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Second part: Specific areas of action to handle early childhood conflicts
Role and sense of play in child development The power of literature in the child's emotional development Teaching methodology for the construction of autonomy, creativity and self esteem
Role and sense of play in child development

The adults usually have a quite banal idea on the significance of play in the early ages. It is usually assumed as an activity that the child simply carries out because he is small and he should pass the time, or to pass the time while the adults carry out their activities. Regrettably, today the audiovisual means have taken over that function in many homes and, more and more, the children have less time available to play. Television provides fantasies built for others, depriving them of the opportunity to satisfy their own needs to explore and to create their own universe of dreams and imagination, because the offer available for them doesn't have anything to do with the child's affective economy; on the contrary, they are proposals completely unrelated to what the child feels. The addiction, every day more severe, of the children to this type of entertainment and of use of their free time, halts the development of their capacity to create through play. They turn into "searchers" of images, feeding on external objects that they have not created, because they have not had the opportunity to establish an initial bond between the activity and their affective world, which is an indispensable condition to play in a creative way.

From the theory of play, there are those who think that to play is an important activity because the child learns that way the roles that he can carry out in the future, which is true, but it is also true that play possesses other complementary meanings of great significance. Some psychologists highlight the importance for the child the feeling that he obtains when he plays, seeing his body and mind "working well", both when he plays alone and when he plays with other people, feeling that is in the base of all the sensations of well-being. Piaget highlights the importance of play in the socialization process that begins with an activity of free play, where fantasy and spontaneity occupy the first place in the child's activity, and he progresses until arriving at structured games that allow him to gradually learn respect for the rules, to control his egocentric and aggressive tendencies, and with it, to take one of the most important steps in the learning of social behaviors. In the conceptualization that he carries out to explain the development of intelligence, we can notice that the structures of knowledge of which he talks about, and that we usually see as very abstract concepts, become embodied, in short, through the play activity.

Apart from these considerations, we should highlight that play is not something that the child also "does", besides many other things, but rather, as in ecology we talk about a habitat in which species can develop, one could say that the habitat of the "child species" is play, it is the dimension where he lives and develops. As we have seen, the child grows in a system of values, concepts, possibilities of development that he tries permanently to analyze and figure out, and the way that he has of doing it is, in fact, through play. Winnicott, that has worked theoretically on the topic of play, explains it as an opening of the child to the world, where there is a constant exchange between the structures that are developing and the possibilities that reality gives him. In that exchange it is play that allows those structures to be organized, otherwise, the development would be virtual, nonexistent. This author makes a semantic differentiation that refers specifically to the function of play: he speaks of "to play", in infinitive, to emphasize the quality of activity that it has, in opposition to the "play" that appears as something closed and finished. This differentiation is important because "to play" implies an open structure that supposes an initiative on behalf of the child, in opposition to the "play" that appears as something closed and many times imposed on the child. Playing is, then, an open, risky field, of exploration, of certain risk, where the child finds the sense of new things, of adventure and change.

Without intending to review any particular theory, since they are all valid, it is important to consider the play activity from the pedagogical practice, because ultimately, what the theory divides, the practice unites, since it possesses more secrets and keys that any theoretical focus. What interests us as educators is to be able to clarify the sense that play has in child development to assign it the fair value it has as representation of the group of impulses and wishes of the child.

The first thing that we can say is that the play activity is structuring, in the widest sense in the word. We know the famous game of the spool mentioned by Freud, in which he begins the assessment of play in children as a representation of symbolic play. He tells that the behavior that he observed in his grandson, who was playing with a spool, holding and grabbing it alternately, while he pronounced the words Fort-da that for him represented estrangement and proximity at a time when his mother was temporarily absent. The boy, in this case, was conceptualizing the idea of estrangement and proximity, that is to say, he was "thinking" through the game. It is not that first he had the concept and then he played with it, or what is the same thing, represented it playfully, but rather it was in the own activity of the game where he elaborated it.

Bruno Bettelheim in his book "There are no perfect parents" (* Transcription from the book “There are no perfect parents” by B. Bettelheim, Grijalbo Mondadori Editors, 1988.) tells a fact that happened to Goethe in his childhood that clearly illustrates what we have just said. This writer included the event in his memoirs "Of my life, poetry and truth", because he granted it an important significance in his life.

The author says: "It was a beautiful afternoon, when everything was in silence in the house, I was playing with my recently acquired plates and pots, and, as I wasn't getting anything out of it, I threw a plate through the window to the street and I was happy seeing it break in such an amusing way..." Freud, in his writing "A childhood memory of Poetry and truth", suggests that Goethe was symbolically representing the anger that his brother inspired in him, and his desire that his hated usurper was thrown out of the house. But I believe that of this first memory we can learn much more about play in general.

"To begin with, Goethe stresses that at first he was not getting anything out of playing with his pots, which makes us understand that his first acts did not satisfy the internal pressures that he needed to confront at that time. His game did not begin to make sense until he threw the first plate to the street. We are before a typical example of the way in which the children begin to play without knowing very well what pushes them to do something with a certain thing. It also demonstrates us how the most common daily objects can help the child to represent, and with luck, to solve, some of his deeper and more demanding problems, as long as he is given free choice on how to use the objects, without paying attention to his purpose in using them. And it allows us to see that, when they are allowed, children can transform what begins as a random game into something that can be very significant. The child does not know beforehand what he is going to represent, nor why, he does not act according to any conscious plan. If it was so, his game would serve conscious and not unconscious needs, and as the child does not know these unconscious needs, generally, his parents also do not know them. Because of this, parents cannot plan for the child a game that responds to his more urgent necessities."

Until the moment that the first plate smashed against the pavement and broke into pieces, the young Goethe could not understand, with the speed of a lightning that "it was to that he wanted to play!" and to clap with enthusiasm when he suddenly realized that he was doing what satisfied his needs, what liberated and alleviated the pressure of the feelings that threatened to suffocate his emotional life, and it liberated him of his depression and anger. If somebody had tried to explain all this to the young boy, he would not have been able to understand anything of it, although later, when he was older, he became one of the most brilliant men of all times. In another context and at another time maybe, he would have understood that he was angry with his brother, the one who, Goethe feared, had substituted him and that what he wanted was to get rid of the intruder (many children tell their parents that the best thing they can do is to return to the newly born one to the place he came from). Although Goethe represented these unconscious desires by means of the game, he would have been amazed if the unconscious sources of his game had reached somehow his conscious attention. Worse still, this would have destroyed at once all that he was trying to achieve with the activity. He probably would have been in tears, denying anything that was told to him. The final result would have probably been to deeply repress his unconscious feelings, so that they remained completely beyond the reach of the symbolic expression and this could have damaged his future emotional development.

Following the analysis that Freud made of this story, we can suppose that the first reason for Goethe's game was the symbolic expulsionof his brother by throwing things to the street. But as the most important psychological phenomena they are over determined, we can also speculate that the action of throwing his plates (that as eating utensils of his property also symbolized him) he represented his sensation that the newly born brother had tossed him out of house, that his security was broken, in the same way that he now broke his plates."

As we can notice in this example, the game is initial, it is the foundation of all development from the point of view of the experience in itself. The whole field of significances that the child organizes by playing, is not done not through a conceptual definition, as the concept is really the result of this play dynamics. We, as adults, are accustomed to organize sense through words, and we find it difficult to conceive another way of thinking. But play makes its own sense, has its own rules, that is developed at that level that is not only pre-conceptual, previous to the meaning, but that it is a way to conceptualize, a form of organizing the world in a total way. In play everything is transformed: the object and the player, the boy that plays, either because he fantasizes about being powerful, magic, invincible or omnipotent, or because he plays games that imply assuming the identity of others: a doctor, a truck driver, a nurse, a teacher, etc. The identity is given through the game, when "he acts as another" and he takes the features of that other one to assemble some kind of collage because, as we have already explained, identity is not given as a copy to the likeness of somebody else, but starting from the incorporation of elements of the personality of his significant figures in the affective plane.

From the beginning of his life, the infant organizes himself through his own play activity. We all know the pleasure he experiences when he gets dirty eating, as if he was putting on a new skin from the world, mixing and making himself different with what comes from the outside: it is the way he has of discovering and recognizing himself as "another", or when he covers his face in front of someone else who is looking at him, at the same time that "he sees himself" being seen. Or when he plays to talk on the telephone, as a way of relating with the other one without him being present. It is a form of organizing his symbolic world, since even if the other person is not near, he makes him present in his memory, in his symbol. Also very simple games such as the peek-a boo game played by the mother with her small boy, hiding for a few moments and then reappearing, make him acquire the security that, in spite of the interruption of the visual contact, the affective contact is not interrupted. This with time will help him to learn that the mother's momentary separation, for example, in his first school experience, does not mean a permanent loss, that she will return and that the happiness of the encounter will be mutual and comforting.

When he is a little older, the hiding games also have important benefits, when living the certainty that he will be found so that the game can be carried out and continue. Or, in a different version of the game, in which he hides to be able to reach the "base” so that he can be safe, without getting caught. He can even switch roles: for a time he is the one being pursued and then, he can become the pursuer. He lives the experience of being tested and confronts the dangers that the reality holds for him, knowing that at the end, one way or another, with some effort he will be safe from the dangers.

The children subject their fantasies to the demands and limits imposed by reality when they play, and this way they incorporate the necessary limits for their social behaviors. It is not the same thing that a child imagines that he pulls off the head of a partner with whom he has gotten very angry, to play out his fantasy with his teddy bear and behead him: the consequences vary completely. In the first case it does not go beyond being an imagination, and in the other one, the reality makes him learn the consequences of his action, because his bear has been broken. We see the importance of giving the child the opportunity to subject the fantasy to the limitations of reality through play, because in that way, as we saw in the case of the teddy bear, the child will realize what his wish is about, which would be impossible to visualize if the wish remained a mere fantasy.

