Keep a look out for small groups of excited children dashing round the churchyard and the village during the next few weeks! Why aren’t they at school on a weekday afternoon? Because these 8- and 9-year olds are enjoying a joint project between Rose Hill Junior Youth Club, Rose Hill Primary School and Living Stones. They are busy increasing their Speaking and Listening skills. How? By stepping outside their familiar environment (home – school), and engaging with the wider world around them. This, we hope, will increase their confidence, widen their understanding and boost their learning.
You will hear them as they walk down East Church with Abi, their Youth Club leader, Tracey, their teaching assistant from school, and volunteers from Living Stones. If you, like Grace’s father, bump into these beaming children, please give them an enormous smile just like his. This gave us all the confidence we needed.
Iffley Church can be daunting for a small child. You approach it past gravestones. The tower is formidable. The inside of the church is a place you may not be quite sure how to behave in, and the acoustics are thrilling. ‘I’m scared!’ said Marley. Davie did a lot of running. Andrew and I were glad that Abi was in control!
During their first visit the children searched for flags inside and outside the church. This gave them a sense of the lie of the land and a chance to look carefully at things that caught their imagination. ‘Do you own this place?’ Derin asked me, busy reading every inscription she could find.
All the children took photos. The flowers in the churchyard were special favourites, and as well as the ‘dragon’ boss in the chancel, the little bird flying up from its nest and the beakheads round the west door. They were enchanted by the windows, the candelabra, the big Bible on the lectern, and a friendly little dog they met by the chestnut stump.
The second time the children visited they walked down to the lock. They couldn’t have behaved more sensibly, even when a large flock of geese advanced on them! They even helped the lock-keeper operate the gates so that the boats could go through. Seeing fishes swimming was the biggest thrill of all for some of the young naturalists.
The visits ended surprisingly calmly with everyone drawing and colouring beakhead pictures in the Hall. The adults drew too. ‘Good for the soul,’ said one. Davie told a long and thrilling story which everyone listened to. When asked what they had enjoyed best they said, ‘the game with the flags, colouring, being inside the church, the gargoyles on the tower, and seeing the fish!’
Do join in if you can! The children really thrive on as much attention as they can get! Contact Penny on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07813 692866.