A blog on teaching and supporting with respect

Hello and welcome to January's blog, I’m Totty (Early Years Teacher and Kindergarten Badgers Room Leader) and I asked Kate if I could write this month's blog about something that we have been focusing on recently within our Badgers Room. I’m fairly confident that the Badgers room won’t be alone in this problem, and I am hoping that you might come away from reading with a useful hint or tip.

So, what am I talking about? Well, something we have been having a particular focus on within our Badgers room recently is teaching children to have respect and care for our belongings. Over this past month we have been through a patch where it felt like everything was either going missing or getting broken. A real eye opener for me was when I was speaking to a group of children about a toy that had broken, and I posed the question of what would happen if one of their toys broke at home. In response one child turned to me and said, “mummy or daddy will just buy me a new one.” This comment led me to reflect about how we live in a society where toys etc can be so easily accessed, we’re just a click away from getting the latest paw patrol figure through next day delivery on amazon prime. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and I know myself that I certainly take advantage of this. But it is something that the younger and future generations may take for granted.

So, what are we doing about it?

There are lots of ways we can instil children with an awareness of respect, gratitude and care for their toys and belongings. I believe that engaging in dialogue with children about this is a great starting point. These conversations happen daily within our room and are a mixture of incidental and pre-planned. During some group times recently, we have been discussing how some families don’t have lots of extra money to spend on toys, so if something gets broken, they understand that it may not be replaced. We have also been reading some books to help reiterate this point, two that I recommend are ‘Be Gentle’ by Virginia Miller and ‘It’s a no-money day’ by Kate Milner. These are just two books that I feel approach this topic, in slightly different ways; learning through stories and play is much more powerful and therefore effective than just talking at a child.

Something that’s within the statutory EYFS framework are the 4 British Values, these run not just through the EYFS, but schools are also expected to teach and uphold them. One of the 4 values is ‘Rule of Law’. Within this section we teach children about the understanding of rules, why they matter within our society and that our actions have consequences. Teaching children about consequences goes hand in hand with encouraging children to have respect for belongings and objects. I feel that for a child to fully embody respect and care for objects around them then it is important for them to appreciate and value these objects. We want the children to have a sense of ownership of belongings and the environment they access. One example of how we might bring this lesson to life is when a book gets ripped. Yes of course we would talk to the children about what has happened, but we would also be encouraging the children to find ways to solve the problem at hand, such as taping the book back together and thinking about ways to prevent it from happening again. Encouraging the children to play a proactive role within this problem solving encourages them to gain a deeper understanding of what has happened and will hopefully instil a sense of pride and ownership over the resources.

Another key factor in encouraging children to look after their belongings is ensuring that they help with tidying up after they have finished with something. At Great Wood Farm we encourage the children to tidy as they go. This means that before they can change activities/move away from the area they have been playing in they need to help put back the toys how they found them. Of course, this takes lots of modelling and support from the adults and it is something that we have to remind daily. As we encourage the children to do this, we speak about why this is of importance, explaining that it can be dangerous if items are left out on the floor for example, as someone might stand on the object either causing it damage or even potentially hurting themselves. Another reason we give is that if resources are put back in the correct places, then another child can find it if they wish to use it within their play. Something we do to support this is use labels within the environment. This might be simply adding a picture of a selection of cars to the front of the car basket or adding some maths learning opportunities to this by having a picture of the square block and the quantity written by the side of it.

During your child's time at nursery, they will not only learn that more typically thought about knowledge such as an awareness of number and sounds but life skills, including this respect and care. These opportunities often present themselves at home. With every area of learning children will gain a deeper understanding when nursery and home, work together in partnership. So, if your child takes a few moments longer to come out to you at the end of the day, it may just be that they’re putting away that toy that they have just been playing with.