As Bruno Bettelheim underlines, children suffer many problems of development of unconscious nature that they cannot solve in reality, and it is play what allows them to solve them. To play is a pleasant activity in itself and the child plays because he likes to, ignoring that his inclination to play comes from the need to solve problems that very often mortify him, or that the pleasure that he obtains from playing comes from the enjoyment of feeling that he can control things, as opposed to the sensation of frustration that he gets from his relationship with reality, where he is always subjected to the wishes of the adults. The plays of magic and private content; rituals that the child carries out, such as mentally repeating a word in certain occasions; walking in a certain way on the sidewalks or any other spontaneous invention carried out beyond the understanding and rules of the adults, give him a sensation of self-determination, of being the owner of his own acts and of being able "to disengage" out of the adult's control: he imposes the activity on himself and he executes it according to his own rules. The small child is not able to be autonomous or self determining, but he can acquire those capacities by playing, and this will provide him in the future with the possibility of determining, to a certain grade, his own life.

As for the aggressiveness and the need to discharge it, as it happened to Goethe, also has to do with the intra subjective conflicts that the child suffers. For this reason, it is very important to offer him an opportunity to do so symbolically. On this topic there are usually many doubts about the convenience of letting children use guns or other toy arms, because one thinks that they reinforce their aggressiveness or stimulate it. The meaning of this type of game should be very clear to us, as it depends on the attitude of the adults. It is not true that the children will become gunmen because they play with guns, on the contrary, their symbolic use allows for the elaboration of aggressiveness produced by facts that they cannot even know or recognize. To be able to discharge their aggressiveness against other children or against the adult, playing to "make believe" killing, can only do them good since, otherwise, they would have to repress their aggressive impulses with the possibility of the children deploying them in reality. Now, this idea should not lead us to think about the convenience of stimulating the child so that he uses guns and carries out warlike games. It is enough with the fact that they have them available when they want to use them. They should understand that the adult agrees to let them use them when they want to and that he expects that they will play with them within the framework of some adequate norms of behavior.

The participation of the adult in child's play

As we have seen so far, the children play for the pleasure that playing gives them at the same time that they satisfy their internal needs in reality. For that reason it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell which it is the specific meaning of the games that the children play, be it individual or group games. The only thing that we can be sure it is that their play activities are determined by what is happening in their minds. Play is the “secrete” language that the children have to express their internal world, and to solve problems of the present and of the past that bother them in their daily life. The children do not play to pass the time, says Bettelheim, and still when they do so some times, the choice of the game would be motivated by their internal processes, anxieties, tensions and conflicts, derived many times from ambivalent feelings.

On the attitude of the educator depends that the child's play can flow and become a constructive element for the child's development. Many times the educators try to influence the child's play in the moment in that this he is absorbed by it, because we think that we can help him to take conscience of what he is doing or because we consider that a suggestion can bring about achievements that the boy by himself is not able to carry out, etc. However, the best intervention consists, initially, in maintaining an attitude listening and observation of the child's activity, because our active participation in a given moment can block the development of the game. Let us not forget that our indications will always be motivated by our interpretation of the meaning of the child's game in a conscious level, and that the unconscious elements that are operating in the boy, are unknown both to him and to us.

We can sometimes be tempted to offer him some explanation or interpretation of what the game means, seeking to help him to solve what disquiets him, but the most probable thing is that the result is not what we expected, because the explanation destroys the symbolic nature of the game, and the child loses the capacity to be in charge of the problem that is bothering him. To leave the boy "do" in freedom is, therefore, to give him the opportunity to find solutions to the problems that press him, while our intervention, however well intended, can shift the direction of the process that the boy is in for the solution of his conflicts.

There are different cases with certain children that, for some special situation, withdraw from the group, isolating themselves, not moving away from the teacher during free play or are stagnated in a repetitive game without being able to advance toward other instances, or the children that play to games that are too childish for their chronological age. There are no general and applicable rules for all the cases because, to begin with, each child responds to his own biography and each case is absolutely singular. But we can explore the situation taking as reference some concepts that can guide us in the search and give us some hints to be able to intervene in the correct direction.

Regarding the the children that always play in solitary, it usually happens that they are linked to their own body, without opening up towards the exterior, and their game is carried out in an environment (the personal) where they possess more control of what is happening. In many cases this attitude is derived from their relationship with their father and mother. When there is a very intense bond with the mother, and it has been difficult to separate from her, that situation of affective symbiosis is reverted in the difficulty to play with other children, of accepting a third party that represents what comes from the exterior, from beyond the child. This blocks their opening up towards the exterior and they end up locked in their own solitary game.

When the relationship with its parents has enabled the child to take that necessary distance between him and his mother, which has to do with the subjective place that the mother gives to the child, with the relationship that the mother has with the father, and of the father with the boy -, and we can recognize other figures in the family, (siblings, father, cousins, grandparents, etc.), he can play without difficulty and in a natural way with other children. While this is not sufficiently recognized or accepted, to play alone represents for the child the chance to continue linked internally to his mother, with a total control of the situation.

In these cases, the educator can intervene approaching in a very gradual way. First just with a look and a word, commenting without judging what the child is doing, using some material that serves as an intermediary, such as a ball or some cushions, in such a way that he can begin a communication that allows him an opening towards the exterior, until he can go from the teacher to the more open contact with his peers. This can take a lot of time, and requires a good dose of patience and perseverance from the educator. As we have said before, when we talked about the nature of development, this it is not given in a lineal way, but with twists and turns that represent the difficulties of leaving what is known, the sure things, for something that is still not known.

The child can one day dare to leave his closed circle, his pensiveness that represents his maternal relationship and to return again to his previous behaviors as a form of reaffirmation in what is sure for him, to be able to return to the search of the new things.

We have spoken before of the process of adaptation of the children that enter the school for the first time, and of the difficulties they will face during the first times, depending on the characteristics of each one. The teachers usually comment on their concern for certain children that are "glued" to them the whole time and that only give themselves the opportunity to play with the teacher. In many cases this is because the type of socialized activities implies a deep transformation for the young child.

The "norm" that Piaget talked about, implies the recognition and acceptance that he is subject to the same obligations and duties than the other children. This implies a great challenge and a difficult transformation, because he has to go from a situation where he is the only one, with the rules that he has set down for his game and that are consented by the family, to a situation where the norms are more general. This implies for the child a change in the form of feeling about himself: now he has to see himself as another, as a general another, before whom he can experience ambivalent feelings.

On one hand, to see himself as another implies an enjoyment, that of exploring what it is to be another, or to be like the other ones; in other words, to experience the sensation of the us. This also supposes a painful sensation, because he loses what is known without finding something new, and he feels unable to incorporate with easiness to what does not feel as his own, to an atmosphere that leaves him out. In these cases, the educator can intervene serving as a bridge between his intimate situation and reality, establishing a more personalized relationship with the child or with some children that don't feel so affected with whom he can begin to experience the joy of playing.

The situation of the boy who isolates himself in his fantasies is as he doesn't keep reality in mind. In this case he does not represent his fantasies, that is to say, he doesn't play. He remains folded over on himself in his imagination and in the pure fantasy in which there is no room for change, or learning, because he doesn't represent his fantasies in his games. This responds to more deep causes and the important thing is to be able to differentiate a child with these isolation characteristics, of the child that meets with normal anxiety a change and needs the teacher's company to take the first steps towards a new situation like the one we have described. In the first case, the best thing to do is to derive the child to a specialist in child development for an evaluation and a precise diagnosis.

The conflicting situations that come up in the preschool classroom, are many and varied because, in fact, in these ages the bases of the human being's future personality are built. To be attentive to the hardships of the life of the children by means of observation, knowledge and a great dose of intuition will allow us to learn from the experience and to act in the best possible way to help them to grow.

We can be sure that if we let that the child's play flow and we do not impose on him a structure from the exterior, we are helping to handle his conflicts and we are promoting child development, because through free play the child works on the most current of his experiences, together with the most distant, complex and difficult elaborations on his past.

From free play to structured play

The boy's learning should have a solid base in his previous experiences with play. We know the importance that Piaget and H. Wallon place on the child's first relationships with the physical and human environment in the conformation of his structures of knowledge and of the psyche in general. Genetic psychology teaches us that the knowledge of the external world begins with movement and from that movement, in interrelation with a significant other, the potential of sensorial wealth and action is born, it allows us to know our body and to recognize it later on as an I, separated from the others.

Inside that relationship, the body is the place, the base of the emotional exchanges, of where the possibility arises of elaborating the image of the own body separated from the body of the others. Therefore, the development of socialization depends, in great measure, of the affective quality of those exchanges. The inadequacy of stimulation, the absence or poverty of corporal games in the first stages of the child's life, can create important interferences in the imaginary world, causing delays in his intellectual, affective and social development. A boy with poor corporal experiences will have impoverished thinking, because the thought gets rich from the creation and multiplication of images and symbols, on a base of pleasure that becomes, in turn, the source of new experiences.

When we refer to structured games we usually think of the play activity that the older children carry out, since to be able to carry them out, they need to have the capacity of understanding the sense of the rules and norms and the determination, on the part of the children, of accepting them, otherwise, the game can not go on.

However, we can speak, in a certain sense, of structured play in the first years if we analyze the type of actions that the child carries out with his mother or care giver in these early stages. In the same way that the baby's first cry passes from being the expression from a biological need to a "demand", that is to say, to a manifestation of psychological nature, the games that the mother carries out with her son, just for enjoyment, become structured games that become the beginnings of a process of communication and formation of individuality.

For example, the game of peek a boo, carried out with reiteration, makes the child begin to take conscience that the mother is doing out something directed at him and respond with expressions of amusement that at the same time motivate the mother to continue playing. This promotes a process of communication starting from which the baby discovers the other person at the same time he discovers himself, and at the time that he begins to develop a rudimentary awareness of the effects his performance produces in the others. This implies the beginning of an interrelation that is given with a sense, with a significance. There are other games, very varied in their forms of interaction that the parents can carry out with their children and that can be considered as structured games because they maintain a proposal of formal structure and can be repeated without major variations.

