At our center, in the afternoons, we combine and reconfigure groupings as child care staff finish their shifts, and go home.So the groups are mixed age groups more often. There are special challenges with this as children are feeling some stresses from the long day, and missing their families, which can make transitions harder, and it can be hard for the children moving to groups - as well as the children who are adjusting to changes happening to their group dynamics, as new children move in.
I like to have the children outside for the end of the day as the outdoors are more relaxing for the children, and playing outside in the fresh air is a great way to end the day.
However the temperature has been too cold for the last three weeks for outside play, so we've worked at finding creative, fun ways to play indoors.
The last two days provided respite from the cold, and we were so happy to get outside and play, and then today was stormy so back inside
I made sure today I had lots of paint for the easel, and some pretty tissue for collage, and a sensory box filled with rice for scooping - and the children happily painted, scooped, glued, drew - played in the housekeeping, and dressup, as well as blocks, etc. - all the tried and true standbys.And so our afternoon breezed by - Timothy, the oldest (names changed), who is often quiet and reserved,built a tower using all the Wedgits, and called excitedly "Brenda, I made a tower!", with pride apparent in his whole body; and Meredith, who sometimes gets teary at the end of the day as she wants her Mom, lay contentedly on the rug, with her head on a pillow, daydreaming and talking to herself.And Jenna, who has been showing so much caring for her friends, found a new way to console a friend, by getting the child's family photo and giving it to her to hold.(Each child has a family photo in a frame in our room).
And so I am just so grateful for every little thing I have learned and picked up over the years and in my training - that in early childhood education we have simple, tried and true ways to engage children, and soothe children, helping teachers and kids turn an afternoon into a meaningful, happy time that may one day be a happy memory.