Storming through the doors of the Junior School on a Friday morning had never really been an interesting idea for us, English Language A-level students. However, five minutes after entering, we realized that the magical, egocentric children’s world was something worth observing.
We were separated in groups, observing nursery (aged 4-5) and pre-junior (aged 5-6) classes with the target of correlating theory with practice. Up to then, we had not had the chance to observe children’s language development in different ages so closely.
Only armed with the key theories in mind, chatting with the children gave us the opportunity to expand not only our full understanding but also an experience that many of us had not vividly encountered before. What a treat to listen in to the teacher explaining phonetic sounds through playing with musical instruments. Or the engaging and relaxed environment- the teacher and students sitting cross-legged on the carpet- conducive to team work and listening.
A four-year old’s response to “What is your mother’s name?” as “mummy”, undeniably caused laughter in the room, and when a five-year old’s grimaced when we observed “It seems nice to be able to play with the other children”, it reminded us of that childish egocentrism – the very simplicity of how a child sees himself within the context of his world. Because, obviously, five-year-olds are not small: they are BIG!
Needless to say, it was an experience to remember!