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18 - Young Children's Relationships with Staff and Peers in Nursery: Observations of Two Girls Aged 29 Months and 25 Months

Karnac Books ePub

Peter Elfer

Evolving understanding of nursery as a social context

For many people, the word “nursery” may be understood as meaning “nursery school”, an educational provision for 3- and 4-year-olds. However, in the United Kingdom, in much of Western Europe (but with the particular exception of Scandinavia), and in North America different kinds of nurseries have developed historically for different reasons, with different access criteria, different staffing, and different ways of working. This range of nurseries has included nursery schools for 3- and 4-year-olds, primarily focused on early learning, day nurseries for children from before their first birthday to statutory school age focused on family support, and nurseries for children whose parents are in full-time employment. In the last 30 years, these different kinds of nursery have increasingly been subject to policies of integration into combined nurseries offering all three functions: early education, family support, and child care for working parents. These nurseries take children from at least 6 months, if not earlier, for the equivalent of adults’ full-time working hours and often a little more, to allow for parents’ travel to and from work.

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1 - The Transition from Home to Nursery School

Karnac Books ePub

Isca Wittenberg

This chapter was written as a talk for a group of nursery teachers in Naples at an opening conference of a new project of ongoing workshops for nursery staff. It presents a lucid and evocative account of the problems young children encounter in facing the first substantial separation from mother and home and provides a fitting introduction to a collection of papers arising from observations of young children at home and in nursery settings. It is a reminder of a natural link between child psychotherapists and those involved in education in the early years. The upsurge of commitment to and investment in preschool education in Great Britain and elsewhere provides a new opportunity for such fruitful encounters.

Embarking on something new—a course of study, marriage, having a baby, moving to a new house—all such events tend to arouse hope of increasing our knowledge, pleasure, and fulfilment. It is such hopeful expectations that lead us throughout life to continue to seek out new experiences. The young child beginning to go to nursery is also filled with hope, expecting to find interesting toys to play with, to learn to do things that the older children he admires are able to do, and to meet children who might become his friends. Unless previous experiences have been too deeply disappointing, we continue throughout life to hope that some new event might bring us nearer to the fulfilment of what we desire. We may invest it with hope and indeed idealize it, but at the same time we are also likely to harbour fears and dread about what this unknown new situation will bring with it. We may be afraid that the new place or person will be frightening, the new child be unmanageable, unlovable; that the new teacher will be harsh, punitive, too demanding. We may be afraid that we will not have the physical, mental, or emotional capacity to live up to the new challenge; we may feel lost in new surroundings, confused and disturbed by new ideas. We may fear to be judged by others, thought to be stupid, ignorant, lacking talent; we may be afraid that we will be made to feel inadequate, laughed at, disliked, thrown out. All these thoughts tend to arise when we are faced with a new situation.

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9. Making Out in America: The Mouse and His Child

Rustin, Margaret; Rustin, Michael Karnac Books ePub

The Mouse and His Child is something of an American epic novel scaled down for child readers. It provides a double point of identification for its reader, both through the fantasy of a toy come to life (a theme shared with many earlier stories such as Pinocchio and The Little Wooden Horse1) and through the toy mouse’s being characterized as a child, with a child’s primary preoccupations. The mouse child’s longing and hope is to reconstitute a home and a family, remembered from his earliest days of consciousness in the dolls’ house in the toy shop, where an elephant sang him a lullaby and where there was a seal whom he later chose to be his adopted sister:

‘Maybe we could look for the elephant and the seal and the dolls’ house that used to be in the store with us/ said the child. ‘Couldn’t we, Papa?’

‘What in the world for?’ said the father.

‘So we can have a family and be cosy/ answered the child.

This mouse-child’s longings have the power to remake the world of this story, bringing about the marriage of his father, the adoption of a sister and three uncles (Frog, the kingfisher and the bittern) and the redemption of their main enemy, the gangster king of the dump, Manny Rat, and his eventual adoption as the fourth uncle. The potency of the child’s longings and dreams is a powerful realization of a child’s view of the world, made universal through the story, by constant reference to the main characters not by names, which they seem to lack, but as ‘the father’ and ‘the child’. In the context of this story, the moving force of the child’s hopes for his family also carries a specific social meaning.

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10. Inner Implications of Extended Traumas: Carrie’s War

Rustin, Margaret; Rustin, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Nina Bawden is a writer greatly enjoyed by children, and admired by adult readers of children’s fiction. Her work is full of themes that have also interested other good children’s writers: childhood recalled (as in Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden), the impact of moving house, especially town and country contrasts (as in E. Nesbit), wartime experience (as with Mary Norton’s Borrowers), the impact of family separations (also central in Bawden’s delightful book The Peppermint Pig); the meaning of magic and myth for children (also explored with varying success for example by Ursula Le Guin, Susan Cooper, and Alan Garner); the frightening aloneness of a child with a belief or fear which cannot be shared. In Carrie’s War, Nina Bawden tells the story of the wartime evacuation to a Welsh mining village of a child, Carrie, and her brother Nick. She attempts to show the way in which Carrie’s experience there is woven into her imaginative life and personality. Carrie revisits the place twenty years later with her own children; the story is set in the context of ‘la recherche du temps perdu’. The framing of the story is not wholly successful, but the intensely remembered events of the months of evacuation provide a moving and compelling encounter with twelve-year old Carrie, and repay a detailed reading.

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5 - An Observation of a Young Asian Child with Feeding Difficulties, Conceived Via Assisted Reproductive Technology

Karnac Books ePub

Anjali Grier

In this chapter I discuss my observation of a 3-year-old boy, whom I shall call Suraj. He is the second child of Asian parents and has a 7-year-old sister. His parents are both immigrants, having arrived in this country in their early adulthood, and appear to be in their early forties.

Both Suraj and his sister were conceived with the help of fertility treatments after their parents endured several years of painful disappointment at being unable to conceive naturally. His sister was conceived through IVF (in vitro fertilization), and Suraj was described as being a GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer) child. At our first meeting his mother poignantly described the great difficulty with which Suraj was conceived: the repeated disappointments of unsuccessful IVF treatments over three years, and their decision finally to accept the alternative of a GIFT baby—implying that the “gift” was possibly both the donation of an egg, as well as the miracle of their much-wanted second child, for whom they were deeply grateful.

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