We need to find a healthy balance between being a “change junkie” and being set in our ways. Frequent change is unsettling, and change for the sake of it tends to only skim the surface before the next change is made. This is not what our ECE settings need. The reverse is also not desirable - places that sail along, doing as they’ve always done and not ‘rocking the boat’ with any new thinking. What we really need is hearts and minds willing to embrace change if and where necessary.
"Teach me the art of small steps". These words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery are the key to how our own settings developed from small beginnings to a thriving community with its own unique character. What really stands out to others is not just what we do, but how consistently we do it.
The company we keep has a huge impact on our experience and emotional well being.
The people we surround ourselves with can either lift us up with their presence, or bring us down. We know this and are usually careful about choosing our friends. We look for ‘our kind of people’, build our tribe and enjoy our relationships.
Perhaps the most influential tool we have in our ‘teacher kit’ is our own example. Our children take far more from how they see us living, than from anything we tell them.
How we interact, approach tasks, and manage our emotions all provide ‘lessons’ for our children. They notice these things, whether we wish them or not, and build them into their own default settings.
Heart centred teaching asks for us to be humble, focus on the child, and leave our adult agenda at the door. It ask us to stop ‘doing’ and focus on how we are with the children.
Let them lead, let us follow. Both approaches call on us to really tune in to the children, really making them the teachers and not us.
Find joy in the ordinary. These wise words bring a sense of peace to us. They reconfirm what we believe and give us the permission to follow our hearts, and offer children what we really feel they need.
Young children need security. They need to trust in their environment. This feeling comes from familiarity and a sense of ‘same old’ so they know what to expect. In this way the daily happenings become the ‘ordinary’, the staples of the programme that the children come to know and anticipate. They feel empowered by knowing, ‘this is what we do here’.
As heart centred teachers we focus on nurturing our children to plant their roots with us through strong connected relationships, and a sense of belonging and contributing.
From their earliest days when they enter our setting they know this is their place. It is that security and strong sense of connection that allows our children to 'fly'
Simone Weil said that, "attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity". This is such a refreshing view in a society that often sees children’s need for attention as something irritating.
We hear so much about the “attention seeking” child, as if it is a deficit in the child and something to be stopped before it becomes ingrained in the child.
Being away from loved ones, in the care of others is a big deal. It is asking a lot of a wee person, and we absolutely must be someone they can rely on.
Children will only learn and develop as they should if they feel safe. The child brings so much to the relationship, but this one is on us.
“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” ― Iain Thomas
Isn’t this absolutely the way with our teaching?
It really is the small things that make the difference. Tiny little touches set apart the ho-hum “just fine” ECE settings from the really special heart filled ones. There may be big differences in size and dollars spent across the sector, but the no price tag items are the things that speak volumes.
"The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice." - Peggy O'Mara
We also believe this powerful (and true) statement is applicable to the way we talk about children in their presence.
We have a society that speaks so negatively of children without even realising, and sadly this is often done in the child's ear shot.
There is so much negativity in our sector, it breaks our heart. There are good people starting to feel dis-empowered and discouraged, at the ‘mercy’ of the powers that be. But does it have to be like that?
We know that ‘when it is from the heart it touches the heart’. We know that it does not take much to 'bruise' a child's soul and sense of self. We know that one day that child will be an adult, making decisions that impact on our world.
It is a new year and with a brand new calendar seems to come a desire for goal setting and change. We feel refreshed after a break, and ready for some forward movement. We want to start the year with a bang, positive and inspired.
Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to infuse your setting with life and celebration. The festive season can be a magical time for our children if we choose to ‘let it in’, instead of closing the door to it.
At the Heart School we are passionate about creating beautiful and meaningful Christmas memories for young children. When they have long hours in care, and less at home or out in the community, it is really important our settings provide them some of the childhood magic that is the festive season. But what about our adults? Couldn’t they do with some Christmas magic of their own?
One of the best ways of responding to our children with heart is to remember what it is like to be them. Bring the child-you into focus, and you'll understand what is needed from us.
The spotlight is on the very important topic of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Whether or not we contribute our own voice to the ‘me too’ campaign, we have a really important role to play.
Making deposits in the heart bank. This is what our interactions and environment are aiming to do for our children when we practice from the Heart! As much as young minds need nurturing, so do young hearts.