Each day at the Limes After School Program, we start with “Circle Time”… we ask the children to arrange their chairs in a big circle as they arrive and then everyone has a seat. We pass around a beach ball and when each child holds the ball they have the opportunity to stand up, tell everyone their name, and share something about themself. Usually, we pick a topic to get things going: What is your favourite food? What kind of sports do you like to play? How many brothers or sisters do you have? Circle Time gives the kids the chance to practice their public speaking skills but more importantly, to share something that is important to them and have the undivided attention of their peers and teachers.
The other day, instead of choosing the topic for Circle Time, we asked the kids for their ideas. We wanted to know what they would like to talk about. One little boy who comes to the program quite regularly, put his hand up in the air immediately to suggest a topic: “Miss, I’d like to talk about loving and caring!”. What a great idea! So we asked the children to tell us what they do to show someone that they care about them. It was very touching to hear each child talk about how they show someone that they care: “making pictures for them”, “doing work around the house”, “giving big hugs”… every kid had their own way of showing others that they care and they were all so very eager to share those ideas.
I usually go the Limes prepared with crafts or lesson plans. I view my role as that of a teacher. I am there to engage the kids in learning and thinking about the world around them. Quite often; however, I leave, having learned something from the kids. On that day, I was reminded of the power of listening. Just by taking the time to ask and to listen, we learned so much more about the Limes children and what is important to them. When it came to my turn to talk about what I do to show someone that I care about them, my answer came from the kids: “I can show someone that I care by listening to them”.