As for the structured games that the older children play, they take place when the children can understand and assume the rules and norms that govern their behavior in the dynamics of the activity. Piaget states that the control that the young child acquired by playing of the manipulation of objects, extends little by little into self-control through the participation in structured games. This demands a transition process that goes from free play, to which we have already referred, characterized by fantasy, improvisation and spontaneity, to the game with rules and norms originated in the exterior that implies the development of the capacity to adapt to the rules and to obey them although it means having to accept defeat.

This author also points out that the learning acquired by the child with the participation in regulated games is of fundamental importance for the evolution of his future social behaviors. This why it is important to allow the children to take the necessary time to discuss the rules to organize the game and the way they will follow them, although this activity may take more time than that of the game itself. Many times the adults, if they don't take this into account, become very distressed and try to intervene to determine "once and for all" the norms and rules of the game, because we find it distressing that they are not able to come to an agreement within a reasonable time, according to our criteria. As so many other things, the turns that the child takes are an indispensable part of his acquisitions, if we take into account that they can only learn in the measure that they participate in the construction of knowledge.

The teaching that the children receive from their own intents of constructing rules and norms for their play activities, expands in the personality of the child and of the youth in the future, when he has to act according to moral and ethical norms that harmonize with society and allow him a harmonic coexistence with his fellow men. The children do not acquire socially acceptable attitudes because we tell them so, even if we are determined to do so in a constant and repetitive way, instead, this bothers them and they end up not considering it acceptable.

Once, in a primary school a program for coexistence was set up, led by staff from the Ministry of Education. The facilitator of the program went to the classrooms and gave the children a chat after showing a videotape that showed scenes of cooperation and collective participation in daily life situations. The children listened to the chat that highlighted the values of solidarity, cooperation and social responsibility while they wrote something in their notebooks on the topic. In that moment a girl asked to borrow a pen from her classmate who happened to have two on her work table, and the partner answered to her:

- Why don't you bring your own?

This real fact demonstrates with rotundity that the children don't learn from speeches that plead for the ethical and moral virtues, but from their own experience through the examples that they take from the spontaneous behavior of the significant figures in the course of development, or from their own experiences.

The children can incorporate a solid civic formation, in as much that they have had the opportunity to personally live situations of interaction through play, where the use of the norms and rules of coexistence have demonstrated their usefulness and their advantages in comparison to other disordered, selfish and aggressive behaviors.

Cooperation games

We have already seen how playing is the natural means through which the children metabolize the difficulties and conflicts between their internal world and reality. But they are also good to learn cooperative and solidary forms of behavior, since playing tests the processes of action, reaction and feelings of the people that intervene.

What characterizes this type of games is not their internal non competitive structure. They are play proposals that encourage the participation of all the members of the group without the goal of having the game finish by separating the losers from the winners.

Play in the psychomotor development class

The psycho motor development room is a singular and privileged space, as much for the children and for the teacher. It is built as it gets used and it acquires significances from the experiences shared in it. The activities done there have their own modality that cannot be compared to any type of corporal activity that is carried out outside of that space. This singularity is given by the educational intention that is summed up in the type of work that encompasses, from the body and motion, all the dimensions of the personality: intellectual, motor and affective within the frame of the reciprocal interrelations between the physical and human world. This set of meanings gives sense to the space and objects, and it is what constitutes its particularity. Therefore, it is not the material, measurable aspect, what gives its character to the psycho motor development room, but the emotional meaning that each person subjectively assigns to it.

What differentiates the type of activity carried out in the psycho motor development room from the rest of activities is that the children arrive to that space with the awareness of being able to express themselves as they cannot do so in another place and in the company of an adult that doesn't have the same role as in the regular classroom. The adult, from his attitude, creates an atmosphere of security and of structuring authority, in the sense of providing the necessary conditions to help the children to build their own identity.

The child brings to this room all his life, his anguishes, fears, impulses, frustrations, happiness, fears, uncertainties, his desire to explore, in short, his whole life. That life is not expressed in the class as he is subject to the obligation of fulfilling certain learning tasks, or where he plays freely, but from a subjective position determined by his role as a student, with all that that it bears on him. In the psycho motor development room, on the other hand, there is no other task than that of doing, for a specific period of time, what he really wants to do, and mainly, a doing that is, at the same time, a search and an encounter with the most genuine desire.

The child has freedom to not do anything, (which is a form of doing and saying), to participate, to be isolated and to look for solitude, to share with others, to abandon the game, to play alone, to discharge his aggressiveness without damaging the other ones or himself, etc., during an incomparable time of affective, motor and intellectual expansion. But for this to be possible we need to establish a dynamics of work that is expressed in an order of time and space and that is summed up in a stable organization.

Distribution of space and the time in the classroom

It is advisable that the minimum time of practice of psychomotor education be of 50 minutes, twice a week.

The time and the space can be divided in two parts during the session:

Space and time for sensory motor expression.

The action and the space are dedicated fundamentally to free play activities, be them fundamentally motor or symbolic. The Room should be divided in two areas, leaving more physical space for this first moment when the children play using the free play materials available in the room.

Space and time centered in representation.

When the rhythm of activity of the first part slows down, we invite the children to another space prepared for them to symbolically represent what they have lived, through writing, drawing, constructions, in short, using all the modalities that they want. We can also propose reading a story and its representation, either through dramatization, writing and/or drawing.

The rituals and norms of the Room

These are two moments of great significance in the development of the session because they help to give the specific and singular character to the work. The educator should enter the room first and let the children in indicating, the first times, the place where they should gather in a circle before beginning the activity. The ideal thing is that before coming in they take off their shoes and they leave them in a special place. The first activity of the session is a meeting in which we explain the norms agreed upon among all. For example:

•  We can use all the materials in the room and play as we prefer, with the condition of not breaking them.

•  At the end of the session we should put all the materials in their place.

•  We should not attack, neither physically nor verbally, our classmates.

•  If somebody wants to discharge his aggressiveness, he can do so by using the materials available for such an end: cushions, cloth puppets, mattresses, papers, etc.

•  If for any reason there is a fight, the children implicated should meet with the educator, in the place where we hold the welcome and farewell meetings, to try to solve the conflict, with the teacher's help. That is the condition so that they can go back to play.

•  Before moving to the quiet time activity and before finishing the session, they should obey the indications of the educator who will warn them two or three minutes before the change of activity so that they can end their activities.

•  To renew every day the commitment of fulfilling the norms.

•  To conclude the session, after returning the materials to their place, the children should sit down again in the circle and comment on what they have liked, if they have had some problem with a classmate and how it was solved, suggestions for the next session, modification or inclusion of some norm, etc.

It is important to highlight that this is only an example of organization that should not be take to the letter. They are not many early childhood centers that have a room specifically dedicated to the psycho motor development nor the means or the materials, therefore we need, above everything, the will to offer a practice to benefit the emotional development of the children. If there is this will, the space of the classroom or the gym can be adapted, because as we have said, it is not the physical space what determines the particularity of the work, but the affective significance of what the children and teacher do in that space.

Classroom objects and their use

In the psycho motor development room the objects constitute a very important part for the development of the sessions. According to Miguel Llorca Linares (M. Llorca Linares is a professor of de the Department of Didactics and Educational Research and Behavior of the University of La Laguna ), the materials that are available to the children can be classified in three different types:

1) Materials for sensory motor play that stimulate the development of abilities and corporal dexterities, such as a Swedish bench, mattresses, rubber foam structures, etc. that can be used in symbolic games at the same time that they facilitate the development of motor coordination, balance, posture control and sensory motor pleasure.

2) Structured materials, such as toys that are reminiscent of reality, (dolls, trucks, cars, elements of the kitchen (plates, glasses, pots and pans, coffeepot, kitchen and dining room furniture, doll house, etc.) with which the children can play symbolically: "to make believe" or "to be... " and less structured materials, such as hoops, cloths of different textures, cushions of varied sizes, strings, sticks, etc., leaving to the creativity of the children their form of symbolic use in the individual or collective creation of free games.

3) Representation materials, such as wood, construction blocks, legos, painting, rolls of paper, watercolors, papers of different textures and colors, newspaper, cardboards, etc.

We include in this list materials as flour, sand and creams that facilitate a deep sensorial pleasure when the children manipulate them and play with them experiencing their touch on the whole body.

Possibilities of use of the materials in the psycho motor development room:

•  Ladders stimulate climbing and the pleasure of conquering heights. The child experiences a great pleasure when he has been able to affirm his "power" by reaching a bigger height than the other children and, mainly than the teacher. The test of it is it that in general they usually call each other so that we can see them from below.

•  The Swedish bench allows sliding when it is placed at an angle, it tests the motor dexterities, the balance, and it also promotes situations of controlled risk to conquer fears.

•  The mattresses are an indispensable element in the room that provide multiple uses, from a way of delimiting the symbolic space, to the motor pleasure of jumping on cushions. The mattresses stimulate all type of cheerful and amusing games, such as tumbling, falling to front and back, rotating above them, heaping them and jumping from a controlled height, covering oneself with them and hiding from the adult, covering the adult, in short, it is a material that invites to play symbolically and to carry out all type of free games either using individually the body and movement or in a group.

•  Rubber foam structures that invite to the realization of vertical constructions that can then be demolished, to delimit closed spaces that provide security, representing private territories, such as the house or the room, or open spaces where one can share.

•  Balls are materials that possess their own dynamism, due to their spherical structure, they can rotate, jump, bounce, escape, etc. Since they are very manageable, they help to establish contacts at a distance when the children have difficulties with physical contact. It is important to have balls of several sizes and textures that allow for different usage. It is not the same a rubber foam ball than one of cloth, leather or rubber. The same thing happens with sizes. It is advisable to have an inflatable giant rubber ball that allows to experience swinging and several jumping balls with handles so that the children can jump and move on them.

