General goals of the activity
- To make parents more aware of the intentions underlying the strategy of using the “mediator character” practiced by the nursery school.
- To share with parents some play experiences that children carry out in the pre-schools they attend, and re-think and enrich these through their contribution.
- To encourage exchange between nursery schools with the aim of strengthening mutual knowledge, developing trust and building a shared educational culture.
Description of the activity
Specifically in the nursery school context, educators adopt this tools to promote communication between children and adults, encourage the child’s regular and active participation in activities and routines, stimulate individual and group memory of the experience and develop a sense of belonging.
Last but not least, the practice fosters a form of mediated learning, without the direct intervention of an adult. The “mediator character” is one of these tools.
It can take the form of a puppet representing a book character or any other fantasy character, which could even be developed through observing a group of children.
The character - whose voice is provided by the educators - can be used to introduce and accompany the didactic activities offered to children in the nursery, creating a shared narrative throughout the different moments of the day.
It can be used as an announcer for the children taking part in different activities; an organizer, for example identifying the child whose task is to chose which song to sing; or as a facilitator in the division of children into subgroups for the different types of activities taking place on a given day.
The character becomes a daily companion, the protagonist of a shared and continually enriching enriching narrative construction, for the specific group of children experiencing each day with it.
In this sense, it can be understood as an “organizing” tool, as it helps to organize the moments and situations of play; A “mediating” tool in the relationship between educators and children; A “narrative” tool, which embodies the meanings that the group attaches to it, a set of shared references that contribute to building a common sense of belonging, consolidating group identity and promoting communication.
Use of the mediator is also suggested at home with the family, as described below.
After evaluating the possible impact on the family environment, families are invited to book the mediator to be taken home over the weekend. This can be done by subscribing a list of possible dates provided by the educators. Families are asked to keep it for the weekend, leaving the child free to use it if he/she wants, documenting any play experiences with photographs and short written text.
The character is brought back on Monday morning. The images and the collected texts are then placed on a special album shown to the children who are invited to re-enact the experience.
During the children’s morning group meeting, the teacher asks the child who took the character home to tell what they did together.
(issues to be aware of when implementing the activity)
The practice requires the use of a mediator character intended to be used as an organizing tool for the group.
The potential effects of the character in the family/home context should be evaluated, especially if it can be perceived as an ‘invader’ by the child or its siblings.
During the morning meeting with the group of children, attention should be paid to the possibility of families not agreeing to participate in the practice.
Role of the teacher
The teachers are responsible for:
- introducing the use of the character as an organizing tool;
- proposing to the families to take the character home if and when they wish (on the weekend);
- preparing a special board trough which the initiative is correctly managed so that everyone can enjoy;
- listening to the child’s story and facilitating its sharing with the peers after the weekend spent with the character.
Role of the family
Families have the task of ‘playing the game’, hosting the puppet and documenting the experience.
Added value for the child and the family
The two settings - home and nursery - getting closer through a single object, collecting stories and experiences in both contexts.
The experience enhances mutual knowledge, consolidates relationships and trust.
Materials to be used
A mediator character, such as a puppet, and an album in which to collect the photographs brought by the parents.
Guiding questions to reflect on the general improvement of the service
- Has the practice met the needs from which it originated?
- How did the activity improve parents’ participation?
- To what extent has the activity improved our professional development as individual educators and as a group?
- How has the activity affected the relationship of trust with parents?