The final week of Lent term is always special as it inspires so much innocent awe and wonder in the children as they think about the world wakening after its long winter sleep and, of course, the Easter story. I look forward to sharing the delights of the return of colour to the world in the form of spring flowers, blossom and new buds and watching the children’s faces as they observe these natural changes in their environment. I look forward too, to sharing the Easter story and its message of great sadness turning into great joy. I always share a beautiful story by Susan Varley with them called, ‘Badger’s Parting Gift’ which tells the tale of an old, wise badger who is loved very much by all his friends but can no longer join in and do all the things he was able to do in his younger years. We learn how it is time for Badger to make his way down the ‘long tunnel’ where a life free from pain awaits him along with the freedom from old, aching limbs allowing him to run free once more. Despite having read this story many, many times it still has the power to move me and it is that very emotion which also captures the children’s hearts as a great hush falls over the room when I reach the part where we learn Badger has died. However, there is also the upsurge of happiness that swells at the end when we share in the reminiscing of Badger’s friends remembering all the things Badger had taught them and how these memories bring smiles and even laughter to their faces. I then ask the children to recall a time when their sadness turned to joy such as losing a toy and then finding it again or falling over and then the hurt getting better. Although not quite such profound experiences, it does help them begin to learn that sadness is necessary but doesn’t last forever. In the same way the winter brings the cold and dark and strips the world of colour but spring returns and brings with it warmth, lighter days, new life, bird song and colour.
It is at these times of the year one really treasures being a teacher of young children, as we are continually reminded to take the time to enjoy these seasonal changes and revel in their wide-eyed wonder as they learn more and more about the world around them and their place within it.