The WHAT of ‘Less is More’

In our previous blog post we discussed WHY we believe ‘less is more’ in early childhood based on the definition of minimalism by Joshua Becker in his book ‘The more off less’: 

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them. 

Believing is one thing, doing it is another thing. WHAT can minimalism look like in early childhood? Are we looking for sterile, frugal rooms with a minimum of resources, minimum interactions, minimum experiences? Absolutely not. 

Minimalism isn’t in what it takes away, it is in what it gives!

According to Joshua Becker, minimalism isn’t in what it takes away, it is in what it gives! Less clutter makes space for love, care, beauty and kindness. If we believe that teaching is more than just a mere transfer of knowledge, feeding the head, we would want to have space for the heart stuff. 

Declutter and create a soul-full place.

Use it or lose it is an often heard quote. Why not use this in our environments? Our role is to modify, adapt and manipulate the environment. Have a stocktake, walk through your room and note down what is essential, what is non essential but preferred, and what is absolutely not essential. Remember, a beautiful and thoughtfully created space is a space where the child's own imagination gets to put life to the passive things. 

When you take stock, ask yourself if it is something that the children can use for infinite ways in their play, or is it something so it can be checked or ticked on a checklist? 

Education and learning is inextricably interwoven into life. Pottering around, giving the space a homely feel is what makes a space alive and non clinical. A homely space does not look like a supermarket full of toys or a storage space (true, some people’s homes look like a storage space and some children’s bedrooms look like a toyshop), no matter how organised it is. Don’t let the combination of compliance and regulations get in the way of creating “soul-full” spaces.

During early childhood the brain is shaped by our daily experiences, necessary for growth. If we create environments that are not over regulated by adult rules and societal priorities, but instead create environments where children learn to manage dangers and risks, and where they can have those life-shaping experiences, children will not only shape their brain, but also their soul.

Slow down!

What about your practices?  Adults pace is not suited to childhood, we have to remember to not expect children to operate, process and jump to attention at adult speed. Our fast paced society has people wearing busyness as a badge of honour, sweeping up our children in the hurriedness, expected to keep up. What our children really need is very simple, it’s TIME. Time to be, to dream, to work things out and to decide.

Simplifying or minimalising can easily be done by just SLOWING DOWN.

Some children are in daycare for 45+ hrs a week, in a busy, ‘planned for every second of the day’ centre.  When can a child be alone, when can a child experience quiet if when the child just sits and looks out of the window he or she gets called over for an activity or transition time? Children do NOT love noise, excessive interaction and busyness. Children love quietness, dreaming. They want to be in a place they trust, but also a place where they trust others in it. A place they know they will find stillness and be respected. Where they can find inner peace needed at any moment in time!

How is your teaching related to restraint, simplicity and naturalness? 

Is it harmonious and balanced, uncomplicated? Or is it full of distractions, noise, clutter? Are you on turbo all day, doing and doing, or are you calm and focused on being? Do you take time to wander and wonder? Or are you weighted down by the ongoing need for documentation and administration, interfering with your ‘presence’. 

Be joyful. Slow down, laugh, show excitement over an awesome looking cloud in the sky instead of a silly picture on a phone. Don’t judge, just notice, be in-joy with the natural gifts of life. 

Looking at the simple things in life with a sense of awe and wonder will bring joy not only in the children’s life, but your life too!

We loose something as we get so busy in the 'doing' of life. Lets remember we are human 'beings' not human 'doings'. Do what brings you joy and happiness, let go of the seen and unseen clutter. Give yourself full credit for who you are TODAY, in the moment. Forget about the past, don’t think ahead to the future. Relax in what you already have or already are. Keep it simple, today is a good day to live!