It can be easy, at times, to dismiss this meeting, easy to think it is just taking up valuable learning and playing time. It is sometimes difficult for all of us to pull ourselves away from our work and play to attend the meeting and sometimes it drags on and the only word that applies is 'boring'. But, sometimes, the most amazing conversations, plans, discussions and ideas come from these meetings!
On Wednesday morning, prior to the meeting, Mr. A, who is 5, asked me for a bin bag and for the rubbish picker. He and a couple of friends than spent the next half hour gathering up a bag full of crisp packets, yoghurt cartons and what-all left from the weekend visitors to the playground. He stashed the bag and picker away in order to attend the meeting.
After the sharing of plans in the meeting, the child or adult leading the meeting will ask if anyone has a problem they wish to discuss. Mr A raised his hand on Wednesday morning and announced that there was a "lot of rubbish left by other people who use the playground and this is a problem". He was very concerned about this and wanted to find a way to let people know that they really should put their rubbish in the bins. Many of the other children agreed. Eventually, it was decided by several of them that they would make signs to post on the gate reminding others to 'Please put your rubbish in the bin'. In they trooped after the meeting to create their signs, then out again to the fence where the signs were stuck up with varying amounts of cello tape. Some of the signs were not legible, some had upside down U's and backward S's. This is really not very important. The important thing is that a group of 4 and 5 year olds, led by Mr. A, saw a problem, worked to clean it up, realised that action needed to be taken and took the steps they felt were needed to improve the situation.
Real life situations like this allow for practice of the skills that schools usually label as 'learning'. This situation gave a group of young children an opportunity to practice their 'literacy skills'. During the making of the signs, one child, Little Fox, noticed that lower case 'I' always has a dot. They talked about other words that they knew and noticed the differences between upper case and lower case. These are important skills, but the actual learning was much more valuable: the children know they can make an impact on their world, they realise that a child can be a problem solver and take charge of a project. Amazing knowledge for a four or five year old!
PS.. I don't really refer to anyone as Little Fox or Mr A….But their parents will recognise them. :-)