•  Cloth materials also have many uses in symbolic play. Because they are such a malleable material, they can be used to make disguises, to make tents or houses, to wrap up oneself in them, to cover and hide as a way of disappearing from the adult's look, to turn into ghosts or monsters to inflict fear on the partners or the teacher, to live regressive situations, or to carry out very dynamic games as being allowed to crawl on the floor, either for the children or the adult, alone or in group. Swinging and cradling in cloths are very pleasant activities that the children enjoy a lot and that stimulate attitudes of collaboration and the exercise of solidary and cooperative behaviors.

•  Cardboard and cartons can be used to make constructions, especially houses where the children can go in and play carrying out some domestic tasks. The small ones don't let anybody share his space, while the bigger ones led them do it, they even offer a space for the adult.

Cartons can also be used to build cradles, a car or any space that it allows the children to go in and out in a permanent way. It is also interesting to use them to create a closed space to have the children communicate with each other ones by the sound of their voice or by knocking the walls of the box, playing with the idea of being noticed by the other ones in spite of not being seen.

With the open end turned down they can be used as shells to move from a space to another without being seen.

•  Ropes can have varied uses, some functional and other symbolic ones. For example, they can be tied up at certain distance of the floor to facilitate climbing, hanging or vertical swinging; they serve for distance communication as contact mediators. They usually wake up aggressive feelings of dominance and children use them to tie or to surround other children, to immobilize them or to tame some animal in a symbolic game.

•  Hoops are fundamentally closed, structured spaces where one can go in and out with total easiness, experiencing the "inside" and the "outside" as lived notions. They can be used also for "to hunt" the other ones, in an affective, seductive or aggressive manner, depending on each child's situation.

•  Newsprint stimulates an intense corporal experience when they are used to roll in them, to destroy them and to simulate "bonfires" to discharge aggressive tensions.

•  Water, paint, soil, flour, creams, etc., allow the discovery of the body, its recognition through pleasant sensations when the children can play freely with them.

•  Toys favor the elaboration of fundamentally symbolic games where the children frequently assume family roles or of literary or television characters.

Materials for representation whose function is to allow the child to take some distance from the experience and power to represent it through different symbolization systems such as painting, modeling, writing or building constructions. The materials that should be available to the children can be: paints of all type, pencils, non toxic markers, construction blocks, legos, paper and pencils to write, clay or plasticine, etc.

•  Words are the most important system of symbolization. When the children end their activities, they can meet, to comment and to verbalize their experiences. To tell what they have done, how they felt, what they have enjoyed of the activity and what difficulties they have had to solve. In general, it is conflicts of interpersonal relationship. It is the moment to review them together with the teacher to see how they were solved and to remember the norms to approach the conflicts. This allows them to become aware of their own performance and of the logical consequences of their behavior.

The educator's role in psychomotor practice

The first thing that we should highlight is not only the importance of the educator's own personal training, in the theoretical aspect that is indispensable, but also in the sense of the awareness of his attitudes, difficulties and needs that, mainly, influence their relationship with the children. Courses of experiential learning and personal enrichment, are indispensable to be able to carry out a psychomotor education aimed at the integral development of the personality of the young children. Education is a difficult task, maybe one of the most complex, because our daily practice is a communication exercise, and like we have seen, the communication is not a simple process, of emission and reception of messages, because there is an inherent complexity to the very nature of the psyche, and we should be prepared to carry out it with awareness and responsibility.

The time that we dedicate to the practice of psychomotor education has a psychopedagogical value in the widest sense in the term. In that space of the room and during that time, the children express themselves with the conscience of being in a special environment that they don't enjoy in any other moment of the day. They are offered the opportunity to choose among many types of individual and group activities, and they exercise their freedom of choice and of action in an atmosphere of security and trust. The teacher is an active part of the session, from a singular symbolic place, different to the one he occupies as a classroom teacher and that, although it seems difficult that the children can discriminate against it, if we know how to present it with our attitude, we will see that they are able to assume it with total naturalness.

We are not speaking of a psycho motor specialist, but of early childhood educator that decides to assume the responsibility of doing relational psychomotor practice with his students. The general approach that should guide our acting in this area, is to offer a space and a special time so that the children can express themselves through free play. As we have commented, this is different from the type of activities that they can develop during recesses or in the classroom due to the characteristics that of the room, the way of experiencing it for the children and the teacher, the materials, and the adult's intervention that is carried out from a specific symbolic place and a different role of what is done in the classroom.

Josefina Sánchez Rodríguez and Miguel Llorca Linares highlight the features that should be present in the teacher's attitude to be able to carry out, in an efficient way, psychomotor education with the children of early childhood education programs:

•  The capacity to observe and listen in the room.

•  Psychomotor expression.

•  Ways of participating in the game to foster child development.

•  Competitions to elaborate creatively, different scenarios for the psychomotor practice.

•  Capacity and disposition for the observation of their own teaching actions.

Capacity to observe and listen

Observation and listening imply an intention of understanding what the child is expressing in his own psychomotor "speech". We have already spoken enough of the importance of knowing how to observe and listen to the manifestations of the children in any educational situation, but in psychomotor practice, this capacity is absolutely indispensable, because based on the sharpness of our perceptions, we will be able to carry out an intervention as adjusted as possible to the boy's needs.

So that observation can be carried out effectively, we should be separated from the group, in a specific space for such an end, from where the teacher observes the activity of the whole group. To be able to observe and to listen, that is to say, to perceive the meaning of the manifestations of the children, it is fundamental to take up the child's place: to perceive what he feels, what is the sense of his manifestations and his acts regarding the others and the material objects, the way in which he occupies his space, etc. That is to say, to capture the global dynamics of his relationships to be able to offer him an appropriate answer that helps him evolve, from the affective relationships between him and us.

Aucouturier says that, to listen to the child implies receiving the other one, accepting what he produces and perceiving the emotion as a unique experience that is the starting point of each person's itinerary.

The teacher should receive the child just as he is, with his difficulties, and provide him with an atmosphere of security by emphatically listening to him to start an evolution dynamics. A listening attitude means, from this point of view, a "tonic empathy" that is expressed at a corporal level, of physical contact, or at a distance, through the tone and cadence of the voice, looks, expressions, or body posture.

The importance given to the body in the school is very limited, because we are heirs of an intellectual tradition that emphasizes cognitive education, relegating the body and its manifestations to a secondary plane. For this is the reason the teacher's body is not available to physical contact, except for limited occasions and with certain children that require and demand it. In the psycho motor development room, on the contrary, the teacher's body should be completely available to corporal contact as a means of relationship and communication. The needs of the children mark their evolution. At the beginning, regardless of the chronological age, they can demand a more frequent corporal contact, but progressively, - although we know that in development there can be setbacks to well-known situations that offer security - the relationship stops being so close and there is a tonic adjustment that sustains communication at a distance, through mediators such as the voice, looks, expressions, etc.

As always, we will work with a group, it is important to try to observe all the children, in their general dynamics and each child in particular, in his relationship with the total group. In this sense it is frequent that we are more willing to keep in mind some children more than the others, either because they have some relationship difficulties or because we find them nicer, more pleasant, and we have established with them a special empathic relationship. As we said at the beginning, in the communication process we should keep in mind own psychological conditions, since they constitute the filter through which we perceive the others. Many times certain attitudes of the children set into motion our own unresolved and we don't feel a good disposition towards them, when in fact they are those that need us more. In general, the very quiet child that doesn't give us any "problems", or the one that gives us so many that we decide to leave him alone, ignoring him until some conflict of certain importance comes up requiring our intervention. In those cases it is convenient to reflect on why we are attracted to certain children and others do not produce on us the wish to approach them, mainly when this is repeated in many sessions. This aspect is part of the observation and listening to the others that is intimately linked to our affective conditions.

On the other hand, the capacity to listen and observe, - and this is not exclusive of psychomotor education-, entails that we know how to wait for the child to take the initiative in the election of the type of game that he wants to play, even if we think that it is better to go on with the game that he has been playing on the previous session or that according to his psychomotor conditions, he needs to practice a given activity. It is important to try to respect the child's wishes to be able to, this way, to respond to his apparent or latent requests, participating in the game when he requests it, carrying out proposals that make the game evolve toward other instances, and being able to go in and out of the different styles of relationship generated by play in the room.

Psychomotor expression

This is the time to remember the experience of Galileo and Thomas Hariot, related at the beginning of the book that highlighted the importance of having enough knowledge so that the look becomes observation and don't become an incomplete and mistaken superficial register of the phenomenon we are observing. When we are observing and listening to the child, we should consider a series of parameters that allow us to do the most complete possible analysis of their expression and the sense of their manifestations.

We will mention the following ones:

•  Body language.

•  Relationships with materials.

•  Use of the space and time where the action is developed.

•  Relationships between the children.

•  Relationships between the children and the adult.

All these parameters should be taken into account, logically, in terms of the chronological age of the children that we work with, to analyze them in terms of the normal rules of development. It is not the same the relationship that the children have with each other when they are two or three years old than the one they establish when they are five or six. Therefore, as the educators know their characteristics, that knowledge should be kept in mind for the observation of the psychomotor expression of the young children.

Body language expresses more, and more eloquently that what they can say with words, therefore an attentive observation of their way of looking, walking, their body posture, muscular tone as expressed in facial and muscular tension, etc., can give us many hints on how the child feels and his communication possibilities. The relationship that he establishes with the structured material such as toys, or with the less structured material, such as mattresses, balls, cardboard, cloth, geometric rubber foam shapes, etc., can be of diverse nature. For example, the child can always play the same thing with the same toy, session after session, in the same space of the room, without wanting to change activity. That often happens when he is trying to elaborate some unconscious content and it is struggling with very important internal situations for him, that which constitutes in itself a significant message, a sign that something is happening to him and that until he doesn't solve it, he will continue exploring it by means of play. In these cases the best thing is to let the child determine the time that he invests in the activity. Unless it becomes something really attractive, in the sense that there is not any indication of variation, although it is the same game, during a lot of time, the best thing is that the child feels the teacher's presence through his look of acceptance of the activity as something valid that belongs to him and that he gladly shares. The teacher can approach the child at a given moment and express with words what the child is doing, or tell him that it shows that he likes that activity, or to ask him some question that allows the child to verbalize something about his experience, as long as it is not lived by the child as an interference or a pressure for reveal something that he may not even be aware of.

