Can we use the ‘F Word’ in Early Years Environments? A voice from early years leadership

In these troubled times of crisis management and a global world that is discovering a new sense of self and identity albeit within isolation, can we sensibly use the ‘F’ word! In this turbulent uncertainty during the Covid 19 virus we present narrative and voice from dominance filtered into our homes via the media but can we really begin to articulate how we really feel? By exploring alternative F words: Fear, frustration, frosty, frantic, fractious, fragmented, and frenetic? Perhaps now we are faced with fluctuating crossroads, reparations and reflections in our psyche that delve into areas of our life that we feel may need to consider forgiveness. Can we safely use the F word? Those F words that I refer to are our FEELINGS.
Even if children say nothing they are affected by a variety of roles, modelled all around them. Adults who deal differently with their feelings who try to keep them tightly bound and firmly controlled whilst others display an impassioned and impartial intensity gripped by understandable fear and anxiety. Parents and practitioners can struggle to deal with the impending crisis and how to effectively engage in social and emotional dialogue with children. Children need to know that it is important to share their natural feelings and to manage the level of stress that can be transferred within families, nurseries, schools and through social media friendships. Practitioners need to continue to strengthen their secure relationships with children and parents but how does this work given the isolation and the two metre rule?
Mental health has been notably on the increase before the developing Covid 19 so how do we support parents to build stronger resilience? By recognising the importance of the F word and sharing the depth of our feelings produced by corona induced anxiety. We are invaded by media coverage that presents a picture of the world that we have no control over. Families in areas of deprivation are still faced with poverty, health and dietary inequalities living in over-crowded housing. Our families have a high percent of domestic violence and women who are now socially as well as economically captured by their abuser. Early years practitioners must develop new styles of leadership that are functional during crisis. This requires a courageous social justice leadership approach. One that facilitates open spaces and holds uncomfortable tensions, anguish and ambivalent feelings.
Leaders and practitioner need to further understand the effects and signs of stress in early years children by enhancing key skills with which to support emotional health checks for children daily at the beginning and the end of each day. Practitioners already tune into their children and should recognise those who are quieter or more reserved in their play. Maybe explore the things that children are thankful for and enjoy at home and in the settings. Develop activities where children can work together and give each other support. Encourage kind acts and more independent skills.
As reflective practitioners the early years field has a duty to fulfill creative open spaces that are filled with dialogue. Spaces, which can allow expressions of grief, sadness, remorse, and anger. These feelings and emotions can create some struggles for the majority of adults. This work may need the support of therapeutic play and interventions by skilled therapeutic practitioners.
Since social isolation It does feel like an eternity since hearing the children in our setting playing together. As practitioners we are privileged in seeing and hearing children articulate the world as they see it. These experiences bring a smile and at times we can indulge in the powerful effects of gregarious, fun- loving laughter. Hearing children laughing continuously together is so infectious and a road to healing for all of us.
If ever there was a time to use the F word that time I feel is… Now.

One thought on “Can we use the ‘F Word’ in Early Years Environments? A voice from early years leadership

  1. An insightful blog post – thank you for sharing with us! Feelings are so important, especially forgiveness and kindness.

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