When Marianne flops down in the sandbox to help Emma and Sebastian dig a hole to China, they love her for it, and with good reason. She is making herself emotionally and physically available to them. According to Nanett Borre, early childhood educator, motor skills consultant and author of the book “Happy little legs”.
‘As an early childhood educator, you need to be physically present, even if you don’t participate in their play directly. We have be careful not to turn into some sort of guards that patrol the playground without ever playing. We need to interact with the children physically, not just verbally. If we simply watch the children, but fail to participate, we do not show them in purely physical terms that we understand what they are doing’, explains Nanett Borre.
‘When a teacher joins the children in their efforts to dig a hole to China in the sandbox, she quickly becomes an equal member of a group of children who are so busy that they forget themselves.’
She is of the opinion that the adults’ job is to remain curious and compassionate, so that they can help the children see the wonder in all that they see and experience on a completely ordinary day. Teachers need to be present both physically and mentally. They need to give of themselves when playing, joining in without assuming control.
‘When an educator joins the children in their efforts to dig a hole to China in the sandbox, she quickly becomes an equal member of a group of children who are so busy that they forget themselves, under the direction of a five-year-old supervisor who also leads and organises the work of the teacher. This is missing from in the way in which many teachers behave on the playground. They readily become spectators rather than equal participants.’
LEARNING MASTERY OF MOTOR SKILLS
Nanett Borre cites the principle of mastery as an example of how relations between children and adults should work. The mastery theory is characterised by the master, with his or her own body, showing rather than merely telling, how work should be done. The master acts, recounts and brings the apprentice into the work process, creating a mutual space for experiences and learning.
Nanett Borre reports that the theory of mastery is not limited to learning physical movements, it is also a question of body perception and the joy of using your body and moving: ‘Adults’ relationship to their bodies and their physicality are decisive for children’s ability to understand themselves. The body language you encounter says a great deal about how you see yourself. For teachers, it is therefore important to show joy by being there in the moment. We want to be both the first and the last on the dance floor.’