When the group is large, as is the case of the school, the habitual thing it is that a great number of children find pleasure playing with the non structured materials and form groups to build constructions and symbolic activities that they create around them. The observations of the teacher should be aimed at identifying the roles of the children: who are the leaders that impose the norms and orders in the game and who are those that accept them, who do not participate actively but rather, let that the others to always propose what is finally done, what type of symbolic game is played regularly (for example, if they always build houses or closed spaces), if the spaces are shared or if they exclude the rest of the children, if the participation of the adult in the game is requested and if they vary the materials from one session to the other or if they always prefer to use the same ones.

This type of activity lends itself to conflicts, in which case, the teacher's intuition will be the guide to let him act appropriately. In principle, the best thing is not to intervene immediately, nor in a direct way "to dissolve" the conflict, but being present as a "representative of the norm", of the law that should be respected within the room. The most appropriate thing is to wait, while we observe the dialectical or physical exchange for the problem to be solved among the children. If this is not possible and we see that they cannot settle their differences in an autonomous way, which is habitual in these age groups, the educator should intervene as a mediator. The rules of behavior should be very clear as well as the commitment to accept them, therefore, when the mediator acts, he can do it by taking into account the approaches that we already mentioned in the chapter dedicated to the topic of conflicts and the teacher's role as a mediator.

The fundamental thing is that we all learn of that situation, the children and the educator, since each situation is unique, although the type of conflicts may be repeated. Our function is to promote situations of change and learning in each situation, which implies learning how to subordinate our own needs, interests and impulses to the common interests.

The teacher in the room can facilitate communication with the children using different mediators, such as looks, the voice, his own body, gestures, pantomime, materials, in short, all the elements that allow for a sensitive contact with the child, deepen and expand the space of communication, even when the answer is of rejection, because it is a part of the need of the child to reaffirm himself before the adult, indispensable at a given stage of the child's personal history.

We know that the language of the children in these ages is much more gesture that verbal, a reason why the teacher has to learn how to speak in their language. Especially in the psycho motor development room, it is very important that there is ongoing communication between the children and the educator through the imitation of the expressions and corporal attitudes that accompany their manifestations. Imitation allows them to enter at the same time in a symbolic exchange that facilitates communication. When a child makes a gesture to communicate something and the teacher imitates him, the child feels received and atuned with him. It is not necessary to clarify that we are not referring to mocking imitation, but to what we use as an answer to their expression in an example of complicity. The exchange of voiced sounds also supposes an affective interrelation of great significance, since it implies the resonance of a body inside another body. For that reason it is important that the educator knows how to change his voice, using different textures, intensities, modulations and colors, because the voice is a carrier of meaning, and the child is extremely sensitive to his variations. When the children are doing some activity, either individual or in groups, we can point to some aspect that interests us to single out through voice, with conventional words, but with sounds loaded with significance that delight, and provide a frame for the activity.

A special section deserves attention as a communication mediator, because through it serves for the deepest and subtle emotional communication that can take place among human beings. The whole varied register of our emotions is expressed through looks, even if we are not aware of it. With a look we can encourage, disappoint, promote, make happy, give security and even sustain affectively the other one at a distance. A mother tells her son when he is going to cross the street: "you cross and I look at you", and this is enough for the boy to feel sure, as if he was being led by the hand. For that reason it is important to be aware of our feelings and emotions when we work with children of these ages, because they are extraordinarily permeable to the sense that our way to looking at them carries.

Ways of involving the educator in the activities of the children

The relationship that the teacher maintains with the children in the classroom, is marked by the roles assigned by the school institution. Although we may try to establish a type of more personal bond, the certain thing is that the school has considerable force in the assignment of the roles that link the educators and the young ones.

The teacher in the classroom sees the children play or do different activities, but is not personally implicated with them, but rather he can help them to overcome certain difficulties or, in most of the cases, he supervises the acting of the children. Depending on the method with which one works, (through didactic units or of projects), the relationship can be more vertical or more horizontal, but in both instances,-while it is certain that the way and the work dynamics vary-, the relationship between the educator and students keeps responding to the modalities imposed by the predetermined roles.

On the other hand, the activity developed in the psycho motor development room generates a type of more symmetrical relationship that promotes a style of much more personal communication. Maybe, the teacher that is reading this, will find it complicated to accept that he can play two different roles with the same children just by changing space and activity. One can even think that it would be confusing for the children, since they would have to adapt to two types of relationship with the same person in two different situations. This concern is absolutely understandable, but the experience reaffirms us in the idea that both teachers and children possess the flexibility and the ductility needed to configure a type of new situation, of different psychological and dynamic nature, where the norms vary from the work relationship of the classroom, at the same time they generate a very singular emotional and social atmosphere. The room is changed by the children and the educator, into a space with own features, with an affective significance that us built as it is used as the scenario for the group of corporal and emotional manifestations deployed in a setting of freedom, trust and security.

The role played by the teacher as a "symbolic partner", which means that he is willing to consent to the boy's demands not as just another boy, but as the representation of a mate that, at a given time, is required to help carry out a construction or to play a specific role in the development of a game, and he can go in and out of the game as needed. The relationship is of a different, more flowing and less unequal tone, because he is no longer there to teach anything, but to configure, from a different subjective position, a communication dynamics that allows the child to feel accompanied and at the same time secure to be able to express without fears his fantasies and worries through free play.

The teacher should be available corporally to represent a welcome place, of contention, of projection of worries, insecurities and happiness, a symbolic place; so that the boy can have a stable reference to go to anytime he needs it. The space of the classroom does not lend itself totally for this, since it has been invested with significances that respond to a "school lifestyle". Those significances that are not tangible nor measurable, are those that determine the relational behavior of the children and the educators in the classroom. Although we have play hours or for free activities, the child continues to be in an environment meant for that subjective system of rules of behavior. In the same way, he has another way of feeling and therefore of being in the room, where the space, the type and distribution of materials, the rules of behavior and the attitude of the educator configure an environment of experiential participation; the teacher's body begins to have another significance for the child, which implies naturally that his own body can also be lived in a different way.

The diverse forms assumed by the teacher's implication in the child's play activity promote the participation and the evolution of their behaviors and attitudes toward maturation levels and more and more advanced development. Synthesizing, we can mention the varied strategies that the teacher can use when he enters the dynamics of the session in an active way (Adaptation from the text by Rodriguez and Linares published in the magazine quoted before):

•  The collaboration and the agreement that assume both the child and the educator when they participate together in any game, for example, to build a space with cushions or to pick up the materials. We are speaking of an authentic expression, sincere on the part of the educator, since otherwise, we can be sure that the child would perceive the non authenticity or the exaggeration of the expression, although he doesn't verbalize it, in which case, far from causing a stimulus, it fosters in the child the sensation that he is not able to do anything important that deserves the adult's genuine recognition.

•  The statement we make in the face of a positive change of relational behavior in the child that because of the important emotional significance educators have, generates a power capable of fixing and developing the achievements reached.

•  The reinforcement, understood as stimulus to the wishes of achievement of the child. For example, to offer timely help so that he can climb, or an action that tests his balance, to participate in part of a symbolic game so that it can go on, or simply with an attentive and encouraging look toward the intents and realizations, without neglecting none of the children. This is very important and difficult at the same time, since, habitually, the number of children is high, as well as the demands and requirements, depending on their ages.

•  The invitation that one can make through a look, an expression or a word, mainly in the cases of children that don't feel they have the right to use the space of the room and are confined in a limited area, or that their participation requires of a "push" of the educator to feel legitimate. This doesn't mean in any way to press him when the child is still not in condition of taking the step. In that sense it is necessary to be very wise and to know how to wait until receiving that "sign" that the educators know how to perceive when the observation is accompanied by a great dose of intuition and knowledge. To use that art assures us of not stopping to act in the opportune moment and to desist of our desire of making the boy move forward if he is not ready to do so.

•  The provocation that is another way of inviting, promotes a dynamics of aproaching the children or the educator. It can also be used in the cases when they need to discharge their aggressiveness, because that feeling prevents children from participating appropriately in play activities with their peers.

•  An example explained by Rodríguez and Linares on a situation like this it can be very clarifying:

"Berta was always the same in the sessions, she avoided the relationships with the adult and with her peers. Their encounters were fleeting and they became a sample of rage and confrontation. One day we decided to respond causing their anger: we showed her our teeth as a wild animal, mirroring her, and we come closer willing to fight. Her answer was quick enough, she fought with us during a time trying to destroy us. Her fight ended up in a game of complicity. After that day Berta had varied and different encounters with us and with the children."

•  The affectivity that is implicit in all psychological and physical manifestation imprints a tonality to the relationships and the encounters that take place in the room: when we set limits, when we are cheerful, when we smile or we hug each other. In this sense, the room is like a box where all the emotions that arise from the reciprocal relationships come up, and the teacher's art consists on being able to perceive them and to respond to them from the conscience of his own emotions.

•  To favor the child's autonomy is one of the main objectives of psychomotor education in these ages when their dependence on the adult is very high. To help them through free play so that they learn how to be the owners of their acts and to assume their consequences. This process of construction of autonomy and of relative independence should be built by the child on a base of security and well-being, mainly in the sense of having his physical and emotional necessities covered, since we will not be able to get anything good from him if we demand answers that the child cannot give because he is not able to. To keep in mind his personal situation, should be a constant attitude in the educator, since if the boy is going through an emotional difficult circumstance, such as the lingering absence of one of his parents, the arrival of a brother, a divorce, the illness of a dear relative, or any other situation that disturbs him, the most probable thing is that he looks for refuge in well-known situations that offer him security, going back in his achievements of autonomy, or is not able to advance to the same as the other children. In this case, it is necessary to assume an attitude of acceptance and to offer him all our support so he can process his conflict, without calls of attention that make him feel that the adult has other expectations regarding his performance.

