Today I met up with a friend I hadn't seen for eight years. We had always got on well and as I had hoped it was as if we had remained in close contact; when in truth we hadn't. Over a hot chocolate we started reminiscing about the adventures we shared. I could remember the incidents, but, upon reflection I couldn't recall the tiny details like she could. This led to me quizzing my husband. Was I loosing my mind? Or didn't I put enough importance on these events and my lazy brain didn't even bother to log them. In the car journey back home we discussed this and the conversation developed into me asking him about his earliest memories.
I then had a think back to my own memories and officially tried to recall the earliest, most vivid ones.
As a teacher my brain automatically hopped back to my school days and then further back to nursery days. I realised that of the memories I could dredge up, I could paint a clear picture in my mind but not as many as I had hoped. I then started to question myself, was the nursery I attended, boring? Was it a case of me having a lazy brain or was there another factor playing a part in me not being able to remember the most early days of my education.
I then began to get slightly worried....why are all of us at Free Rangers Nursery ploughing so much time and effort into delivering fun, exciting and engaging learning experiences when the children (like me) might not remember a darn thing?
And then I realised, or at least I came up with an explanation that satisfies my own questions; "Time flies when you're having fun."
So this is it...during the early years of my education I can't remember much, I can't remember creating some of the "masterpieces" that my mum and dad occasionally drag out, I can't remember the names of my teachers or most of the children I shared a classroom with (I'm still only talking Early Years here), but what I can remember is that I loved learning. Don't get me wrong I can't remember what I learnt; although hopefully it's in the grey matter somewhere; but I remember the important things to me; the joy of clasping my first grasshopper, and trying not to let it go too soon because it tickled my palms unbelievably so, I remember the corn whipping at my bare ankles as my brother, sister and I ran to take Dad his lunch in the fields. I remember being winded as I thudded on the hard ground having been launched from our shetland pony. One of my favourite memories is lying down on my tummy and transporting myself down into the grass and imagining I was one of the creatures that looked up to the top of the blades of grass and had to negotiate each small clod of earth as if it were a small mountain.
Enough of memory lane though, back to the point of this blog. Why is Early Years Education so important? Especially if those that it is supposed to benefit don't actually remember it! And why is our little piece of it here at Free Rangers actually really rather good?
My personal opinion is that at Free Rangers we try not to focus heavily on the outcome (the outcome is really just a bi-product) we try to focus on the journey or the process. We try to provide an environment where the children can direct their learning with the help of careful planning on our part. The children have no idea of the charts, planning and discussion that goes on, and I'm glad they don't. As adults we try not to lead the children but occasionally lean in and facilitate their learning.
Will they remember the time they passed through our doors? Some of the children will be with us for a few years and yet only be able to draw on a few memories. Does that bother me?
No. Because time flies when you're having fun.
As long as children's experience of early years provides them with a strong base, I believe they will progress through life and education and relish the opportunities afforded to them. They will have experience in their back pocket to draw on in good and not so good times. At Free Rangers we want to provide the experiential learning that will bolster them through both.
So it doesn't matter whether they remember us or not; but I do hope they'll recall the essence of Free Rangers and appreciate what it was we were all trying to instil; an overall sense of wellbeing and love of life that will give each child the belief that they can do or be whatever it is they choose.