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Friday, 1 May 2015

What matters most!

I have been on the phone with lots of families over the last few days offering spaces in our re-opening Cook Road Children's Centre. (almost full!!)

Not unsurprisingly many ask me what the centre looks like?  Is is new? Is there new equipment? Many make the comparison to our newer centres hoping it will look similar (a tall order for a 17 year old space!).

I totally understand concerns about the environment parents are placing their children in and this is in no way meant to minimize those important questions.

For me, the space is just a container in which we do the important work of nurturing curiosity and honouring childhood.

A beautiful container is .... well.....a beautiful thing!  

We believe children, and the adults who care for them, deserve to spend their time in spaces built for them, that function for their needs, that soothe and inspire, that offer possibilities for discovery and creativity.  

I love this part of my work, designing these spaces and I keep the children and Educators at the forefront when choosing colours and finishes and cubbies and toilets!  We consider traffic flow, light, space to store things, space to build, beautiful outdoor spaces and SO much more....right down to draw pulls and the colour of grout!

But here is THE thing.....a container is just a container, no matter how lovely, it can only offer so much value.  

What matters the most, by many miles, is the Educators in the space. 

Educators who are lively, joyful, observant, attentive, engaged and curious.  Who are well trained and hopefully bring some experience of working with children and families.  Who daily offer children ways to think deeply, explore ideas, take on new knowledge, learn how to be good citizens.....and how to clean up and wash their hands!  

It is my daily privilege to see such Educators at work.  

I hear their voices, see them come alongside to comfort or guide or celebrate with children.  Always building the trust in relationship that is necessary for the days we spend together to be joyful and productive and engaging.

I see them add things to the space every day to spark the children's interest, to provoke a new thought or line of discussion, to try a new art form.  

I hear laughter and cheers and singing....I smell baking (and the necessary evil of bleach - for make no mistake there are many many chores that have to be done to keep the space healthy and functional), I see them walking outside hand in hand a child, an Educator, in conversation...... living life together in all its joy and messiness in as authentic a way as we can manage. 

The space matters.  

The Educators matter much much more!