Saturday, 21 January 2012

Learning to STOP in Nursery.

We've been learning about 'People who help us' this week, including Police Officers and Traffic Wardens.  I took the opportunity to link one of my classes favourite activities, riding the trikes, to one of the stranger learning steps in Development Matters.  The learning step to which I am referring comes under the heading of Physical Development, and is simply 'Are able to stop'.

There's no explanation as to which physical attribute it is that they are supposed to be able to stop, so I have assumed that it means stopping everything, at once, on request.  Rather like what you're supposed to do when a Police Officer says stop.

The activity went very well.  Lots of racing around of trikes, plenty of children dressed as Police Officers and a few Traffic Wardens.  I donned a Police hat and modeled how to command a speeding trike to stop.  The children soon got the hang of it, and I was able to stand back and observe who was able to stop.  I even tried a few loud shouts of 'Everyone STOP!'...very revealing, some children have very little awareness of what's going on beyond their immediate personal space.

With a little practice most got the hang of it, and the inevitable 'ignoring the law' type behaviour started to kick in...very amusing from a distance, and fascinating to see how the children dealt with conflict.  I often view my Nursery class as a micro-model of society and human behaviour.  The dynamics are very honest and bare, without the web of 'pretence' and 'sophistication' that you have to wade through to try and understand adult behaviour!

When I checked that one very bright girl could stop, she did so, but asked 'why?' I responded in role...

'Because I am a Police Officer, and I want you too.'  She trundled off with a slightly puzzled look.

All seemed well until I was a few pages into a story at the end of the day. Admittedly I wasn't exactly putting my heart and soul into it, but I was somewhat surprised to hear a shout...

'STOP!' It was the bright girl.

'Excuse me young lady, what's the problem?'

'I want you to stop.'


'Because it's boring actually.'

Seems I should have explained rather more about what a Police Officer is, and the difference between the law and normal social behaviour.  After making a mental note to adjust next week's planning, I asked the whole class if they wanted me to stop. They mostly did, and they went back to their own activities...

'power to the people'...'democracy in action'...'speak up and change the world'...

I like to think they are developing an understanding of how societies work that will give them confidence to influence the world when they are older.

I'll blog soon about how the children have created their own structure and order within the classroom without a single rule from me...


  1. Nice to find another male working in ECE - we are a rare breed, whether in the UK, or here in Australia.

    I worked as an early childhood educator in child care centres between 1988 and 1998, but now I do hands-on musical instrument programs with children mainly in schools and child care centres, using instruments I've built myself from junk and recycled materials.

    I'm looking forward to your blog post on how the children created their own structure and order; I'm a firm believer that children can and should be active participants in setting their own rules, and that by involving them in this way the class not only functions better but the children's autonomy is valued.

    I've shared your post on my Facebook Page.

  2. Thanks Alec...your instruments are amazing! I experimented a little with 'Stomp' style sessions using drain pipes and bins, but you have inspired me to try something a bit more sophisticated.

    I hope you don't mind that I've added a link to your blog on mine...I shall be following, and encourage others to as well!

  3. Hi, I found your link on Alex's page. I'm just giving you a shout to tell you about our it used by several MiC networks in europe as a forum for childcare professionals Men an Women to talk about gender balance in childcare with many articles, links etc. The MiC network Europe will be meeting in Edinburgh in April and there is talks of trying to establish one in the UK as we know a guy working in London interested in getting the ball rolling. Any upcoming will be on our facebook or you can contact us via our email Keep up the good work. Mick.

    1. Thanks now following meninchildcare on facebook!

  4. Oh, I LOVE how you responded to that little girl! Laughing out loud, truly am. BTW I will bet the farm that this child is gifted- sounds like she fits the profile ( ).

    Great to find another male writing about childcare, especially with such fluency and humour. Following!

    1. Thank you!...I think she is rather gifted. I found your blogpost really interesting, and think I may have been interpreting some gifted behaviour as 'being on the autistic spectrum'. Thank you for opening my eyes a little wider!


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