Forging a Group: Challenge, Practice, Skills, Joy....

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Here we are finishing up October and now into the very first week of November and these children are already forging larger group ties, connections, and the skills they will need to work together in more complex ways. It’s still so early in the year and they are already busy and able and interested in going on to the next level of group building.

Every year, every group of children does this. For Nursery children it sometimes happens in November or December, often in January or later, and one year it wasn’t until two weeks into May, that a collective group understanding came about.

When it does happen, it’s when they seem to sense individually that they are ready and also that they want to accomplish things they can’t do as well on their own. It requires the ability to communicate their ideas in a group setting with the others. It requires a certain give and take, plus a comfort with the process of really listening and talking as they work out the inevitable bumps in the road and figure out how to take their play forward. It requires practice, repetition, and sometimes courage, to be able to let go of what you may want in the moment to become part of something bigger than yourself and make yourself part of a blended vision. I see the work they put into it to find the balance. I think they are  aware of their individual and collective effort, but, for them, I think it is the joy of the process that is what they’re most aware of. Their process is the motivator! When they are on a roll, it’s like watching jazz musicians improvising with and off of one another.   

I think one thing that is at the core of being ready to do this kind of work is their practice and comfort with turn taking. I have watched them spontaneously join up in unlikely little groups of three or four to throw a ball around to one another while they came up with  variations to the game as they went along. One variation included them trying to bounce it off of their heads instead of catching it. Much laughter.

There has been another game that was invented and refined by one Nurseryer over several days. With this one, as many as six children at a time would eventually join in. In it, after the rest of the group had ritually stepped out of the way, each Nurseryer, in turn, would run like mad around the perimeter of the sand box and, after several circuits, would dive — head, tummy, legs — flat into the sand. They would jump up triumphant, the rest of the group would celebrate with them, they would scoot out of the way again, and then the next person would make their own run and dive and celebration.

With no adult involvement or direction, they are sometimes having real shared group conversations around the lunch table now which absolutely requires them all to individually  buy into turn taking. Sometimes in call and response. One went like this:

“Who likes cucumbers?”

Around the table one at a time: “I like cucumbers.”

“Who likes strawberries?”

Again, one at a time: “I like strawberries.”

“Who likes carrots?

This time, one person quickly disagrees: “I hate carrots.”

Another gently says, ”Don’t say hate; that’s not good.”

The first person, rephrases: “I don’t like carrots.”

Someone else responds: “But they’re healthy food; they’re good for you.”

Playing with the form of their call and response they had just invented, the others continued laughing around the table: “I like carrots.”

Being three and four and five, it eventually was over the edge and into: “Who likes to eat poop?”

And then they joyously moved into something new.

Please realize that all of these vignettes stem from their hard work and practice and getting to know one another and themselves in this group setting. Add a creative spark, the idea of some Nursery Schooler who leads the way, and then the others spontaneously join in. I am an observer and sometimes if I am quick enough I can grab my iPhone or paper and my pocket pencil to make a record of these moments.

This is high level work/play that they are choosing to do. Make no mistake, they are accomplishing this while they often feel “Meee first!” You can see that there is much joy and satisfaction in their process and what they can do together, but it’s also challenging work for them. It requires a lot of practice being together and working things out to set the stage for every one of these spontaneous epiphanies.

I imagine they may be tired when they get home!

Enjoy!

Last modified on Sunday, 03 November 2019 20:31
More in this category: « Mystery, Magic and Discovery

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