“It must be so sad to see the children move on”, is a comment we hear all the time as teachers.
At a setting so centred on relationships we do build wonderful connections with our children and a child leaving is an occasion for a range of emotions.
Yes, there is sadness, but this is usually usurped by a happiness for the confident child we see leaving, who is bursting with enthusiasm at the new start ahead of them. We will miss them in our environment, but know that their future is a bright one.
We remember back to the very young child who first came through our doors, and we travel their journey in our minds.
We recall the three year old finding their way in our environment, learning to direct their own activities and be around others. There may have been tears at separation from family, or a beloved transitional object that accompanied them. There may have been language still to develop, and we remember the leaps they made in confidence as their ability to communicate with others as they wanted burst through.
We remember the four year old, more confident and capable, making choices to extend themselves, being social much of the time, and finding spontaneous opportunities to contribute to the group. If we are farewelling them at five, we have this beautiful journey to recall and we are so happy to have spent this time with this wee marvel.
We say our goodbyes, and very much hope that they’ll pop back in through those doors of ours that stay open permanently. We are updated down the track, and hear the stories of a bold journey into primary schooling, full of eagerness and a sense of ‘I can do this’.
If we are fortunate enough for the child to stay beyond five, we have ‘bonus’ memories, and a sense that their final six months contained as much growth as the two years before. We’ve seen leadership blossom and a self awareness that will take the child far. We’ve seen a delightful humour that develops along with more expressive language, a thirst for deep learning and a strong belief in themselves as a capable learner as they tackle challenges they have watched in the past that they’ve only dreamed of doing.
What do you see?
This is what we see in the graduating child. Every child has contributed, blossomed, and been an important part of our community. Each is irreplaceable, and yet we cope with their transition because we know this is just another stage in their journey.
Without having had a specific ‘preparation’ programme, they are 'ready' in the very broadest sense - not for school, but for anything - to take on challenges, meet new people, ask for help, be tuned in to their surroundings and care for others.
We know they are ready to soar, and leaving us to engage in the world with open heads, hearts and hands. No, we are not sad, we are delighted.
(This article is an adapted excerpt from a previously published blog post 'Our story, our fabric')