Bruno Bettelheim comments on the case of a four year-old girl whose mother was going to have a baby and she reacted toward her pregnancy with a regressive behavior. She began to not control her sphincters, she insisted in being bottle-fed and most of the time crawled. The girl did not only play to be a girl once again but, rather, she wanted to represent a girl of short age. After some months, Bettelheim says, she substituted the regressive game for a more mature one that consisted of "being a good mother", tending her doll with a lot of care and responsibility. That is to say, at the beginning she identified with the baby that was to be born, and then with the mother. When the baby was born the girl had most of the work to assimilate the change in the family, her new and different place in it and to accept hew new brother was much easier than what her mother had supposed.

It is clear that the girl feared her brother was going to deprive her of her satisfactions, and this is why she tried get them herself, or she feared not being as small as the baby that her mother wanted and losing her affection, then she decided to be the son that her mother wanted. As her play manifestations were not repressed, the girl could be allowed to live her fantasies freely through play and to solve in her own way what was disturbing her. This example makes us see that it would not have helped, or rather, it would have been counterproductive, to tell the girl, as we usually do in these cases: "You will be the oldest and you will take care of your brother who will be much smaller than you", or to reprimand her for lack of physical control reminding her that she is too old for those things and that she has to behave as an older child.

If we keep in mind these approaches, we will be able to model our attitude and not to demand from the child behaviors that, although they may have already been acquired, they can suffer a setback as an effective resource to elaborate their conflicts: the children take a step backwards, as do sportsmen, to gain impulse and to be able to jump toward the goal.

•  Competence to elaborate creatively different scenarios for the psychomotor practice. The space for play activities should not be conceived as a fixed structure that we prepare the first day of class and we don't modify during the school year. Just the opposite, the room and the presentation of the materials should constitute a motivational element for the emergence of desires in the child that will be stimulated by the expectation that generates a creative disposition of the material in each session.

We can change the place and the disposition of the rubber foam structures that can be moved easily, and to place them in different ways: in towers, or closed spaces, or simulating roads, etc, in such a way that the children have every time a different perception and a reception of the intention of the educator of offering them a space prepared for their enjoyment. A space that always has something surprising, so that it unchains new emotions and experiences in the child, promoting sensory motor and symbolic rich and varied play.

Something that we should keep in mind is the convenience of alternating the spaces with many materials that invite to a multi sensory use, filling the spaces with a single material, especially when the children are very small, because the multiplicity of materials causes a logical dispersion inhibiting the capacity to focus the attention and their profitable use. There are no fixed formulas for the organization of the materials in the room, the only stable thing is the disposition of the educator to create stimulating spaces that adapt to the needs of the children.

One can think, and with reason that all this means an investment of energy time that we don't habitually have in the school routine. But this objection has its foundation if the educational project with which we work carries a curricular load that doesn't privilege the psychomotor education as guided practice to the child's integral development. It is a change of mentality on what is truly important to learn in these ages, of setting up a hierarchy of the objectives related to the fundamental needs of the children that, in our opinion, requires an emotional education that puts at the children's disposition the opportunities to learn how to be, to recognize their own identity, to moderate their impulses before the demands of reality, to play out their aggressive fantasies, to build their person's positive valuation, to take a healthy distance from the other one that allows him to acquire a relatively independent existence and, from there, to be able to establish interpersonal relationships based on self respect and toward the others. This way, psychomotor practice doesn't become, as it often happens, an isolated and independent activity of the rest of the curricular activities, on the contrary, it constitutes a basic and fundamental aspect of the program.

•  Capacity for the self observation. We have already talked about the importance of observing and listening to the child to be able to know him and to establish with him a significant interpersonal relationship that benefits his growth as a person. It is equally important to exercise the capacity for self observation and listening. All the professions require this ability, but teaching is maybe one of the jobs that benefits more from revision and self-criticism as a permanent practice. A teacher that is not permeable to criticism will never be able to be a great teacher. This is so for the very nature of our work, since there is no reality that is more changing and complex than that of the human relationships, and it is in the field of relations where we deploy our professional task.

The teacher has to learn from the children, from the experiences that we share with them, of our reflections, our errors and our successes. This is possible if we are able to keep an eye on our own performances not only academic, but pedagogic in the widest sense in the term.

In the topic that occupies us, we have emphasized the importance of promoting situations that allow the children to process their personal and interpersonal conflicts through a proposal of emotional education. We have highlighted in this respect the need to offer a space where they can show through free play, inside a proposal of psychomotor education with the participation of the classroom teacher as the guide of the experience. This means for the educator a challenge as he has to assume very subtle differences in their acting, but it is of great significance for the children, as long as the activity done in the room is of a different nature to the rest of activities that the children do during the rest of the day. This specificity is determined by the way of conceiving psycho motor development as fundamental educational practice for the development of the child's global personality, based mainly on the capacity of the body and motion to express its affective universe symbolically, in these ages where the linguistic competence is still being developed. For this reason, the educator should learn how to decode that body language, but not only in the children, but also in his own person. This what we mean when we speak of the self observation and listening by the teacher. In the same way that we need a thought process able to decode the thoughts of the others, we need knowledge about our emotions to be able to understand the emotional world of the children. This is not memorize from books, it is necessary to be willing to live a communication experience, of affective, expressive and receptive contact, and give an attentive look to our answers before the multiple and varied situations. In this sense we can speak of a double look: one on what the child does and another, on what we do, about the resonance that their reactions produce on us and our way to respond in each case.

The exercise of dual looking is the best school, since this way we will can learn by discovery; the adults come from the childhood, and our affectivity is not always flat and transparent, since, the same as with the young children, we have had to solve, in our own way, the conflicts that they now have to solve with our help.

It is through these two looks that the educator will learn little by little how to adjust his answers, developing his capacity to listen actively and to work on his difficulties. It is a taks of personal development that doesn't have limits, but just the opposite, it is an escalade in terms of permanent personal and professional development that it is worth carrying out in our own benefit and in that of the children served by our educational actions.

The power of literature in the child's emotional development

The concept of child and children's literature

The concern on the effects that traditional stories can have is present in the mind of many parents and also of educators from very distant times. The convenience of offering the children the opportunity to listen or to read this type of stories frequently appears in professional encounters among teachers discussing topics related with the encouragement to read. Their doubts rotate around the possible dangers that contain the stories of aggressive content and the negative effect that it can generate in the mind of the children of such young ages. These questions sometimes come from educators and other times from the parents who share their concerns with us on the use of these literary texts in the classroom. It is an ideological discussion expressed in the different conceptions of what is a child, what does childhood mean and that universe where their life is developed that we call "infantile."

Childhood has not always existed as a topic with its own entity. If we look back some centuries, we can verify that only from the beginning of the 18 th century the topic of the childhood began to be considered as such. Previously, no writing was done for children, the stories that we now consider traditional were written for the adults, without any intention that they reached the infantile population. But the children appropriated spontaneously of the stories, because thanks to the adult practice of oral transmission, they ended up being part of their culture.

The interest for this stage of the man's vital cycle became embodied later in historical terms, and it developed in different fields, especially in psychology and pedagogy, through the investigations of the characteristics of evolutionary development and the conditions for learning, in such a way that they shaped a "culture of the infantile" in which was part the toy industry, especially those that we know today as didactic toys. But that culture was governed by very specific approaches as to what it meant to be "a child". Childhood was conceived as a stage in which purity, innocence, kindness, the absence of aggressive feelings and sexuality, were essential characteristics that pedagogy had the duty of preserving and cultivating.

The stories that began to gain an important presence in the classroom, had to show the child a tailor made reality. Authors and educators were in perfect agreement as to the function to be played by children's literature, and they were devoted to write, and to disseminate, stories that they introduced to this ideal child acting in daily situations; stories without conflicts and contradictions, with a flat, harmonious reality, where supposedly the child could see himself reflected and confirmed.

The child of the stories was a being without conflicts, without anguishes, imbalances, without "unhealthy" restlessness or internal uneasiness that lived in a reality "of story", but of this type of stories, where the free fantasy was eradicated in favor of a design reality. Everything worked well between the child's internal reality and the external reality, and the stories had to show this harmony and fulfill the function of educating without allowing that the mind and the soul of the child got lost among the paths of fantasy. The topic of sexuality should be dealt with, but in a "realist", reasonable way; the reproductive process was taught by talking about the sexual activity in the nature, with examples of fecundations among plants, so that the child learned about the mechanism of reproduction in an unaffected manner, without sex, without fantasy, and without emotion. This way, all the dangerous connections with the dark and unknown side of the human condition were avoided.

This was the situation in the fifties, but still in our days those ideas are present in some sectors of our society, because the transformations in thoughts and beliefs operate very slowly, because we are heirs of the culture that has constituted us as people. Dewey said on this that the changes… "are not noticeable but only after several years have gone by. For this, it is required that a new generation comes about with mental habits that have been formed in other circumstances". This is not to place us in the arrogant position of one who has discovered the truth that clears all the contradictions of the past, but of assuming a critical and reflexive attitude that allows us to continue advancing, because there isn't, either, in any event, an absolute truth or a last word.

The 20th century has opened the doors to a set of knowledge in the field of the Psycho genetics and Psychology, with Piaget, Wallon and Freud that have changed substantially the way to conceive the human being and the early stages of his development. Genetic epistemology and psychoanalysis highlight the importance of the symbolic function for the knowledge and establishment of the relationships with the physical and human means. These authors affirm that the reality is symbolic, it is a construction interwoven with elements of the fantasy of the subject that perceives the real thing and transforms it to the measure of his needs and possibilities. Example of this is the symbolic play, through which the child "becomes..." or "he does that...”, making use of the elements of reality to transform them and to incorporate them as more and more complex structures of knowledge. Therefore, the symbol represents the free dimension of the relationship between the child and reality, that grants him a condition of singularity and special complexity.

