At Nania_Imitation

Today I would like to talk about another one of the three major learning principles, that is “Imitation”.  Young children have the natural ability to imitate.  They learn through imitation.  They learn to speak and walk by observing and imitating the people who speak and walk around them.  The imitating ability of children under 7 years old is very powerful.  It is amazing for example how small children can learn poems and songs in different languages so quickly.  It comes through the faculty of imitation.

It is not only words and behaviour that they imitate.  Children also pick up moods and attitudes through imitating people’s feelings and inner quality.  Knowing how small children are always imitating and learning from their surroundings, we adults need to ask ourselves if we are being good models or not.  If they have a stable environment and good models to imitate during their young age, children will grow up in a wholesome way.

At Nania, we gather together at 8.00 am in the hall to start the day.  We hold hands and pray for a happy, healthy and safe day for the children.  As care givers, we need to prepare ourselves to work happily together as well as be good models individually for the children. Everyday, at the beginning of the day, we gather (eight of us) to coordinate carrying the day as best we can. The smiling faces of the staff make a great start to the day.

In the classroom, we teachers will do some simple and recurring work, such as preparing for class work, clearing up, folding napkins, or making handicraft.  As we work with love, we fill the space with joy.  The children will sense the comfort, which supports them to feel happy and safe in the space and play well.  The simple and recurring work allows us to maintain our observation of the children without difficulty.  This is a reason, when parents visit Nania for their child’s Birthday or Farewell, we ask them to do some work.  If adults are just watching them and doing nothing or talking loud, children will not feel comfortable in the space and cannot concentrate.  When unsettled, children loose focus of their behaviour and often end up running around.

With their inclination to imitate, absorption and learning through imitation, unsupervised TY viewing can allow unwanted influences to shape the child’s behaviour, inner feelings and attitude.

What has been observed, is often tried out by the child as part of his/her learning experience.  At Nania, the children will often want to play out the TV characters that have taken their interest during creative playtime.  Their play in such cases is often loud and follows somewhat fixed roles and story patterns.  The boys often imitate action characters; adopt aggressive fighting roles in their play, including making electronic type action sounds, short loud speeches in line with popular TV cartoon type characters.  Such play is somewhat prescribed, limited in scope and not as rich in social interaction, imagination and speech formation.

Playing out defined scripted roles does not encourage children to act out freely.  At Nania, we tell the children TV cartoon type characters live in their TV world and do not come to class.  We direct them to play out less defined but more human archetypal characters such as Mother, Father, Doctors, Shopkeepers, Princes and Princesses, etc..  When acting out such roles without a predefined script, the imagination of the child is free to evolve a different story each time and respond spontaneously to others in the play.  The interaction is more social, less aggressive and foster more meaningful speech and behaviour. Mitigating the influence of TV is a challenge in child education in today’s world.  Whilst the debate about the good and bad influences of TV continues, there is no dispute that TV has an influence on the development of the child.  We encourage parents to exercise supervision over the kind of TV programmes their children are exposed to.

At Nania we discourage imitation of TV cartoon characters for the reasons described above. I wonder what you think of it. Consequently we discourage bringing merchandise (toys, etc.) associated with them to the class.

Enclosed with this issue of Nania News is a copy of an article on the subject, Television and the Growing Child, from latest issue of New View, a magazine with a focus on contemporary work based on Rudolf Steiner’s research, also called Anthroposophy.


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