Joint play outside over both playgrounds.
We have started ‘the meeting of the tribes’ where all children from the three groups have an opportunity to choose in which playground they would like to play and to move freely between the two. “You mean we can go wherever we want,” said Clinton with big eyes! As expected, some children relished the choice and opportunity, others found the idea and reality very challenging with a range of other responses in between.
This is a golden opportunity for children to become familiar with different spaces, children and teachers and to manage the noise differences inherent with the sheer number of so many children together. Both playgrounds offer different opportunities. The trapdoor in the Unit 1 tree-house was a treat for some children while the monkey bars in Unit 2/3 playground was a great draw card. Eve has decided, however, to reduce the number of her attempts so that she doesn’t develop another blister. What a badge of honour for perseverance!
I believe this is a very valuable experience for all children including the ones who need support and repeated experiences to adjust to this change. For children having another year at kindy, it enables some interactions with new teachers they may not have met before. For the children going to school, this is a taste of a more realistic ‘playground experience’ at school where there are many children, including many they don’t know, all together with teachers they may not know as well. This affords opportunities to build social skills and resilience in a supportive environment. Teacher and Educators also split their time between both playgrounds. Some children who struggle with this whole new experience have an option to stay with a familiar teacher or educator who can provide security and model conversation starters and help to facilitate connections with unknown children.
Joint morning teas also afford opportunities for children to practise asking someone new their name and saying theirs. Some further conversations unearthed some interesting information. Juliette even discovered that Mischa is going to the same school!
Some children discussed what they liked about it, what was tricky and what was worrying. Everyone was able to hear everybody else’s thoughts. An important part of this discussion was to work out what to do if you don’t know what to do. Children’s suggestions included “finding a kid you know, ask a teacher, find something you like to do and just play.” All great suggestions and all the more powerful as children are hearing them from other children.