It’s times like these that seizing opportunities enables children to reap rewards
Before finding my current role, I thought my last job, working for an outdoor education provider as an activities manager, was the best job I ever had – but now I’m incredibly proud to work in residential child care.
Someone recently asked me for some advice for starting in the role, and after some thought, I said “Seize opportunities”. Working in Residential gives you so many experiences and scope for learning. For progression. For pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. But most importantly, you should seize the opportunity for shared positive experiences with young people in our care.
I work at Bourne House, in Wiltshire, and there, our children are at the heart of everything we do. We adapt to their needs, using our experience to engage, enthuse and nurture growth and development, all through fun! In Matilda, Miss Trunchbull said “if you are having fun, you are not learning” – thankfully, we all know how wrong she was. Working in Residential can be incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding, and we have a lot of fun along the way.
One of my fondest memories of seizing an opportunity for fun happened a few weeks ago, on a journey home from school. Having picked up our young person, we discussed our plans for the rest of the afternoon – playing with friends, requests for a movie night, plans to play football – all normal after school activities. Then suddenly, as we were driving home through some changeable weather, I heard a scream of pure excitement from behind me…
“BOB! THERE’S A RAINBOW!”
“Oh wow! Look at that! What should we do?” I responded.
“LET’S FOLLOW IT AND FIND THE POT OF GOLD”
I could, of course, have explained that this is a myth, it’s impossible to find the end (and we had to complete our homework before dinner), but how often do we get to chase a rainbow?
Despite knowing that this was an impossible task, I also knew it would provide an opportunity to discuss how it feels when things don’t go our way – development through a fun shared experience.
I called my shift partner, explaining that we would be home a little later as we were on a mission to find the end of a rainbow. We set off, with the young person in the back of the car being my ‘rainbow-nav’, directing me down country lanes and through little villages getting closer and closer to the end of the rainbow. Shouts of “we’re almost there!”, “Bob, it’s getting closer”, “just around the next corner!” came from the back – this was the most excited I think I’d ever seen him.
After around twenty minutes of eagerly searching and getting continually closer (“It’s just over the next hill!”), the sun went behind some clouds and the rainbow was lost. Expecting disappointment or frustration, I gently asked how the young person felt now – he had sometimes struggled with not winning, and could, at times, struggle to manage his overwhelming emotions when things didn’t go how he hoped they would.
His response? He told me that it was ok, we could try again another time, that it had been so much fun trying to get to the end of the rainbow, and how proud people would be of us for trying our best.
The experience reminds me that our children are just that – children. Children who want to be loved, to have fun, and who want to have adults who care for them and take those chances with them to try and be there for them when we don’t achieve.
It’s times like these that when we seize the opportunities and take chances, we enable our children to reap the rewards.