#5: STEM

101_6171¬†Good afternoon! ūüôā

I’m back with my final installment to my mini series of blog posts. ¬†If you’ve just joined the conversation please take some time to read through my other blogs. ¬†As always, please like and share this posting so others can join the conversation! ¬†I enjoy learning from others too!

101_3770Today’s discussion will be centered around aspects of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). ¬†There is a lot more to STEM than what I would like to discuss today, but you can find all sorts of stuff on other websites. ¬†For now, I would like to focus on how important STEM can be for young children and why it is wonderful to expose children to these content areas sooner rather than later.

101_5555¬†101_5803¬†101_5464¬†101_3093¬†Children are exposed to math and science early in their lives just as they are to art and literacy. ¬†The difference is that most traditional programs ¬†and some progressive, focus too heavily on the arts and literacy and really don’t put as much time into the sciences and math contents. ¬†With STEM, we educators are able to learn and understand more about how important these content areas are for both girls and boys. ¬†The focus narrows down a bit to really hone in on girls and minority groups, which haven’t done as well with these areas of study in the past.

101_5868¬†When the sciences, technology, engineering, and math are not integrated into early learning environments and curriculum, the children miss out on vital key ingredients to their learning and future interests and abilities. ¬†Waiting till children are well into middle school and high school is too late for most children. ¬†Science is a curiosity from the start, so why ignore it? ¬†Just like with art and literacy, young minds crave knowledge and it just so happens most of the sciences are very sensory and tactile oriented. ¬†The world children are the most curious about is filled with unending science! ¬†So making sure STEM is covered in the early years is also key to children developing strong foundations for future interests and learning. ¬†When a child’s foundation for all learning is built¬†strong in the early years, the later years are so much more rewarding because the children don’t have to struggle as much with these traditionally more male dominated areas.

101_5671 Young girls and minority groups should have equal opportunities to learn science, technology, engineering, and math.  These opportunities should appeal to them as much as it does to the dominant male gender in these fields.  That means as educators and parents it is our job to encourage all children to explore, question and construct. Children are naturally young scientists and that usually is stunted when they enter schools that focus heavily on the other core content areas.  If we are addressing the needs of the whole child and every child, then it is vital that we do not stifle the natural scientist in each child.  We need to nurture those ideas and constructions so as the children grow and learn more they will be far more competent in the STEM areas and be able to compete  and work with other nations as adults.

101_5754 Check out your local Early Learning Department and any related sources for more information on STEM.  Classes are also available to take so you can be up to date and ready to implement these age-old content areas but in a new and better way. 

101_5650 I was a child that really struggled with math through my formal school years.  I really had to work hard later in my life due to not having a strong science and math foundation from my early years.  So other young children do not suffer the same fate, it is extremely important that we change our way of looking at the STEM content areas.  Our futures rely on the sciences and math areas, so why not create curriculum, that invites, inspires and allows children to utilize their creative art and literacy skills in conjunction with the areas of STEM?  The more positive and creative ways we can introduce different subject matter to young minds the more fascinated they will become.  The more fascinated they are, the more they will question, work together, discover and construct.  

101_6102Please share how you have implemented STEM into your early learning schools.  And how has STEM changed parental, perspective on these core content areas?

101_6155¬†Thank you for stopping by¬†The Marigold School of Early Learning! ūüôā

 

 

 

#4: Parent Involvement in a Reggio Inspired Preschool

101_6009¬†¬†101_6102¬†Hi! ¬†I’m back with number four in my mini series! ¬†Please join the discussions, like and share these blog posts so others can have opportunities to join and share their experiences too! ūüôā

Today I would like to open discussions around parent involvement in Reggio Emilia inspired preschools. ¬†A Reggio inspired school is just that, an early learning environment with aspects of the Reggio Emilia Approach integrated into multiple areas of the early learning experience. ¬†Parent involvement has always been encouraged and sometimes expected or a requirement for early learning schools and co-ops. ¬†However, the ways in which parents have been invited, encouraged and required to participate in their child’s school varies from place to place. ¬†It also depends on the philosophies the early learning schools follow as to how a parent can contribute.

