Thursday, April 29, 2010

10:30 Wonder Science: Blowing, Growing Chick, Toilet Paper, Sand, Shaving cream mixing

Creating a community of learners...

If our image of the child is a strong one and we see them as competent, strong, and knowledgeable, we must show them that we believe this.

Loris Malaguzzi said it best:
"We have to let children be with children. Children learn a lot from other children, and adults learn from children being with children. Children love to learn among themselves, and they learn things that it would never be possible to learn from interactions with an adult."

Sometimes, in our efforts to protect our children, we interfere before giving the children a chance to work it out themselves.

Example: One child is playing at the water table. Another child comes over and squeezes in beside him. A mother (or caregiver) intervenes and says, "Come and play on the other side."

This scenario has happened so many times and probably each parent has been guilty of saying this (including myself!!).
What is the harm in letting the children squeeze next to one another? If one child is upset, they will naturally move to the other side, go somewhere else, or possibly cry/hit or some other negative reaction.
That's when we intervene with helpful suggestions.
But how do we know when to intervene? Take a breath, observe the situation for 1 minute before making a judgement about what should happen, we might be surprised. I often say to myself, "see what happens, wait...., Is anyone going to get hurt?, leave them alone!!"

I believe that giving the children time to work it out, shows a deep respect and confidence in our children.

To help children see each other as resources and allies, we can point it out to them. For example, H. wanted another color to spray on her shaving cream mixture. We said to E., "Could you spray H.'s shaving cream mixture?" He agreed and then went on to spray other children's mixtures as well! This puts him in a position of strength and capability that he can feel himself and be proud of! But, also the other children will learn to see other children as strong and competent, thereby seeing themselves as strong and competent!

One of my constant internal dialogues (which is much easier to do as a teacher as opposed to being a parent) is:
Never do for a child that which he/she can do for himself!
Never do for a child that which another child might be able to do for another child!

Often my daughter will cry or be frustrated when I follow this dialogue. But then I in her....and she feels pride and confidence when she is able to follow through and do it herself or help another child! While it is hard to see them cry or feel this frustration, if our image of children is strong, we must show them that we believe this and that they are strong and capable!

Here is another important example of showing children how to ask another child for help. H. has difficulty balancing her structure. A child right next to her has accomplished it. Here we can suggest, "H. can you ask J. for help? or J. can you help H. to stand up her structure?" Then we sit back and watch. Wait.....Wait.....Let them work on it together.

The younger one is watching this collaboration!

Again, here we can create a shared experience instead of an individual one. We can say, "Who else wants to water the plants?" "Can you wait for E. to come back and water together?"

Wonder Wednesday!

The purpose behind a blog:
Why is documentation of each class so important?

Documentation is one of the key components in a Reggio-Inspired program.
What do you mean Reggio? check this link:

"Documentation offers the teacher a unique opportunity to listen again, see again, and therefore revisit individually and with others the events and processes in which she was protagonist.

In regard to the children, participating in the class, documentation offers an opportunity for revisiting, reflecting, and interpreting. Documentation supports the child's memory offering them the opportunity to retrace their own processes, to find confirmation or negation, and to self-correct.

Documentation offers parents the possibility to know not only what their child is doing, but also how and why, to see not only the products but also the processes. Therefore, parents become aware of the meaning that the chid gives to what he or she does, and the shared meanings that children have with other children. "
The Hundred Languages of Children

Here 3 of the toddlers are entering into a shared experience with the tunnels and balls. Sharing a space is often difficult or threatening for small children, it's important for adults to respect the child who needs his/her space. But there is a delicate balance for us all to find with introducing the children to the idea of seeing other children as playmates not competitors for toys, or space.

What are they learning?
Couldn't they be doing this at home?
While parents are hesitant to ask me this, I know it crosses minds.
I see learning in every action a child takes. My job sometimes is to help you see it too.
You see a child playing with water.
I see a child strengthening their fine-motor development by squeezing a bottle filled with water.
You see a child repetitively pouring water through a funnel over and over again and you are bored with it.
I see a child's inquiry and curiosity in discovering what happens when squeezing water through a bottle into a funnel, as well as a strong determination and willingness to exhibit a long attention span in order to understand a new idea.
You see a child staring at others and not playing with anyone else.
I see a child paying close attention to those around them (even if they are not directly interacting) and learning from a new perspective.
You see adults listening to children.
I see children taking charge of their own learning. In the studio, they are all protagonists, scientists, artists, explorers. Here they are free to direct themselves, discover themselves, and joyfully take part in a group experience.

What a great way to identify with the worms. What does it feel like to be squirted with a spray bottle?