With the Christchurch earthquake still fresh in everybody’s minds, children at many EC centres are playing ‘disaster’ games. I was recently in a centre where this was happening, and teachers were supporting children to problem-solve as part of their scenarios. As part of this problem-solving the centre had been visited by the local Ambulance, Police and Fire Service. They had also gone to see the emergency services at their bases. It was clear to me when observing the children’s play that they were using their (very extensive) knowledge about how to deal with an emergency and that they understood that in some situations they need to help each other.
At group sharing time later in the morning, one of the boys told of a situation at home on the weekend, where his Mum was being hurt by her partner. He had dialled 111, told the Police what was happening, and then taken his younger sibling outside to wait for them. This boy had only just turned four.
The teachers commented that for many children, their centre is the safest place and that they see their role as supporting children to cope in a wide range of situations. Teachers also understood that there are social service agencies involved with this family, and that the two children who attend need support, love, information and clear boundaries as they work through the turmoil in their lives.
When you see this kind of dramatic play happening how are you supporting them to manage should they be involved in a real-life emergency?
Written by Elaine Newton, Early Years Facilitator, Coromandel/Hauraki.