101_3413Coming from both progressive and traditional educational environments I have been fortunate enough to witness and experience many different ways in which parents have helped in the classroom through the years. The ways in which parents have participated in the schools and classrooms I’ve taught in have ranged from being responsible for one center or activity table to having parents sign up to be a classroom helper and jump in wherever assistance was needed. ¬†One of the things I’ve always stressed it that parents should only engage in activities in which they feel comfortable. ¬†The reason for this is so the experience is enjoyable and rewarding for both the parent and their child. ¬†I prefer that parents be able to choose the areas of interest they wish to help out with and I love inviting them to share a special talent they have, such as music, plants, art etc. ¬†

101_4544 In Regio inspired early learning classrooms parent involvement can grow over time.  As the parent participates more and more in different aspects of the learning day, he/ she becomes more confident in their abilities to not only support but to impart knowledge and learn from the children around them.  In this way, the parent not only continues to influence the children in positive ways, but they too are learning new things from being around a diverse group of children.  The more comfortable parents become participating and assisting the more confident they become in how their children are learning too.

101_6131Sometimes it can be difficult to step back and allow your child to be themselves in a different environment. ¬†Parents are used to seeing how their children are with them, yet sometimes they can be a bit surprised at their child’s new found confidence and behaviors while at preschool. ¬†Please don’t be alarmed, your child is simply expressing their new found independence and engaging¬†in several new social/ emotional opportunities. ¬†And each child is being influenced by another child and the whole group, so they are in essence trying on many different hats as they continue to grow into who they will be someday.

101_0676¬†Taking into account the Regio aspect, parents may have opportunities to take up documentation and transfer this skill to their homes. ¬†Valuing what your child learns in preschool is great, but learning never stops for children, so if you like learning different ways to document your child’s learning then being able to volunteer in a Regio inspired preschool is a double plus for you, the parents! ūüôā

101_3064I also love the fact that with a Regio Emilia inspired classroom there can be different culminating events after children have worked hard on their own creations throughout the school year. ¬†Taking the time to schedule family events highlighting the wonderful and rich work your children construct is a great way for your child to show you what he/ she has accomplished. ¬†It is also a great way to meet other parents, plan¬†play-dates, and yes talk to the teacher about pairing up with other parents to contribute either a special skill or talent to the school for the children. ¬†Working together and becoming a close-knit community happens when we respect the children and value what they are doing each day they play at school! ¬†Each time parents help out they are communicating how much they treasure and respect their child’s abilities. ¬†Parents also get a wonderful insight as to how their children interact with others and the types of personalities he/ she is drawn to while making friends.

101_2799¬†Of course, in any early learning environment, parents should be invited to come and join the class. ¬†Your talent is one that all of the children can learn from and appreciate. ¬†And don’t worry if you don’t have a “special talent” to share, just being there to assist, observe and document the learning journey your child has taken is important and meaningful.

101_6167Share what you’ve been able to do in your child’s class! ¬†Share with us the talent you demonstrated and what the outcomes were from your experiences! ūüôā

101_6155¬†Thank you for stopping by¬†The Marigold School of Early Learning! ¬†ūüôā

 

#3 Individual & Mixed Age Benefits

101_6102¬†Hi! ūüôā

Today I would like to open discussions around individual, mixed-age and small class size benefits. ¬†Anyone out there running their own in-home or small preschool, please feel free to join the conversation! ¬†Any parents out there who would like to discuss what their experiences are raising and home-schooling their young preschool aged children, please feel free to join as well! ¬†Share, like and pass this post along to keep the conversation going! ūüôā

101_6098If any of you follow current research as I do, then we all are aware of the fact that small class sizes benefit children the most.  I love having a small preschool because my class sizes will remain small through the years.  The benefits of having fewer students means, each child will get individual attention when they need it and the children will also get to know one another better.  More learning can happen if the environment is designed for fewer children as well.  

