A Day with the Young Ones

Friday 23rd June was a day filled with the undeterred enthusiasm of children caught up in their own world.

In normal day-to-day goings I don’t usually have that much interaction with young children. During school the timetable is managed so that we do not often cross paths with members of the primary school and I do not have any siblings at home. Therefore Friday was a little out of the ordinary for me, having to interact with younger children on two occasions, although it was a very rewarding experience nonetheless.

The first event was judging a history play competition for year 4. My old history teacher (who now teaches primary school) was looking for someone to come in and judge two plays put on by year 4 kids as part of their Greek day and she really wanted someone to come in for the children to perform to so that they felt they got something out of all their practice. Many people were out of school during that day, whether it was due to Geography field work or helping at Meadowgate school in the morning, however I convinced my Spanish class to come and help out.

Now in my A Level years it was very interesting to remember the different class dynamic which is present in the younger years. The children threw themselves into every activity, sometimes with a little too much enthusiasm and vigour, and so a few challenges become apparent as they practised in their groups: everyone wanted to be heard and few wanted to listen. As the teacher pointed out listening to the narrator is key to know your place in the story, although whether this message hit every home is questionable.

Despite the potential setbacks, both plays were fantastic. The creativity and confidence in performance to strangers was highly commendable and yet a winner had to be picked. I very quickly realised that I had to present the news of victory in a very reserved manner: no one group was bad, just one group had a slightly better aspect-but both groups were amazing…! The group that lost continued to be dejected and one child even whimpered “I’m sad” drawing a finger down his face in the shape of a tear (thankfully not a real tear!) and yet all was forgotten as the teacher introduced the next activity.

I have to say that the morning really helped me to remember the small world of a child. Every disappointment, no matter how small, is heart breaking but it is as quickly forgotten as it came. And yet taking a closer inspection at ourselves now, we aren’t really much different. Granted, we have matured and learned to control our emotions, however I doubt that you could say that you never ever feel heart-broken anymore when a tiny setback occurs, even when you are aware of how insignificant it is.

My second interaction with children occurred when I volunteered to help at the Meadowgate School Festival in the afternoon, an event that I mentioned many people were volunteering at in the morning. Meadowgate Academy is a school for children with special needs and the festival was an opportunity for everyone to come together and have a good time with enormous support from the local community. Given the nature of this event it was difficult to directly help out but it was a wonderful opportunity to interact with the children.

Two very contrasting examples stick in mind. My friend and I were meant to keep an eye on the children (even though there were three other staff members there and a total of around 5 kids in the area) and a boy holding a toy lion came up to us. So we politely asked him whether it was a lion he was holding. And he screamed in our faces and run away a couple of feet. And then came back looking like he wanted to start a conversation. So we asked him what his name was. And he screamed and run away. And again looked like he wanted to have a conversation. Another boy was standing nearby and started to talk with us. In contrast he held a perfectly normal conversation, ranging from his name to the weather (as it was beginning to drizzle) to his favourite activity at the fair.

Although we did not know their disabilities, these two boys show a clear example of the difference in how their minds work and how they respond to people. That is something to be very considerate of, especially since I want to become a doctor.  I will have to work with a great range of people and this day has really helped me to have a better understanding of how to interact with children. They see the world in a very different way to us, a way which we have long forgotten as we have grown up although it doesn’t make it any less important to respect. Additional challenges may be thrown up when people find it harder to communicate clearly and this is also something that every doctor has to bear in mind.

Overall it was a very enjoyable day and I’m very thankful that I got the opportunity to interact with the wider community.

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