Freud speaks about a psychic reality formed by structures that are formed in the exchange between the subject and the means, composed by thoughts and ambivalent feelings that configure the nascent psyche. It is a process of conflicting and painful development, where anxiety and insecurity appear as the main characteristics; also of an infantile sexuality that until that moment nobody had dared to outline, and that represents an essentially problematic and agitating aspect in the child's development. The theoretical discoveries and the clinical practice defined a childhood that had nothing to do with the golden childhood of other times. Reality is not separated from fantasy, and the relationship with the real thing is not harmonious, nor the child is that ideal child whose interior is pure harmony and kindness, and his development is not a linear and calm process of continuous evolution.

However, the moralist and realist stories continue having validity that in some cases substitutes the use of fairy tales as a way to fend off the dangers contained in the vocation of liberating the children from the devastating and harmful effects of fantasy.

What is the contribution of fairy tales to child development?

"There are things that take us beyond the world of words; it is as the mirror of the fairy tales: one sees oneself in it and what one sees is not oneself. For an instant we glimpse at the inaccessible things, claimed by our soul." Alexander Solzhenitsin

Not everything was forbidden regarding fantastic literature, a solution was thought of to satisfy at the same time the children who they loved to hear these stories, and not harm their minds and souls. With this purpose transformations were made in the texts eliminating the aggressive, sexual and violent scenes that gave the stories a moral and instructive side, a kind of mutilation of the word that, far from conserving the intrinsic value of the stories, it destroyed it, making them mediocre from the ethical and aesthetic point of view.

The educators know the quantity of different versions of the stories oral tradition of the Grimm brothers and of Charles Perrault, robbed in their adaptations of the cruelties "not apt for young children" that circulate in the homes and in our classrooms. The parents many times do not even notice that when they buy a book of traditional stories, what they are offering to their children is an adaptation and not the original, because they don't have the necessary information to be able to discern that exactly in these ages, it is important that the child reads or, if he is smaller he hears, the original version of the story, because only in that way will he be able to use it to elaborate imaginatively and without blames, most of the conflicts and restlessness that produce uneasiness in him. It is clear that some stories can be adapted in a linguistic sense, that is to say, modified in their syntax or vocabulary with the purpose of making them accessible to the child's understanding, but we should be careful that these adaptations do not have a character of moral or ethics censorship that robs the story of its true meaning.

In Bruno Bettelheim's well known work, "Psychoanalysis of fairy tales", he thoroughly explains which is the sense and function that these stories contribute to the infantile development. The author comments: " If he only has his resources, a child won't be able to imagine more than elaborations of the place where he really is, since he doesn't know the direction where he needs to go or how to arrive there. This is, by the way, one of the main contributions of fairy tales: they begin exactly where the child is from the emotional point of view, showing him the route to go on and telling him how to do it. That is achieved by means of a fantastic material that the child can imagine it best suits him, and of a series of images so that the child can easily understand all that he needs... If he is denied the access to the stories that communicate him implicitly that others also have the same fantasies, the boy ends up having the sensation that is the only one that imagines such things. A consequence of this is that the young child fears his own fantasies. On the other hand, the knowledge that others share his thoughts makes him feel that he is part of mankind part and it removes the fear that the destructive ideas make him different from the other ones". (B. Bettelheim, "Psychoanalysis of the stories of fairies". Ed. Critic 2004. p.130-131.

Another very interesting concept revealed by the analysis of Bettelheim, is related with the nature of the infantile thought, as long as it is always linked with fantasy, not as the normal adult that has been able to separate fantasy from reality in his thoughts. The pretense of the adults of making a child rationally understand the sense of his actions or the consequence of his acts through mature thinking, can only confuse and oppress him. The rational thought, for which the moralist and realist pedagogy plead cannot end up being ever the main instrument to express his feelings and to understand the world in which he lives. The fairy tales, on the other hand, offer the boy the possibility to solve many of the difficulties that are present in his inner world and the reality that he finds adverse. For example, Freud speaks to us of one of the anguishes, maybe the strongest that the human being experiences: the abandonment that is more intense the younger we are. Therefore, the relief that can be provided to a child by giving him the certainty that he will never be abandoned is enormous. As we know, many fairy tales end with the famous sentence “And they lived happily ever after". Bettelheim points out, that this sentence contains the certainty that the child yearns to feel that the characters meet again, after having sorted through a number of difficulties and they live a happy life together, that lasts forever. They also transmit to the children that life is full of difficulties and that to fight against them is unavoidable at the same time that positive, and that success depends in great measure of the effort and the zeal that we put into solving them. Sometimes, the stories transmit very sad feelings, however they rouse the children, not only for the literary value that they have and that the children know how to savor with delight, but because, in spite of the problems that their characters have to face, their stories have a happy end.

"The three little pigs"

It would be difficult to find an Early Childhood Educator that has not seen the absorbed faces of his students while they listen to the story of "The three little pigs". Of all the traditional narrations that we use in the classroom, maybe this is one has the biggest acceptance in the heart of the young children who, after hearing it for the first time, ask to listen to it day after day, demanding of the narrator the same words, the same voice tone and the same emotion in the story.

Bruno Bettelheim in the book already mentioned, "Psychoanalysis of fairy tales", does an interesting analysis of this story, the simbology that the characters contain highlighting the actions that they carry out and the outcome, as metaphors of the process of growth and development of the personality. He says that the child, identifying with each one of the three pigs, learns, without being aware of it that people evolve, and that growth has big advantages, since the third of them that is represented graphically as the biggest and bigger, the one who finally conquers the enemy, combining the effort of work, intelligence and rational planning. For the child's understanding, the three animals symbolize, unconsciously, evolution and man's progress, from a state of immaturity, represented by the two first piglets, to the mature condition of the one who knows how to face the conflicts in an intelligent way and, mainly, has achieved the capacity to defer the immediate execution of his desires (in this case, to play and enjoy the moment without thinking of the consequences), for the execution of a goal that will provide him security, well-being and the satisfaction of having conquered the enemy.

As for the symbolization of the child's internal world, of the intra psychic instances, (It, Me and Superme) the wolf represents the antisocial forces (It) of people and of which we should learn how to defend ourselves with the strength of a balanced Me that acts based on the principle of reality, deferring the impulses and the tendency to satisfy them without any concern. The three piglets symbolize that evolution, desirable in the human being that allows him a transformation in which a part of the pleasure is repressed, and the satisfaction is achieved keeping in mind the demands that imposed by reality. We can see this in the behavior of the third pig who takes enough time to build a house of bricks, and gets up very early in the morning to avoid the wolf. This way he makes sure he can have a delicious meal, while the other two, in a different level, prefer to play and enjoy the immediate thing, building not very solid houses, without foreseeing the consequences of their behaviors.

In the words of Bettelheim: "The three pigs guide the child's thoughts on his own development without ever telling him what he should do, allowing the boy to reach his own conclusions. This method contributes to maturation, while if we explain to the child what he should do, the only thing that we would get would be to substitute the slavery of his immaturity for the slavery that implies to follow the orders of the adults."

Literature and affectivity in the child

The relationship of literature with the human being's general development constitutes a link to learning, socialization, verbal and cognitive development, and to the process of emotional development. All these aspects have great importance in the child's evolution, but we will highlight this last one, to consider that emotional education finds in literature a significant ally, since literary narration approaches the two levels of the psychic structure simultaneously: the intra subjective and the interpersonal.

Intra subjective dimension in literature
Interpersonal dimension of narration

Symbolization of intra psychic instances.

Good infantile narrations have a development in which there are always characters, barriers, obstacles, compensations and results, just as Propp analyzed in his study on Russian stories. Based on this narrative structure there are contradictions and conflicts that resonate in the boy's internal world, stimulating his fantasy and allowing him to put a face to what he feels internally as threatening. As we saw previously, in the story "The three little pigs", literary narrations promote the symbolization and the elaboration among the different instances of the psyche (It, Me and Superme) that are represented by the characters of the story, and they allow the child to find orientations and solutions to the problems presented to him in the development process.

Neutralization of fears and anxieties

The conflicts of the boy's affective development are manifested through sensations of fear, phobias, nightmares or apprehensions of any kind. Nightmares are often frequent and they show the inexpressible character of these conflicts. In this sense, infantile literature contains a symbolic arsenal that allows the child to sum up these fears through actions and precise characters, being able to elaborate his conflicts in the same way that he does when playing, symbolizing, with procedures and outcomes.

Formation of the family novel

"The family novel" it is the name given in psychoanalysis to the evolutionary narrative structure that the child builds imaginarily in the to organize the events of his personal history, allowing him to coin a sense of the past, of the future and of the present. This "narrative system" is essential to organize the ideals, values and feelings of identity, and literature, with its diverse proposals, offers him new alternatives that enrich the possibilities that the child has to build his own narration of life.

Apart from the intra psychic function that we have referred to above, infantile literature promotes possibilities of relation, since through its stories the boy is socialized and sees the life of the others as equivalent to his own. Infantile literature works with universal topics that transcend the immediate historical and cultural particularity and takes up ethical values that can be applied to almost all the societies. This is very important because it promotes the affective incorporation of the inknown facilitating an experience of cognitive and emotional order.

As a “transitional object" of culture

Literature can be a transitional object, of which Winnicott speaks, as in the case of the toy or the object to which the child is linked to be able to move toward the outside away from the maternal relationship. Literary narrations allow the boy to incorporate an entire world of representations, establishing a bridge between their internal world and the exterior, in the same way that he does with the object, with the difference that literature provides a bigger wealth and symbolic complexity.

On the other hand, the child lives the narration as a possession in the word and in his memory, that allows him to construct his own world, a personal universe that he retains in the words and that many times constitutes a bond, for that reason it is frequent that the children demand to hear the story in the same words and with the same tone as it was told the first time. Lastly, and very important, literature contributes an exercise of autonomy, maybe the first one, in the sense that it offers the child the possibility to build his own narration.

Contemporary literature for children

As all we know, there are good and bad books of stories, or rather, literature exists and "other things" that intend to be so, at the expense of good formats, attractive illustrations and seductive covers. The certain thing is that it is not easy to find a good book, and we have to dedicate a lot of time to the task of investigating and selecting the literary items for the classroom library or the Center, with copies that fulfill the function of developing the imagination, process emotional conflicts, and feed the reader's aesthetic sense.

