....continuing with another excerpt from a paper I have written for school...the topic is the essential needs of the child in the 3 phases of early childhood, with an emphasis on how we as adult caregivers and educators can best meet these needs...
The “young” child (age 3-5)
It is during this phase of development where we begin to see fantasy and even spontaneous play helping to build the body! At this time, we can support this essential need of play by offering unfinished play materials which will allow the child to “fill in the details” by way of their own unique life experiences. Children need a caregiver who models joy in work; taking the time to assist during clean up, washing the dishes with care and spirit. Children need to see care and love enter into all that we do.
The adult is a sort of “assistant” to the child from this point on. We lovingly help with personal care, carrying the rhythm, and providing nutrition, but we model through actions and thought ideally, not words or direct instruction. The child needs to feel safe and good in the presence of the adult. We can foster this by continuing on the path of self exploration and soul development; by truly believing that the world is good and loving our role as a student of life!
Another essential need for this (and each!) phase of early childhood is the need for rhythm. We can support this need by creating a flowing and predictable course of the day for the children, coupled by a sense of “there is always enough time”. Focusing on the tasks of the day; the curriculum of “life” guides us through the time spent together, rather than a rigid schedule and/or a planned activity filled morning.
Children also need us to respect the “hermit like” nature of their play by giving them the space, time, and the quieting of our adult fixated minds, wills, opinions, moods, and goals. We can begin to respect and support this by bringing them out of play slowly and gently when the time arises.
Striving to understand that all play is truly the work of the young child is integral for an educator. Ideally, ample time is allotted for all aspects of the day..dressing, undressing, washing, brushing. This is a time for mistakes, “corrections”, triumph, and even frustration. All aspects prove to be of great importance. The children at this age need us to be rhythm. They need an adult with strong life forces; someone who is active, healthy, well rested, and artistic. This is how we help them into the body which they have been given.