101_3770¬†I would like to discuss a little about the benefits of one on one attention during the early years. ¬†Many parents out there staying home and raising either one or two young children are encouraged to join the discussion, because I’m sure you have found many positives having time to give one on one attention. ¬†For me, I had one student last year and I really valued the opportunity because it is not often that a teacher has only one student. unless tutoring. ¬†What one on one attention meant to me as a teacher was that I could truly tailor the curriculum to this student’s needs. ¬†I got to know my student much quicker and I was able to catch on to any current interests this student was thinking of. ¬†For children who do not have much experience prior to preschool interacting with other children, a one on one can be ideal for the child as well as the parents. ¬†A small, quiet learning environment was far less intimidating than a large and noisy one. ¬†And my student benefited in all learning areas as the curriculum emerged with not only the student’s interests but as the student grew through the school year.

101_6167As much as I value the time I spent teaching only one child, I designed my preschool for eight young and eager to learn children. ¬†Mixed-ages is my favorite way to teach because children learn so much more from each other. ¬†When children have multiple opportunities to interact with both younger and older students, the benefits have no limits. ¬†I’ve taught mixed-age preschool before and really loved how younger students glommed onto older ones and learned how to write and read quicker, became more confident in outdoor activities and generally were more alert, interested and eager to learn! ¬†I’m not saying that children in the same age classes aren’t similar in their desire to learn, it’s just a bit different. ¬†And until you experience it yourself, you’ll just have to trust me. ¬†Mixed-age classes really are the best way to go!

101_2947¬†Small class sizes have a number of positive benefits for young children, and one I’d like to focus on is the time it takes to cultivate first friendships. ¬†First friendships happen in preschool, especially if the children have had no other opportunities to build prior friendships. ¬†Preschool gives children the time they need to make friends and the time they have to cultivate these friendships increases with smaller class sizes. Just think of the zillion interruptions that happen in large classes when children are right at pivotal points of discovery. ¬†Interruptions still happen quite a lot in small learning environments too, yet the children have more opportunities to go back to what they were focussed on and to continue the process of learning they embarked upon with fewer interruptions in total.


101_6111 When children are enrolled in smaller early learning schools they are able to form deeper friendships during these early years and these friendships can last a life time.  And even if the friendships dissipate through the years due to other factors, the children still have more time engaging in life experiences they need in order to function in larger groups as they grow older and enter  elementary , middle, highschool and beyond.  Any time young children are encouraged to interact with others and are placed in supportive learning environments he/ she will be better prepared for our very social world as they grow older.  And older children benefit greatly with helping younger classmates learn.  Older children become mentors and take on being role models for the younger children.  These positive benefits have no limits as well!

101_5979¬†I’d like to return to the topic of individual attention for a moment. ¬†One thing that really stands out for me as a teacher is that having one student last year really pushed me to grow as a teacher once again. ¬†My role took on the form of not only teacher, mentor, support, but as a peer. ¬†I took the time to really reflect on my behavior around my student because I did not want to over influence her with my adult perceptions. ¬†I wanted her to learn and I wanted to learn from her. ¬†She had a special skill that I really admired. ¬†My student came from a family that used American Sign Language, so she was able to teach me some words even though she was a hearing person. ¬†Her comfort level with signing was natural because she had been communicating in this way her whole life. ¬†I also saw how proud she was to have this knowledge and be able to teach me, her teacher. ¬†

101_6012¬†The most ideal situations are ones in which children interact with a group of peers. However, sometimes our youngest members of society need some firm first steps prior to their introduction to larger group settings. ¬†And that is perfectly fine! ¬†My student from last year needed time to adjust to this new thing called,¬†school. ¬†She needed time to feel free to explore, question, construct and gain new knowledge without being intimidated or stifled. ¬†If you too have experienced having only one student for a time, you may be able to relate. ¬†Once children experience this firm first step, they are able to move onto larger groups with much more confidence and are very successful. ¬†There is nothing wrong in being sensitive to your child’s needs and recognizing the importance of taking your time figuring out what best works for your child. ¬†Just because friends or family put their children into large groups doesn’t necessarily mean that your child should follow the exact same path. ¬†And it doesn’t mean anything is wrong developmentally or cognitively with your child. ¬†It just means that you value and respect¬†your child as an individual and you know what works best for him/ her. ¬†Preschool is the first school experience your child will most likely experience, so keeping in tune with what type of environment they need as their first step is just as important as any other aspect of learning.

