Farmer tries to pick the ripe red apples but cannot reach them. He stretches, leaps and jumps, to no avail. Little pony offers to help, he too jumps against the tree, kicking with his legs, first one, then the other, then both! Our adventure with farmer and pony continues until at last they are rewarded with sweet, juicy, crunchy apples to eat… And now the Playgroup children are hungry too and have some lovely fruit to share.
Back at play a four year old who initiates wonderful imaginative play, brings her baby to me. With a concerned look she tells me that her baby is sick! ‘We need a doctor’, I wonder loudly enough to myself for those close by to hear.
The concerned mommy decides that she will be a doctor and mommy! Together we gather ropes and cloths for the construction of our hospital. The children carry big stones to weigh down the sides and soon we have patients lining up with ill babies. The patients, doctors, doctor assistant and nurses all come to observe as I check, diagnose and treat the first few patients. Blocks are fetched for our thermometer, their foreheads cooled with cloths and bandages/leaf plasters are applied. After my shift I explain that I am very tired and must go home to rest for the next day, already then another doctor is ready and waiting to assist the patients. Our day continues at just such a pace until the storytime and parents come to collect children, or some go to aftercare.
Dearest parents, grandparents, and care-givers, please remember to take joy in the simple pleasure of life like burying your feet in the sand, and sitting quietly listening to the wind blow or watching a chameleon climb a tree. These sensory experiences will remain with the children for the rest of their lives.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future which is not
Hidden in this present instant.
The gloom of this world is but a shadow,
Behind it, yet within our reach is joy.
Remember to play:)
Blessings and Love
Teacher Kelly Collier