Love at daycare
Caroline Marchand is a childhood educator who works with 4-year-old kids. In the past year, a few couples were formed in her group. Little pairs that chose their activities together, held hands, hugged and sometimes even kissed. The situation made the educator feel uncomfortable, especially when she heard comments that made other children sad, such as “If you’re not there tomorrow, Matthew will be my boyfriend”. She decided to have a discussion with her group: “In this room, we are all friends, there’s no more love stories. Our hearts are like school buses: we can have many people in our hearts without being lovers. Kissing on the mouth is reserved for older people.” It’s not always easy for her to keep control over things. She realizes that many children identify with the social standard of “being in a relationship”, but they understand quite well when she intervenes and brings back the subject with them.
Love at school
Martine Desautels taught 5th and 6th grade for many years. She says that although love affairs are a part of kids’ lives since kindergarten, it’s still more common with 10-12-year-olds. And if love stories don’t have the same significance at that age as they do for adults, as a teacher, she still needs to take them seriously.
At that age, kids form couples to create their identity or to be like everyone else. It’s the age at which peer pressure and others’ opinion are very important. They want to please and be popular. And even if most of these relationships are short-lived, the love is very present and often quite intense!
The school’s reaction to all of this? “Most teachers tolerate the exchange of love notes or holding hands in the schoolyard. However, most schools have a code of living forbidding all kinds of PDA.The playground is a place to play, socialize and have fun, and the classroom is a place to learn”, says Martine.
Teachers have to pay attention to the heartaches and jealousies caused by these love affairs and their breakups. It often has an impact on the child’s school and social life. “The teacher needs to listen to their students to help and support them, and give them the tools to deal with all these experiences.” They must also be the bridge between the kids and their parents about what the children are going through at school... love stories included! This communication is essential to help parents guide their child to their best abilities in these very emotional situations.