Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Tools and children

Some people start to get worried when children and sharp things come into close contact but I'm all for helping children learn how to use things safely. Some cultures just let kids loose with machetes and knives from an early age but I do like a bit more control than that.

I've had overwhelmingly positive experiences of showing people how to use tools and then supervising them closely while they do it themselves. A colleague at Armitage primary likes to say how children whose behaviour is often pretty poor in the classroom suddenly become little angels when they have control of a dangerous tool, probably out of fear of having it taken away from them. One of the best users of a pruning saw I've seen is a 11 year old girl from Slovakia who maintained her grandmother's apple tree back home.

For me the golden rules are: make sure they understand where the dangerous bit is, show them how to use it safely, ensure they can actually use the tool properly and then stay with them to spot any danger signs. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Getting parents involved

At Ravensbury we have a session for parents once a week just after they have dropped their children off at school. In a diverse area like this it has been really interesting hearing people's experiences of gardening and growing food in other countries. I've learnt a lot as well as helping people develop new skills and just having a nice time for an hour.

Harvesting winter crops has generated some interesting moments as well. At St Chrysostoms we picked a lot of chard leaves and gave these away to parents. At one point I was with 4 women:from Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and China, all clamouring for the chard and sharing stories about how they cooked it and grew it back home.