Listening when children speak with blocks

Maypole from blocks

On the first of May, Alfie’s village celebrated with a traditional Maypole. The next day Alfie’s teacher asked him to draw the Maypole. He wasn’t keen, but complied by hastily drawing a pole with ribbons.

However, Alfie much prefers working with blocks. Soon with no adult suggestion Alfie and his friend Philip were at work in the construction area, where they spent nearly an hour reconstructing the Maypole experience. When his father came to take him home, Alfie explained everything in detail, from the fact that the ribbons started half-way up the pole, to the people on the benches. Alfie pointed out, "That’s our family on this bench. See, it’s only three people because you were gone that day".

Alfie’s teacher learned so much about his thinking that day. She learned that Alfie is more fluent in the language of block play than he is in the language of mark-making. She learned that he is capable of amazing perseverance, concentration and care when he is motivated from within in contrast to when he is told what to do. Finally, she learned that he understands a lot about numbers: For example realising that his family consists of four people and that one missing makes three. She also witnessed tremendous creativity, imagination, planning, co-operation, and joy in life! What more could you wish for any child?

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