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LETTER OF THE WEEK

OBSERVANT CHILDREN

In response to 'Rethinking play' (Nursery World, 23 September), do we expect that children who are on the periphery always to wish to join in? Is it not true that children as well as adults observe from a distance to see how to behave, act, and play in certain situations?

Was it the best thing to do to intervene in the play of three children to persuade another child to be included in the play?

A practitioner reflected to me during training on a scenario that should make us think about 'sharing':

- Boy A was playing with ten train trucks on the floor

- Boy B asks for some of the trucks

- Boy A says 'No, I am playing with them'

- Boy B tells a practitioner, who then goes over to Boy A with him and asks if Boy B can have some trucks

- 'No,' is his response, 'I won't be able to play my game'.

When children act out situations, they plan, create and practise their roles. Should we, as adults, then intervene to try to include the child in their play, or would an alternative be to offer another activity? Or is it alright for a child to sit and observe others at play?

Sometimes I feel that children can learn a lot from the role model of other children's play, but this can be misinterpreted by adults as boredom.

Would Lulu in the article have been happy to continue watching? In the minds of the three girls, there were only three characters, and so they appear to have pleased Fiona, the teacher. But by their reaction to the teacher's question, did it appear that they then felt they had done the 'wrong' thing?

It's very thought-provoking to consider what's going on in the minds of children during their imaginative play. They had set the scene, allocated roles and were deep in their play ...

Bev Amison, director, BACL, Newcastle

- Our letter of the week wins £30 worth of books

WHO'S IN CONTROL?

Wendy Ellyatt ('Behind the scenes', 21 October) should not be surprised at the amount of paperwork generated by the Early Years Foundation Stage. All she needs to do is to watch a few episodes of the classic television series 'Yes, Minister'.

She may think she is in charge, but in fact, Sir Humphrey is. The paperwork is there to keep her busy - and stop her thinking - while the Government gets on with the formulation of policy.

And she should heed the words of Karl Marx, 'That which can be measured can be controlled.'

The emphasis on bureaucracy is nothing to do with education and everything to do with controlling the people who wish to disseminate learning and entrenching the power of 'the establishment'.

If this means that talented people are driven away from the profession, then this is a price that Government, no matter what it may protest, is quite willing to pay in order to retain control of the agenda.

Christopher Price, Merton Court School, Sidcup, Kent

EMPATHY AT HOME

I was heartened to read the article about the 'Roots of Empathy' programme, and in particular the difference the Wave Trust made to the little boy Sam ('With feeling', 14 October).

As a registered childminder, it reminded me that I and thousands of others like me are working in a situation where empathy is a part of everyday life in a home setting. Childminders care for small numbers of children from a very wide range of ages, which can include six-week-old babies right through to young people in secondary school.

In my setting, as part of our daily routine, we are able to talk to young children about caring for babies. We find that young children mostly want to help with the care of a younger child and we celebrate each milestone as the baby grows up into a toddler, a pre-schooler and then moves on to primary school.

Susanna Dawson, chair of the National Childminding Association and registered childminder

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The Editor, Nursery World, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP

letter.nw@haymarket.com

020 8267 8401

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