Friday, September 23, 2016

Robot Children: Monday and Tuesday Class 3 and Class 4

How do we plan and prepare for our students at Wonder Studio?

There's a lot of things to consider...let me tell you!!
I think of my students who prefer having a designated space to work individually. These students remind me of my daughter who was and still is an observer. 
But, also I plan for experiences that will inspire children to play together.
What does it mean to "Play Together"? 

So often, I think we are looking for Successes and days and hours where our children are happy, content, and things are going very smoothly.
I admit, I like those days too. It's a lot less stressful.
And, it's fantastic when you picture raising children who sit eagerly wanting to soak in all that you want to teach them. 
They do as you say...they never misbehave...they never get scared...they never question the status quo or authority. They never do strange things that are out of the ordinary. 
They are cute in their outfits...They are cute in their drawings...
They are cute. Period.
Well, we all know that I am talking about Robots.
Robot children of course.
Soon to be on sale at later this week.
The robot child is predictable. The robot child follows your commands. The robot child follows Dr.'s developmental charts. You don't have to say anything 2x...the Robot child gets it, immediately.
You can depend on your robot child to be very cute.
Well, at least, I think that's what the Ad read.
Well, the only problem that they have encountered with the Robot child is that he/she cannot love. 
Hmmmm...maybe we could overlook this small anomaly??
No, I think probably not.
I cannot live as a Mother without Love.
And, as we all know. Love comes with all those other emotions too. God Damn it. 
Hate, anger, confusion, anxiety, excited, over-excited, curious, etc...
All the really, "not so cute" stuff.
Well, that's just the thing. Real children do feel a wide array of emotions.
They feel 'em and sometimes they even Express 'em.
Jaron was frustrated when Jack wouldn't give him the Blue "man".
He reached out with his hand, he asked very nicely...and still Jack said, "No."
"But there are 2 blue "men" Jack, one of the moms said...Why don't you give Jaron one and you have one?"
"No." says Jack. He wants 'em both!
Jack protects his "men" and his block castle. He stops building and becomes frustrated as well.
Jaron builds beside him for a few minutes but then remembers the blue guy and asks Jack again.
Really,'s been 5 minutes. Surely, that's long enough...the adults are ready to Force some sharing at this point.
But, is it really sharing when someone else Makes you do it?
What does the child learn in that scenario?

I think we all want some sense of control over our lives.
I think children are the same.
They want power.
They need power.
There are so many times when we control their lives.
As we should. Children do need adults to protect them and keep them safe and alive.

But, are there other times when we can allow children to feel emotions?
Are there times where we can let them FAIL?
Are there times when they don't have to be cute?

What does it feel like to NOT get the blue guy?
What does that disappointment fuel inside of Jaron?

What does Jack feel as he holds on to the Blue guys. Protecting them from Jaron.
Does he feel a sense of pride at his accomplishment?
Then, here comes Alexa.
She comes over, knocks over the Castle...blocks everywhere.
Blue guys are in confusion. One here, one there.
Jack walks away.
Jaron's mom sees a blue guy on the floor. "Jaron, look, now you can have a blue guy!"
Jaron too walks away.
The blue guy is left on his own. Abandoned.
No hard feelings.
The blue guy is soon forgotten.
But, the thrill of the battle still lingers.
Something was gained, something was lost, and above all...there was Love, there was Hate, there was Emotion, and there was some serious learning.
It wasn't cute, though.
Now, I know the Robot children always share when the Mommy requests it. And, it's tempting. Oh, so tempting.
But, I'm not sure that I could love my robot children.
It's sad to say it, I know it's probably shocking to read it.
But, I'll take my Human child...I still have too much to learn from life...from love...from hate...from Not sharing.
They're not always cute, but I'll take 'em.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fall 2016 Class 1: Why?

What does it mean?
We can't help but ask these questions.
We are supposed to ask these questions.
Children often ask these questions.
This week, one of my toddler friends, asked me "Why?"

I love that first words are Da, Mom, ball, love, NO, etc...
But, can we remember our child's first question?
Maybe it was "Why?"
Children are searching for meaning in all that they do.
Watch their play.
Watch their eyes.
They are trying so hard to understand this world.
They want to interact with the world.
They want to communicate with you.
One of my favorite Cat Stevens (or Yusuf Islam ) songs: Father & Son.
This particular lyric always gives me pause:
"From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen"
A truth.
We demand our child's attention so often.
"Do you hear me?"
This is why I love Piaget and Vygotsky and the educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
They are listening to children.
They believe the child has so much to teach us.
"We cannot live without meaning, because that would leave our lives empty of identity, hope, or sense of the future. Children know this; they have desire and ability to search for the meaning of life and their own sense of self as soon as they are born."
The Hundred Languages of Children p. 234
Carlina Rinaldi
The pre-primary schools in Reggio have a Pedagogy of Listening.
This is the heart of what they believe.
It's not a curriculum.
It is a Philosophy.
When you are at Wonder Studio, we are trying to listen to the children.
Rinaldi says," Real Listening requires the suspension of judgments and prejudices. 
If you believe that others are a source of your learning, identity, and knowledge, you have opened an important door to the joy of being together. We are not separated by our differences but connected by them. 
It is because of my difference that I am useful to you because I offer another perspective."
p. 236
We come to this place searching for meaning.
We want to provide a context for making meaning.
We believe that the Arts and Sciences and play provide this opportunity.
"When they ask "Why?" they are not simply asking for the answers from you. They are requesting the courage to find a collection of possible answers."
p. 239
Children want our conversation. The picture above and the 2 below perfectly illustrate my point.
Connection through creativity.
The arts provide a meaningful context to begin a conversation with you.
Are you ready to listen?