May 6, 2019

I never expected the children’s workshop to be this exhausting – and I wasn’t even the one actually guiding/facilitating the children. From the early preparations in the morning, to the mindfulness during the workshop itself, to the post-evaluations after each day – it really takes a lot of dedication and commitment to plan and execute a Reggio-inspired children’s workshop.

Over the past 4 days, I’ve come to realize that indeed, the world has plenty of information, but not enough inspiration. The last day, where children built the boat with yakult bottles that had holes and cups that spilled water, was the most memorable for me. It was unexpected and I was very shocked at the mess initially. How are we going to clean up? What if the water drips downstairs? What if they spilled water on themselves?

Then it dawned on me that all these worries are precisely why many parents (including my own) would tend not to let their children engage in such activities. We can’t actually blame them, since a classroom setting is very different from home, especially if parents are the ones cleaning up. But I was truly amazed and I loved how in-the-moment everything was – the kids were genuinely happy and they were so carefree and uninhibited.

That particular moment for me, was overwhelming. I was inspired to be more flexible, and understood that, like the children, not everything has to be thought through so thoroughly. Spontaneity is one trait that I think everyone loses as they age, perhaps because there are other more important things to do – but I think it is important that we let go and let loose from time to time.

The workshop gave me insight that everyday is truly a fresh start. Seeing how the children came into our space each day with bright smiles and curious eyes, it really gave me an unexplainable feeling that each day is genuinely a fresh start for a child and how unlike adults, children do not face each day with problems or worries from the previous day. Today is different from yesterday, and tomorrow will be another fun one filled with whole new adventures. As they made their way into our space each day, I could tell that the kids were not seeing it as yet another same old day, but a brand new one they were excited to take on. This made me wonder, why then do adults only feel this sense of new beginning on January 1st each year? As hectic as our lives may be, hustling and bustling away, I feel that it remains up to each of us to purposefully give ourselves a chance to start each day anew with an open mind.

With regards to the workshop planning itself, I have also learnt that things will always be subjected to changes and we need to be ready for them. For instance, the participants may not be how we imagined, or that the activities are not resonating with them. Given that there are no rehearsals for any of these children’s workshops, back-up plans are really important. All the evaluations at the end of each day showed me how much effort is put into ensuring that each and every child is enjoying him or herself, and also to ensure that what we set up the next day will allow them to build on their interests, resonate with their inquiries and spur their curiosities. It really isn’t easy at all.

I now wonder how differently I might have been if I’ve had similar chances as those 6 children to think out of the box, to be encouraged to design and create something that is uniquely mine. Personally, I don’t consider myself a creative person - I’ve grown up being taught what is right and what is wrong, what is normal and what should be done. I was that kid who was taught to color within the lines in the coloring book, to write neatly and read quietly. I’ve never been one to explore my surroundings, because I am always placed in situations where I am supposed to watch, listen, and learn. The comfort and familiarity being on the receiving end of information is the reason I think I am not creative, and I do things just as how the majority would. I’ve never thought of it as a problem - or at least it has not caused me any issues so far - but this experience has certainly planted a seed of thought in my mind regarding the debate of nature versus nurture. Are babies really a blank piece of canvas that needs specific kinds of nurturing to become colorful and creative? Or is it an innate thing that already predisposes babies and children to creative elements? Can certain kinds of nurturing change the nature or personality that we are born with? Am I the way I am because I was born this way, or because I was brought up in a certain way?

Written by: 

Daphne Ang

Rockstar Communicator - The Dimple Loft

Daphne is currently an undergraduate in Psychology at the National University of Singapore. She enjoys working with children and strongly believes in learning from experience, especially for children as they manoeuvre through the world around them. She is inspired by the energy and positivity children have towards novel objects and situations.