Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

Relationships – A Baby’s First Steps

One of the theories I have learnt about that most intrigues me is the ‘attachment theory’ by Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk.

Zeedyk argues that “babies come into the world already connected to other people, already looking for connection. They come into the world ready to be moulded by adults” (Education Scotland, 2016). What Zeedyk is claiming here is that children’s brains are fragile and can be shaped easily when they are very young, meaning that the adults they are surrounded by every day have a massive impact on their development. Her theory argues that babies adapt their brains to the type of environment they live in. For example, if a child is growing up in a loud and abusive household they may be scanning and looking out for danger constantly, rather than learning about new things and developing their language and social skills through things such as play.

Throughout her theory, Zeedyk sometimes describes children’s brain development as a sabretooth tiger (this is if their behaviour results from their fear of danger) or a teddy bear (emphasising the child’s need for comfort when going through these fears). Zeedyk’s theory shows that children learn best through social interaction and that they rely on others. This should be taken into consideration when teaching children, as building up that relationship of honesty and trust is key for children’s development. This can be through simple things such as ensuring the children I teach have a safe, welcoming and warm environment to play in. This can help with children’s confidence, independence and resilience as well as allowing children to build and grow as individuals through the use of creativity. This opportunity to communicate and build relationships with other children is prime for their future development and life-long learning.

Education Scotland (2016) Pre-Birth to Three: Doctor Suzanne Zeedyk – Importance of relationships (Date last accessed 15 Jan 2018)

Expressive Arts – Creativity and Confidence

Before my group’s Dance workshop on Friday the 11th of January, I was looking forward to seeing what would be involved. As a student who loved Drama in high school, I am a big fan of and believer in the Expressive Arts as a way of teaching many lessons to children.

To start the workshop, Eilidh began with some simple exercises that allowed us to not only warm up physically but prepared us mentally for the tasks we would be taking part in. This is an effective way of waking children up and motivating them to fully take part in Dance. Expressive Arts interpret a lot of other areas of the curriculum. For example, when doing the warm-up exercises we were also practicing Physical Education (PE) as we were exercising our bodies and muscles. Music was also playing during this which we did the movements to, showing that Dance can also teach children some basics of Music, beat and rhythm. The curriculum we teach children will always be interlinked in various ways, and the Expressive Arts can be a great way of showing this. As a student teacher and professional, it is significant that I am aware of the different areas of the curriculum and the ways that they connect so that this can be clearly communicated to the children.

After the warm up activities, we were told to get into pairs and to think of as many ways we could travel across the room as possible. My partner and I came up with things such as skipping, hopping, jumping, star-jumping and many more. This links closely to the Curriculum for Excellence: Expressive Arts EXA 1-08a that states ‘I enjoy creating short dance sequences, using travel, turn, jump, gesture, pause and fall, within safe practice’. Here Eilidh was showing that a simple exercise allows children to imagine and present the basics for their own sequences of movement, giving them opportunities to explore in an environment they know is safe to do so. We were then told to present our favourite movement to half the class so that if anyone liked the look of the movement they could interpret it into their own. This relates to EXA 1-09a / EXA 2-09a, stating that ‘Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express my ideas, thoughts and feelings through creative work in dance’. This allows children to work collaboratively with one another and to use each others creations and ideas to inspire one another.

Towards the end of the workshop, we were teamed into slightly bigger groups so that we could create and perform a final dance piece. This involved a starting position, one of the movements practiced earlier, a turn, another movement and then a final pose. This allowed us to practice what we had learnt throughout the workshop and bring everything together so that we could perform it to the rest of the class. Joining the different aspects of the dance together was almost like a puzzle, as we had to think carefully about which movement should go where. EXA 1-10a states ‘I am becoming aware of different features of dance and can practice and perform steps, formations and short dance’. Short activities such as these allows children to gradually gain an understanding for Dance and it’s features by giving it a go themselves. When presenting and performing, Dance and other Expressive Arts can help to boost not only children’s confidence but also their self-esteem and resilience. These are only a few of the important features of Expressive Arts that I took away from this workshop.

‘What made you want to teach?’

‘What made you want to teach?’

I get asked this question many times, and yet the answers are endless. There are so many reasons why I want to work with children and stem out into the world of collaborative teaching. However, my desire to become a primary teacher was first ignited when I was a young girl. My Granny told me stories about the rewarding warmth she felt when watching the children she taught grow into strong individuals. My goal one day is to also experience this worthwhile feeling.

Through this, I began to grasp at as many opportunities as possible to work with younger children, both within and out with my high school. I worked extremely hard at my subjects in school, making sure I was academically capable to study teaching at university. This included challenges in subjects I was never the most talented at, including maths, which eventually paid off in the end of my school career.

Although I had the grades to continue my education career at university, I was young for my year at school and felt mentally unprepared for the challenges I may experience away from home and in a new environment. While I also had practical experience in a variation of childhood settings, I wanted to take some time to branch out and experience more in the actual classroom setting. This led to my decision to train as a Childhood Practitioner at college for a year. This brought me so many vibrant learning opportunities, as I watched the children I worked with develop and flourish throughout the year.

Through my college course I learnt so much more about the responsibilities of a teacher in order to provide the best possible care and service for young people. I learnt valuable theory such as language development, the significance of safeguarding, and the most interesting to me which was the importance of play opportunities for children. Simply giving a child the chance to play outside can develop their sense of nature and resilience. It can also develop their ability to create stories, which can help to broaden their creativity and imagination. My growing love and interest for the topic of play was the centre of my University of Dundee interview presentation.

One experience from my college course that made me want to teach even more was when I was given the responsibility of planning a child-led learning and play activity for one of the children in my placement’s class. For this I had to use a range of planning tools such as Bloom’s Taxonomy, Tina Bruce’s 12 principles of free-flow play, narrative observation cards, the child’s personal learning profile and many more. Through this I noticed that the child thoroughly enjoyed drawing detailed pictures of dinosaur toys that they played with. I was able to pick out areas of development within the child’s learning, and set up an activity that was playful but also practised the child’s skills.

Planning activities and having that one-to-one time with children thoroughly secured my decision to go to university, as my passion for teaching continued to grow throughout my college experiences.