Coldstream has prepared an environment for Young Friends in the room at the end of the hall. The environment is designed to allow children to follow their natural inclinations and interests gently guided by an adult volunteer, a Young Friends companion (YFC). The experience incorporates Quaker testimonies or values, such as peace and simplicity, as well as providing activities specifically designed to help children explore Quakerism.
The room is set up with a number of individual activities set out on trays or in baskets on the shelves. Many of these activities will be familiar to children – drawing with felt markers, playing with cars, matching animals, a book corner, Duplo, making a straw necklace, etc. Some will introduce aspects of Quakerism and will not be familiar.
|Before 10:30||Parents with a new child arrive and the Young Friends companion (YFC) shows them the room and gives a brief explanation of the program|
|10:30||Parents and children join the Meeting, sitting listening in silence.|
|10:45||The Young Friends companion (YFC) invites familiar children and the new child (and the parent if the child is uncertain) to follow them to the Young Friends room. The YFC introduces the new child to the environment.|
|11:40||YFC helps children tidy the room|
|11:50||YFC returns children to the Meeting|
Guidelines for the Young Friends Room
- This is a room for quiet activity. Children are allowed and encouraged to be as independent and responsible as possible.
- The Young Friends companion, YFC, (the adult in the environment) introduces any new activity in the room to a child individually, or to a small natural group of children, when they express an interest in it.
- Children are free to choose whichever activity they wish and continue it for as long as they wish.
- A child can ask a child who has an activity if they can join them but the child who has taken the activity out has the right to politely decline.
- Activities can be done on a table or children can use a mat to contain their activity space on the floor. (The mats are stored rolled in a small bin.)
- Children are encouraged and helped to return an activity to its place on the shelf before they begin a new activity, and to keep the environment tidy by tucking in their chairs and wiping up spills, etc.
- The YFC observes the children’s interactions with the activities and with one another and provides gentle guidance, support and conversation as needed.