I need space

B’s Playwork Assessor had joined us to carry out the pick up for today’s after school club session, and make some observations. We collected the infants and engaged in some light humour with the children before waiting for the juniors on the climbing structure in their playground.

A few of the children and been exploring various play opportunities on structure when M came over to join us. He began with a verbal tirade of abuse directed at N, and attempted to drag him off the climbing structure and swung  his feet in N’s direction. It became visible that N may have been in discomfort as he began to shed tears, and lifted his jumper over his head and rocked backward and forward. N was silent throughout. B comforted N by kneeling down to his eye level and offered a tissue. She then began to encourage M through conversation and communicated that it would be nice to apologise to N if it had been an accident. M appeared reluctant to apologise or acknowledge what B had said to him or his actions against N. I listened and observed with the assessor, as I had been speaking with another child and felt that B was in complete control of the situation.

During the walk over from juniors to infants M had been reluctant to put on his yellow jacket, as worn by all children during pick ups. Unlike him he refused, and said that he wasn’t in the mood, I asked if he was o.k, he responded that he was fine but not in the mood. I extended by asking if he could leave the jacket around his neck, again he stated that he wasn’t in the mood and chose to walk off away from group. I was aware where he was heading and led the remainder of group with to the hall.

On arrival he had been seated around the snack table. I chose not to extend on what had happened outside and signed the children in while they played. My observation having worked with M for a few years had been that he didn’t appear himself today, I therefore allowed him his own space to play. He later asked for the cricket to be taken out, and he proceeded to use the bat for his own varied play. I was able to observe from a distance his communication with the group who wanted to play cricket. He chose to bat miniature cars around the hall and use the Lego from the table in a similar manner. I observed that at no stage had he made verbal interaction with anyone else, this lasted for about 5 minutes. Again I chose not to intervene, as no one would have been harmed by his actions.

A few of the children had indicated that they wanted to play outside, and one of the children from reception bellowed out from their little voice box “let’s go, let’s go, let’s hit outside”. B remained inside with another playworker and her assessor. Another playworker followed us outside. M joined us and participated in the football opportunity, however appeared irritated by others ability and chose to insult and attempt to draw others into varied disputes during the game. I observed him being spoken to by one of his peers  throughout, and they appeared to be encouraging him to calm down.

The children made their own adjustment to the game, which I thought had been a positive idea. It involved ‘transferring ‘players from one team to another, in order to keep results close. This happened at their own agreed time period. I had earlier been aided to bring down loose parts from shed, and used breeze blocks stacked three high with a plank of wood across the top to form low goals. Some of the children not immediately involved in this game used the remaining loose parts with imagination.

Two year two children explained the game to us. For this game no goalie would be required, this would enable the children to move freely around the pitch. A small boundary using plastic cones had been formed, if the ball came out of area the children would roll it back in under arm. Penalties would also be taken from the middle of the pitch with the kicker allowed to take one step before striking the ball, with no goalie. There appeared to be an air of fun and appreciation of the game, with more laughter and enjoyment than I could ever have envisaged. The game lasted about an hour and had not been remotely affected by the down pour of heavy rain for about 5-10 minutes. I had made the children aware that we could remain outside regardless of the weather, many opted for this. I observed that as wet as we had become, the children made a good judgement to reduce their speed and adapted to the wet playing surface.

The time had now been around 5.30pm with only the children participating in the football outside with T and myself. I had asked T if he would take my place in game while I began to collect the equipment to be return to the shed. Having returned from the shed and turned the corner into the playground I saw numerous multi-coloured plastic cones swirling in the air coming from M’s direction and landing upon C’s head.

M’s reaction had been to turn his face and shout out some explicit adult language as colourful as the multi-coloured as the cones. C and the other children engaged in the football chose to walk away and head inside. M and one other child had now been the only children outside with T and myself. I took the opportunity to speak with M about his action in today’s session. “ I need space. I seriously need my space”

My intention was not for M to make an apology, but merely for him to reflect on how his behaviour and how it could affect the way he communicated or interacted in the future with other children. We spoke about his manner and conduct with the N and B, at the start of the session, and I elaborated that I thought it was out of character; however his actions appeared to disrupt other children’s play opportunities. M stated that he didn’t want to apologise earlier as he felt that N had been pretending to he hurt.

The nature of our conversation appeared to have allowed  him to speak with me freely, and he acknowledged why I felt it necessary to speak with him,  I  also made M aware that I felt he had let himself down today. We explored the importance of having varied day’s of behaviour, about sometimes not have to answer or justify our actions and normality to have periods where we all push boundaries.

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