The educators should give up the pretense that the books of stories for children necessarily transmit academic knowledge and ethical-moral norms that make sense fundamentally for the adult, as long as they feel the responsibility of bringing literature closer to young children so that "it serves" to certain objectives: to work general topics, or vocabulary, or the cycle of life, or the colors or the letters... in short, to subordinate art to pedagogy. Literature has a wealth that transcends those purposes, it possesses the magic to expand the emotional universe and provide an aesthetic enjoyment that feeds and enriches the spirit of the children in an unequal way.

In many occasions, the teachers that attend workshops of reading animation, comment that their approach to choosing the books of stories for the classroom is of academic character, that is to say, they select the stories for the relationship that they have with the topic that is being dealt with in the didactic unit. We don't say that that this should not be done, what we want to highlight is that the story time in early childhood education - and in all the stages of schooling - should be fundamentally a moment of pleasure. "To take the children seriously, - says Luis Daniel González* (Luis Daniel Gonzalez, “Treasures for the memory”, 2002, p.31 ),… like the best stories for them do, means not to see childhood as a period of time awaiting to get bigger, but as the years of formation of the character, that group of values that compose a whole personality and that prepare the child to face his own development..." On the other hand, a good story, from the narrative and literary point of view, always offers the possibility of working some important aspect that contributes to the child's development. A good story to be read the children, is not one that treats infantile topics in a childish way, but which refers to life, emotions, and sensations, with enough subtlety and sensibility to impact the child's affective listening. Lastly, and without aiming to make a rule of this, if a story leaves the adult indifferent, or it bores him, the most probable thing is that the same will happen to the children; consequently, when a story moves us and gives us a good time, in the wide sense of the term, there will be many possibilities that the children are also moved by it. To read and to reread the stories before sharing them with the children, to enjoy them, to be moved and to fall in love with them is a basic requirement so that we cannot only transmit the word, but their sense through the voice and the expression that is born of our own affective implication.

Previous selection should be an indispensable task every year, because only this way we will be able to have a well-known, previously revised and up-to-date material to work with when we consider it more opportune.

In this sense, the educator is also a mediator between the word and the child, both when he reads, as when he prepares him so that he is able to look for and find what he likes in an autonomous way. For that reason it is important that since they are very young they can be in contact with a variety of topics and styles that offer a wide vision of reality and provide elements for reflection.

Teaching methodology for the construction of autonomy, creativity and self esteem

For good or for bad, when we undertake the task of educating, the effects of our action spread on all the aspects of child development. When we teach, along with the specific contents of the areas, we are teaching to learn in a certain way, which implies creating in the child an awareness of their condition as subject of knowledge, as epistemological subjects.

If the educator is adjusted to a specific program, and he uses a transmission form of work to carry out the teaching-learning process, the child will learn that his possibility to grow intellectually, of knowing all that he wants to know, depend completely on his teacher, because he doesn't have anything to contribute, but "to exercise his will" paying attention to what the educator tells him and to follow to the letter his indications on the procedure that he has to carry out, the same as all his classmates, to achieve success. He will learn, about all the things that he is not able to create, invent, propose, investigate, in short, of being the main character of something as personal and intimate as the cognitive relationship with the physical and human world. This determines the form of assuming oneself and, ultimately, the affective valuation regarding one's own person.

On the other hand, the educator will measure his professional success in the measure that he has obtained uniformity in the achievement of the planned cognitive objectives in all of the children. Beyond the contents that some children may have achieved in their intellectual learning that, generally speaking is not uniform, since each child has his own time and rhythm to learn, what children do learn, and all at the same time, is that they cannot be the builders of their own learning that they are not able to contribute ideas and to develop them according to their own creative capacities, that the truly important thing is what the adults say, and that their desires to appropriate this world that they want to know, their innate curiosity, their restlessness, will have to wait – at the risk of disappearing forever - to the decision of an adult who knows what, how and when they should approach the topics that have pedagogic importance.

For the teacher that follows a stable, systematic programming carefully organized in didactic units, there is no time to stops to listen the children and to know what they have to say on what interests them, or their ideas on how to methodologically approach those contents, because that "takes time away" from the development of the curriculum that has to completed.

This maybe sounds like a somewhat extreme interpretation of the situation that one lives in the classrooms. However, it perhaps happens in the sense that not all the teachers that follow the dynamics of a program in didactic units neglect the interests of their students, and there are those who try to incorporate them and combine them with the requirements of the program. But we outline it in a polarized way to highlight the differences among a pedagogic conception centered in the creative process, and another that privileges the transmission of contents, without stopping to consider that as in any reality, nothing is black or white, but that there is a range of shades between both postures.

We do this consideration with the purpose of stressing the fundamental importance of the pedagogic relationship, understood as the thematic, methodological and relation aspects for the development of the child's personality. In a work titled "Piaget in the classroom" that was published for the first time in the year 1981, several authors deal with, through investigations and theoretical and methodological proposals, the correspondence among the concepts of Piaget's theory and the pedagogic action in the classroom. In chapter 12 of this book, one of the authors, Eleanor Duckworth, refers to the capacity that the children possess to create brilliant ideas, to the conditions that the teacher should offer so that this is possible and to the capacity of the educator to value them as such. She comments that all the educators are aware of the progresses that the children make in their first two years of life, and he wonders for what reason that capacity to generate "brilliant ideas" that the child has, based on the child's curiosity and on his insatiable desire to learn all that he does not know, disappears in the later years. Maybe part of the answer, the author says, has to do with the scarce importance that the educators assign to the actions of the children, product of their indefatigable curiosity, their questions, their way of relating and finding answers characteristic to their restlessness. Many times we take these questions as trivial or banal, because we are too busy in giving priority to the contents that we should cover, and the authentic demands of the children distract us from the preset class plan. Therefore, they fall a lot of first class materials falls in a broken sack that could be worked on following the course of the boy's genuine queries, approaching, many aspects linked to the topic of their interest. This implies, of course, a change in the educational system. It is a conception of the act of teaching and of learning that sinks its roots in a focus that it is not new, but has been around for many decades, since Piaget and Wallon, from genetic epistemology, and Freinet, from pedagogy - to only name some representative authors -, who talked about the mechanism through which the human being consented to knowledge and the way in which pedagogy could put into practice these discoveries. However, although these concepts are accepted officially by the institutions in charge of Education, and by educators in general, the practice takes charge, in many cases of discrediting them. There is an apparent incongruity between what we think and what we do, or also, a difference between what we understand and the true meaning of those contributions.

In any case, it is good to be aware of this situation and to review, at the light of personal reflection, our educational practice in terms of our own references and those that can give us other experiences in the field of the education.

Pedagogy of respect and discovery

The fundamental purpose of early childhood education is, in our opinion, to offer the children all the possibilities that are within our reach so that they can observe the world, think about it, question, investigate and respond to the questions that disturb them emotionally and cognitively. The educator's function, as it has been said so many times, it is to facilitate that process, being placed "behind and before the child. Behind, to observe and learn what are his interests, and before, to be able to guide him in his searches and solutions. To guide doesn't mean to offer the correct answers, but to place oneself in the child's place, in his way of thinking, to be able to answer the questions that promote his cognitive mechanisms, to anticipate the consequences of his reasonings, to use his intuition that is mainly a type of very important thinking in these ages, and to risk answers without being afraid of making a mistake. Somebody said that intellectual work is an exercise of questioning one's own convictions. What happens many times is that we privilege and value positively the correct answers more than the uncertainty, the doubts and the errors, this is why the child gets used to depend on the opinion of the educator in terms of true or false answers, acquiring the habit of mechanically repeating the answers and devaluating his own intellectual and affective efforts in the act of knowing.

The way that we propose learning from the methodological point of view, has decisive consequences in the construction of the global personality of the one who learns, since it is not the same thing to train the child from these early ages for "to play" with thoughts and ideas, in the same way that he does it when he uses material objects than to accustom him to the sterile dependence of the adult to solve his problems, be them of whatever order they are. There are many habits and dexterities that we think about developing in education, but one of the most important is maybe the development of autonomy and creativity. An autonomous person has the possibility to be creative, and that awareness of knowing how to solve difficulties of any order with relative independence, - since absolute independence doesn't exist in human relationships - grants him a feeling of appreciation and self esteem that benefits his way of feeling towards the others, laying down the bases for good coexistence.

Many of the problems of aggressiveness and violence that frequently happen in the educational settings, have as their last cause, a feeling of low affective valuation that takes children and youth to form groups of criminal nature, where they are recognized by their irrational and arbitrary capacity to damage others, using the power of the body as their only instrument to show off. We don't want at all to point to the school as responsible for this social phenomenon, because the etiology of this illness that grows every day obeys to multiple factors, of internal and external order that exceed the limits of the school institution. But as educators we have a gigantic task to carry out in the field of educational prevention, since we deal with human beings that are in the beginning of their life, and education should deploy all its power to assure them, whenever it is possible, a good quality of life inside a limit of ethical and moral values that promote positive coexistence. The way to educate is not an element of little value in this sense. Educators can help to build, from very early, the conscience of commitment and belonging in the act of learning, promoting the construction of autonomy and the exercise of creativity. This constructive way to focus learning embraces all the areas of formation, not only those referred to the intellectual contents. The children don't learn how to be good or bad because we tell them, but rather their personality is built based on a system of values that they incorporate through an intimate experience, discovering and differentiating the causes, the manifestations and the consequences of their inadequate behavior in a reasoned way, with the adult's intervention as mediator, as facilitator of that learning.

Our task, lastly, should not consist of providing the best solutions to the conflicts that are generated in the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, but teaching to learn the best way to negotiate them, in favor of the general wellbeing. This is not achieved with punishment or with the demands of the norm imposed from the outside, but through a slow and consequent work that promotes the child's reflection for the construction of an ethics of human relationships based on the respect for oneself and toward the others.