Over this year I have asked you to think with me about many different things facing young children, their families and the practitioners who work with them.
I began the year by writing about the folly of the reintroduction of baseline assessment, a theme that has troubled many practitioners and parents as the year has gone on – and continues to do so.
While some recent policies have been worried over and challenged, the global context in which young children are growing up – hunger, homelessness and conflict – makes the need to teach young children how to live peacefully even more important.
There have been some difficult times during 2015, which have led us to worry about the future for young children – what kind of world will they inherit as adults? How can we achieve a global state of calm, and trust, and peace?
So, I want to offer you something to make you smile. Robert Fulgham’s famous essay, from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, suggests it would be a better world if everyone had milk, cookies and a nap every day. So, how about everyone bakes gingerbread in the week before Christmas and shares it with friends and family?
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients: 350g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 125g butter, 175g light brown sugar, 1 egg, 4 tbsp golden syrup.
To make: Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon together. Add the butter, mix until it looks like breadcrumbs then add the sugar. Beat the egg and golden syrup, add to the mixture and combine to make a dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Roll the dough to ¼in thickness and use cutters to make gingerbread people and shapes. Place them on two lined baking trays.
Pop into a preheated oven to 180C for around 15 minutes and until lightly golden. Leave your biscuits to cool (if you can!), decorate, pass to a friend, eat.
Bake gingerbread with the children in the days before Christmas. Let them enjoy the smell, taste and texture of the dough. And as you bake and share your gingerbread, you may wish to call to mind the angels in the story of the first Christmas, who sang ‘Peace on Earth’.