I’ve started Blogtober a bit late but it’s time to finish that list of 10 things that I learnt while working with children. You might have read the last one and thought ‘these are really obvious, why didn’t you know this before?’ The answer to that question is that these things really hit you in the face when you actually work with children and they make sense when you’re told about them.
Without further ado here are the remaining 5 things…
- Kids struggle to share and love to snatch
I know that when I was younger, growing up as an only child made it difficult for me to learn to share as I often had no one that I needed to share with! Now I’ve experienced the difficulties that my teachers must have had in getting us to share! When you have 38 children, there is never going to be enough equipment for them to all have one each but that’s not always a bad thing because learning to share is really important!
At the beginning of activities I would always emphasise that the children would have to share but inevitably you would always have someone taking over and using the cool things more than the others at the other end of the table who look on in hope that they’ll get a turn one day!
There were some success stories of sharing though; especially circuits when we had some equipment for use in groups and often, someone would get the concept and show the others how to do it. We also had a machine that was being shared in large groups and I was really surprised and impressed at how they moderated the time that people in the group spent on the machine and managed to get it round quite a large cohort of people!
- Kids are rubbish at guessing your age
I’ve had all sorts of estimates from 16 to 54 and I found that when I revealed my grand old age of 22, they tended to take me a lot more seriously than when they thought I was a teenager! Some children will think, ‘Jennie is an adult…. my parents are adults…. Jennie must be the same age as my parents… Jennie is 54.’ I got out of this one lightly though as the same child guessed the instructor I was working with to be 63 when we were the same age!
- Kids have so many ideas and are really creative!
The best people to solve a problem is not always an expert, it’s a child! Children can embarrassed about getting things wrong but not as much as adults! When I was leading sessions and ask the kids questions about a subject I always got such varied answers and it was amazing to get an insight into how they worked things out and what they did with the information that we gave them.
We often gave them a chance to be creative and make things themselves, including a game where they had to make different animals out of people. Apart from the usual arguments about who was going to be the head (a popular body part) and who was going to be the tail (an unpopular body part) we often had children sharing body parts and making formations that I would never have been able to come up with myself!
Another week the ‘after-club’ kids made a fort with all the chairs and tables in the room, it was always incredibly intricate and well thought through which made it easier to get past how much of a pain it was going to be to put back to normal!
- Kids are crazy
I can’t emphasise this enough! They do some absolutely ridiculous things! I once had a girl come up to me saying that she had thrown her trainer over the fence. My initial question was ‘how did it get there,’ to which she responded ‘I was celebrating that I got it out of the bin,’ so I retrieved the trainer and gave up questioning!
Another time, I spent hours with a group of children playing a game called Andy’s coming, a Toy Story based game that involved the children sitting in different positions around the room depending on who was coming into Andy’s bedroom. I was fascinated with how captivated they were with it and laughed so hard when it always seemed to descend into everyone talking with French accents!
- You’ll never crack the code!
Kids are both really simple and highly complex humans so figuring them out would take more than a week; a lot of times I thought I’d got to know them and then at the last minute I was taken by surprise. One example of this is one week where there was a really quiet girl who was friends with a really bossy and louder girl. Throughout the week, the quiet girl played with the louder girl, doing what she was told and keeping quiet for the most part.
On the last day of the camp that week, the louder girl had gone home earlier than the quieter girl and she seemingly transformed; released from the suppression that the other girl was obviously subjecting her to! She became cheeky, talkative, was doing cartwheels in the grass with me and running around with the other children. Before, she had been obliged to practice ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with the other girl but as soon as this other girl was gone, she was free. I was almost sad that she felt she couldn’t express herself with the other girl around, but I realise that learning to challenge others and show your personality is all part of growing up!
Again, I must point out that all of this post is based on my observations and not child psychology of any sort!