Who am I then? Tell me that first! Cried Alice

Screenshot of Alice from the trailer for the f...
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The curious Alice of Wonderland’s cry begs for us to get to know her first before anything else.  At this time of year we too are focused on finding out about our new children and their ways of being in the world yet I am reminded of our use of language that describes what can be a challenging time for young children and families as a time of ‘settling in’.   In the UK, these first few weeks of the new academic year are often referred to as a time to settle and in other contexts, this is sometimes known more as a time of welcoming.

So often, the words we use to describe objects and actions (such as ‘settling in’) can betray the complexity of the situation.  To settle to me often sounds one-sided, it demands that the child fits in to what has been organised for them by us, the need for settling is dictated by our requirements and values and by those set above us.  There are vast differences to the ways and methods that schools and settings approach these times, from an ‘all in’ approach that implies the sooner they are in the better (for whom?) to those that offer a more gradual increment of children.  However we do it, the complexity being is that it is much more than a time of children becoming accustomed to the routines and spaces we have created and much more than establishing a feeling of being comfortable with everything we do and provide for them.  Instead, maybe it should be more of a dynamic dialogue where we consider what makes our children and their families feel like they belong here, are part of here, can see themselves here and can participate here. We may not be in control of how this period is always managed time wise but we can all consider the notion of how we welcome and get to know our children and families in all our different contexts and the ways and contexts that support them to construct and share knowledge (their learning processes).  This is far more complex than identifying their starting point, their base line or their stage of development.

I know that this year I am going to be more alert and conscious of my actions and behaviours during this time of welcoming and getting to know each other.  I can begin by examining the ways in which the children (and their families) build up their relationships with the environment, looking for the hints, the evolutions and traces of their daily encounters and analyse these.  I know that I have been surprised sometimes by the ‘magnetic’ spaces that they inhabit, often in unexpected spaces, the spaces in which children and families are automatically drawn to and those that seem to do the opposite.  My aim therefore will be to become more intentional to the idea of welcome, participation and exchange so that children, families and educators together can embark more collaboratively on the Wonderland of Learning.

One thought on “Who am I then? Tell me that first! Cried Alice

  1. Hi Debi,
    love the blog and I connected with this comment on ‘settling in’. In the summer I suddenly decided to get back into classroom, to get back to building those close relationships with children and other team members, something I don’t get enough of in academic environment. So two weeks ago I found myself in the role of both ‘settling’ children in while I also was being settled in. As I was being initiated to the systems and organisation of the class, I was also trying to do my best to welcome new children and parents as they arrived. I am very aware as a new member of staff how I need to learn the routines of the classroom, but at the same time looking for the spaces to be me, and approach the children in ways that make sense to me. Thanks for reminding me to think a little harder about the term ‘settling-in’, and helping me to try through the complexity to focus on the dynamic dialogues that we are building to help children and parents feel as if they belong.


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