Region: South
Municipality: Fredericia
Year: 2020
Sara Lindhardt and Jannie Testern
Day care: The daycare workers in the play group at the Brohaven daycare centre

Daycare teacher Marie-Luise Junker

The PlayArt programme in the Erritsø district has clearly been an inspiring and educational programme. The enthusiasm for the course is expressed through the daycare workers' stories, yours truly's observations along the way, video recordings; which exude joy and enthusiasm in both children and adults, as well as parents' feedback to the daycare workers about what the children tell and show at home.

Despite challenges with COVID-19, dropouts of daycare workers due to resignation and sick leave, and not being able to attend the playgroup, which led to some postponements and finally, due to logistical challenges, the cancellation of the last part of the programme where the daycare workers had to plan and carry out themselves, the daycare workers have gained some useful knowledge. This both about the children's participation and participation opportunities and awareness of their own role in this context.

As we unfortunately did not reach the last part, where the daycare workers themselves had to take the field, this snout narrative will deal with the first part of the process, but also a conclusion with the daycare workers' reflections on how they can continue the project when this becomes possible.

What have we learned?  

When we started, we set learning targets for the process - both for the children and the adults and we defined actions and what evidence we wanted to see.

The goal for the children was that the "..dare to stand up and be active and be on the move." The measures taken to support this were to "the adults must lead the way and show the children the way." 

The children knew after the first few times what was going to happen because the framework was clear - it was the same songs, the same mats to sit on, the same adults present doing the same things etc. They experienced participating and engaged adults leading the way.

So we saw children who were clearly very engaged in what was going on. They became more and more actively involved - some of the older ones were once active and attentive for as long as an hour and a half. Even the very young ones, who at first preferred to be very close to their own adult, started to move around because they were engrossed in what was going on. Even a crying child in a bathroom during a nappy change couldn't take the children's attention away from what was happening in the room.

The above testifies to the fact that if the adult takes the lead, as both the day care workers and the artists have done, and creates the framework and shows the children the way, then this creates the prerequisite for the children's participation and therein arises the common third, which creates security in the children and thus we can create the prerequisite for development and learning.

Whether the children can transfer the learning they have gained through the programme to other contexts has been difficult to observe due to the challenges with the programme. However, they are generally very interested in song and movement.

The goal for the adults was that "get more movement in and be more creative in your physical expression and thinking and push some boundaries". 

The measures taken to support this were to "the adults follow the children's initiatives and take them seriously and the adults do not allow themselves to be limited but offer in....and playing at the children's level."

The day care workers saw artists who were motivated and highly committed, and they had planned a really good programme. The only challenge for the daycare workers was that there were some songs that they did not know beforehand, which made it difficult to be 100% participating at the beginning. But they tried their best and the artists were good at involving young and old. If the daycare workers had seen/heard the songs beforehand, they might have had a different starting point.

The artists managed to capture the children's attention throughout the process, which meant that the daycare workers could also keep their spirits up and join in the "game". The fact that all the children were involved meant that the day-care workers did not have to leave all the time, which created greater conditions for working purposefully on becoming more creative in bodily expression and thinking and transcending boundaries.

The artists, through their body language, facial expressions and language, managed to inspire the daycare workers and make them curious about themselves in interaction with the children. The daycare workers found it natural to participate and to cross boundaries because, just like for the children, it was a safe environment where nothing was wrong.

Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, we did not get to the part where the day-care workers themselves had to set up programmes, which means that it has not been possible for the day-care workers to try things out on their own and thus to work purposefully with measures. However, one childminder says that she has since dared to stand up at her daughter's wedding and give a speech, which she has never dared to do before. We have no evidence to conclude whether this course of action has made a difference, but it has certainly had a positive impact.

How does the PlayArt programme contribute to the curricula in the district?  

The process with LegeKunst is closely linked to the district's work with the pedagogical values and curriculum themes and the district's common learning vision in the 0-18 years area.

The learning approach is based on the idea that learning and development take place through active participation in meaningful learning communities, and all children are important participants in the social community with the competences they have. The pedagogical staff provides a developing, inclusive and appreciative learning environment with presence, empathy, mutual respect and care. Play is understood as an essential part of a learning context where there is room for failure. Playful learning takes place both through children's spontaneous initiatives and through adult-led play and guidance.

The curriculum themes have been put into practice in earnest. In relation to culture, aesthetics and community, communication and language, as well as body and movement, the children and adults have been given the opportunity to express themselves in different ways, which has contributed to the development of personal competences - daring to go beyond some limits and to be participatory. It has also contributed to the social dimension of being part of a community and that everyone could participate - big and small, on equal terms but with each their own prerequisite for participation. Through the theme, which was animals, the artists also involved nature and the children had the opportunity to learn about the sounds of animals, what they eat, etc.

What are we still curious about?  

The day-care workers say that the programme has inspired and motivated them to continue on their own when they return to the playgroup. The whole process, in which they will be involved themselves, is prepared and ready to be rolled out in practice. They express that in this way they will force themselves to work on the goal of the adults - to become more physical in their expression in interaction with the children and to create a framework and take the lead.

So there's a curiosity about how it will go and whether they manage to get beyond the stage edge and capture the children's attention without having the performers on the sidelines.

To help and inspire them, they will use the recorded videos of all the songs on the teams and find inspiration in them.

As an educator I will give them sparring along the way, possibly with video recordings as a sparring tool to spot both the small success stories and where there is potential for further development.