Taking the time to slow down with children is of pretty high importance in my eyes…. time that allows for us to connect with each other on a deeper level. It is often something we can lose sight of in the rush of our day. Having a tea party allows for this time and can offer an insight into children’s thoughts and feelings. Discussions allow us to get to know children on a more intimate level. For me, this is far more important than setting up activity after activity, which can distract children from learning to regulate their emotions.
When I arrive I often walk in to musings from the children….. “Can we have a tea party?”, “Is it too wet for us to have a fire?”, “Did you bring marshmallows or food for the fire?”. This gives me an insight into how our day will unfold, and what I will be helping them prepare.
Children will often discuss amongst themselves the type of fruit or herbal tea they want. They are gaining familiarity with the different types, and most of the time the tea has been selected before I even arrive. As well as picking the tea they are able to choose from our selection of tea cups and pots. Most of our tea sets have been donated by families of the centre. The different tea sets are known by the different families who have brought them in. All beautiful and unique and very special to us. Once we have got everything together, we move to gather as a community around our yarning circle. As soon as the tea sets come out the children follow. I feel a bit like the pied piper walking with our tea filled tea pots, and the children in tow.
It is not necessarily part of our everyday play, however most days we have been having bigger and bigger tea parties. Winter has also been a great opportunity to use our fire knowledge and sometimes boil the water over the fire…. again bringing children and adults together, yarning about their morning and plans for the remainder of the day. Once we have gathered together and had our cup of tea and a bit of chit-chat, the children generally take off and resume play. I find this experience can also be a wonderful opportunity for children who may struggle to enter group situations.
Our tea parties have really helped to create an overall sense of calm throughout the centre and bring us together. I think they have also made a real difference to my own “at peace” feeling.