Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What R’s are Important?

There are many R words that are currently to the fore in our thinking. Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic', always a popular catch cry is up there now with National Standards testing looming. Not to mention us teachers being ready willing and able to;
  • Reflect 
  • Respond
  • Revisit
  • Reciprocate
  • Revise
  • Refresh
  • Renew
  • Rekindle and  
  • Relearn

    Two more R’s have been to the fore this Christmas Holiday season. I have been reminded of the importance of rest and recreation. The dictionary reminds us that rest and recreation are periods of refreshing freedom from exertion and emotional anxiety, and engagement in enjoyable activities for pleasure.

    Rest and recreation takes many guises. For some of us it is planning a festive table, building family traditions, lying on the beach with book or wine in hand, riding our beloved horse, visiting friends, harvesting the garden and orchard, swimming an ocean “race”, completing an unfinished quilting project or being with family to name a few.

    For me rest and recreation this holiday has been many, many things. It started with decorating the Christmas tree and getting to greet my old friends the decorations and think about the people, places things and time they connect me to, stirring a Christmas cake and feeling close to my mother and sisters, and this summer very happily lying in bed some mornings with my yummy grandchildren, aged 10 weeks and 2 yrs, as they giggle and wriggle at being thrown up and down on our knees into the duvet in the same way their mother was. Now the rest and recreation of the season is drawing to a close with a very quiet house to ourselves again and looking forward to the challenges and planning for this year.

    This has led me to reflect on what does rest and recreation look like for our infants and young children?

    Maybe, it was lying under the Christmas tree ‘play gym’ Nana made.
    I had shown Pipiana, my 10 week old granddaughter, the Christmas tree and decorations on several occasions and she stared and smiled with delight. Sparkles, lights and shiny things always grab my attention too. Later, I was holding her in my arms and as she gazed into my face I noticed her absolute concentration on my face and we had a conversation. Yes one of those beautiful privileges where we goo and gaa our total unconditional love for each other to each other. Aha! Then… her hand’s enquiry, she was just starting to bat around and reach out of her accustomed space, I wondered, is this the start of something we have been wishing for, those random “reachings” that will become more purposeful with practice? I gazed around the room maybe something here will really interest her and provoke those hands, Ahh!! the Christmas tree. I said “Would you like a different view of the Christmas tree?” I lay her gently there. She lay happily there concentrating, drinking in all that was around her. There was an up close and personal experience with many decorations, so close, it caused to her cross her eyes!! Sometimes her two year old brother, Hawaiki, helped by moving the decorations and putting some closer to her. Then, slowly over time and several occasions, her bats became more often and more random, sometimes a fluke and contact was made, the reward came, the decoration moved - then not long after there it was a purposeful bat. Her eye was firmly on the goal and there - no doubt about it contact had been made and the Christmas decoration was swinging. More practice to come, more provocations.

    Or, maybe! It was getting up close and personal by dragging your own chair, with Nana’s coffee machine to make a “fuffy” in a “spzzcial cup”. “ That maka big noise, scarey!!! Zzzzh shshsh!" Which careful listening led me to hear “let me close to that thing and stand close by me”. That is another blog, another day!!

    So rest and recreation for me this Christmas afforded time for a ‘grandmother’s gaze’. Time to look and listen closely to those I care about and for. Not unlike a “teachers gaze” I think!!
    Rest and recreation for infants and young children can take many different guises and requires adults who truly listen so …How do I notice, recognize and respond to their cues for rest and recreation? What “space” is there in the ‘busy-ness’ of children’s lives in our early childhood education and care settings for rest and recreation?
    Are there periods of refreshing freedom from exertion and emotional anxiety, and space for sustained engagement in enjoyable activities for pleasure for the infants and toddlers here?

    We would love to hear about what you have noticed about rest and recreation this holidays.

    We are all looking forward to our Inspiration Days;
    Focus on Babies at the Brentwood in Wellington February 13 2010 and
    Listening to Babies Voices on February 20 2010 in Auckland.
    See the website for details.

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