Grown-ups are horses, there is loss when we iron out the rhythms of childhood speech, and you don’t build a house from the roof down… Kids Thrive has pulled together its top five insights on child-led change for 2015.
1. Children are capable of very deep learning. They are also very skilled at not scaring the horses. Grown-ups are horses – prone to shying away from complex conversations, easily spooked by a soulful child. We can afford to be a lot deeper in the presence of children so they can be less vigilant in trying not to scare us.
Kids Thrive artist: ‘When we make up songs we bring our very deep feelings. Who here has deep feelings?’
Eight-year-old boy: ‘Oh, thank god!’
2. Working with adults doesn’t always involve children but working with children always involves adults. For kids to try and learn new things, much of our creative work is about finding a way to engage the adult in a co-discovery relationship with the child. Our biggest trip-ups have occured when we have forgotten to be tender with the adults who understand their job brief to be to ‘control the kids’. (Refer back to grown-ups are horses in point one.)
3. Children who feel understood and liked are more able to commit to learning, friendship and community building. They are more present and, in Kids Thrive language, more ‘in tune’ with themselves and what is going on around them.
Principal: ‘I’ve never seen Adhem take initiative like that. He is usually so shy he can barely speak in class. He was so passionate in that discussion about fairness. It brought tears to my eyes.’
4. Through making songs and stories in their own words, children can build new stories and re-make old stories of their own lives and the lives of their communities. When creatively collaborating with children don’t paraphrase their speech. Ironing out the rhythms of childhood speech loses the deep insights and reflections that only children can bring as they experience everything for the first time. As adults this is what we can long for – to speak in our mother tongue, to speak fluent child.
‘A person not inside my family is still part of my world.’ (From a cultural conversation on ‘being fair to people who are different from me’ with 6 and 7-year-olds from Holy Child Primary School in Dallas, that became a lyric in their song Across the Sea.)
5. You don’t build a house from the roof down – if you want to build a strong community build strong foundations in children for immediate communal results. (‘Children are our future’ requires a coin in the Kids Thrive Swear Jar). An investment in children is far-reaching with surprising triggers for the whole community to lift its game.