The following story was written by a teacher at a Child Friendly Space (CFS) in a factory in Yiwu, Jiangsu Province. The story is based on real-life child who is currently attending the CFS this summer. Many of the children at CFS live with their grandparents in their hometowns and rarely see their parents throughout the year. It is quite common for these children to be extremely shy and introverted at the beginning, but as this story shows, professional teachers who put in the extra effort to encourage and motivate children, can make have a massive, positive impact on the children.
At the CFS, I often talk to each child enthusiastically, especially the ones whose personalities stand out from the others. But most of all, it’s my intention to be there for them if they want to converse.
Yiyi is a pretty, well-kempt young girl. The only thing is, she wouldn’t speak nor smile. During activities, she would sometimes glance up at me but as soon as my eye would met hers, she would quickly looked away. Is it because she was extremely shy? When she would arrive at CFS in the mornings, I would actively go over to greet her. “Yiyi, good morning. You’ve arrived early today.” No response. Not even a facial expression.
“You’re wearing a really pretty dress today. Who bought it for you?” It’s like she didn’t hear me.
“Did your mum buy it for you?”. Nothing.
“Your braids are really nice.” “Today you’re already able to draw a tree and flowers. That’s so great!”
No matter what I said, she wouldn’t answer and would just nod her head in response.
During the free play time, the big kids do homework and the smaller kids play with toys. One day I saw her go to the soft toys section and quietly play by herself. I went over to her and asked her on purpose: “Are you a big kid or a small kid? Be clear because the teacher needs to know whether you’re playing in the right area.”
“I’m a little kid,” she answered. She finally said something. I was so happy.
Now that the ice was broken, I would always speak to hear when she arrived at CFS. Slowly but surely, she began to speak more and hold my gaze. She began also began to answer more and more of my questions. Gradually she transformed from being extremely quiet and introverted, to being a cheerful member of CFS. Thanks to the support and encouragement she received, she gained the confidence to stand up on stage and recite poetry. Listening to her well-rehearsed, fluent recitals, I couldn’t help but feel so happy and proud.
Yiyi’s parents were delighted with the changes in their daughter. They thanked me profusely and said that Yiyi often comes home and tells them that the CFS teacher is good and that she likes her.
CFS is a place where children should feel safe and at home, and where they can be happy and develop to their full potential.
Yiyi playing with the foam blocks at CFS.
Yiyi on stage reciting poetry with other children at the CFS.
Yiyi reading traditional Chinese poetry with her CFS classmates.