101_6114¬†A good reminder to all of us is that throughout our lifetime we all will be either learning or working in both large and small environments. ¬†The size of the groups we interact with constantly change. ¬†So don’t worry if your child starts out in super small class sizes. They will experience larger groups throughout their lives as you and I have. ¬†The most important thing to remember and keep close is that social/ emotional development happens the moment young children start interacting with their small universe. ¬†You, their family, friends, strangers, are all a part of how each child develops and preschool is a vital part of this important growing and learning journey. ¬†Stand up for your child and value who they are. ¬†You’ll know where their first steps should be when you are in tune with their needs as only a parent can be.

Please feel free to leave comments and add your experiences! ūüôā

Walk, bike or ride to¬†The Marigold School of Early Learning! ūüôā101_5650

101_6155

101_6011

 

 

New Series: #1 The Early Learning Profession

101_5409

Hello, everyone! ūüôā

I am starting a new series of blog posts centered around early education as a profession. ¬†This is a very broad topic and at times personal one, so I will only be discussing certain points that have affected my experiences in teaching. ¬†Please join the conversation if you have experiences you would like to share too! ¬†Please like and share this posting so others may join in our discussions! ūüôā And as always, please remember this is a positive place only, so travel elsewhere if you have negative thoughts.

I love the field of Early Childhood Education! ¬†However, there are many issues with the profession itself. ¬†First off I want to point out how important early education is for young children. ¬†This is a current hot top across our country right now. ¬†And across the world early learning is a vital and very relevant topic of concern. ¬†Think about how and why you value early education and what is it’s importance in your life?

Early education, unfortunately, has not been appreciated as much as research says we all should value its importance to young minds and the long term positive effects it can have. Too many early learning teachers are not actually teachers, they are childcare professionals put into the position of being a teacher due to how early education has evolved. ¬†Many programs go by their state requirements and most early educators are not required to earn higher than an ECE degree. ¬†I’m not putting down any form of career preparation people work hard for, yet I do not believe that type of degree alone qualifies most people to be early education teachers. ¬†Professional development is in place to help early learning professionals continue to gain skills to better qualify them for working in young classrooms, yet the type of education still isn’t where I would like it to be, but they are headed in the right direction. ¬†

Too much pressure has been placed on early education professionals to be teachers and so many preschools adopted boxed curriculums that could easily be implemented by those who are not actual qualified and trained teachers.  This makes sense because most preschools want the children coming to them to learn, but they had to make sure the staff could implement a program they could understand and have assistance with through each step.  This is not a bad thing at all.  If you go into a profession that does not require you to actually enter programs that would prepare you to be a teacher, then why would you need to?   After all going to college costs money and the more education you want, the more money you spend.  The profession of early childhood education has not advocated for higher education when they needed to, so the educational requirements stayed lower and as a result, people entered the field without actual teacher training.  The industry itself did not require higher education from the start, yet now they want everyone to have more education and are trying to dissect the early education programs in existence in order to say which ones actually are the most beneficial to young children and which ones are not.  Of course, as anyone would guess, the more qualified you are to teach, the better your program is for the children and the long-term benefits are greater.

I’m not bashing any early childhood preschool teacher or childcare professional. ¬†I respect all who work in this field! ¬†This is a wonderful career to choose, yet the profession itself has not respected the mainly female population of workers. ¬†And they have not respected the children, the very heart of why we exist. ¬†I advocate for more education for anyone working in the field of early childhood education. ¬†The more knowledge you gain about child development, educational theories, classroom management, program policies etc. the more capable you are to teach our youngest population. ¬†And those children will greatly benefit from having actual early learning teachers, supporting their efforts to learn.

It starts with people in the field taking the first steps to respect themselves and recognize the teacher inside them wants to come out and taking those extra courses to improve their knowledge. ¬†No one stands in our way of learning except for us. ¬†And we are the ones that bring respect to our profession. ¬†We cannot always sit back and let others dictate whether our profession is valued. ¬†We know early education is very important. ¬†I really believe that all people working in the field of early childhood education should respect themselves and view themselves as being just as important as elementary, middle and high school teachers. ¬†We are the first formal educational influence, we teach young minds from the start and we should open the institution’s eyes to just how important we are. ¬†Living on poverty wages and not having higher educational degrees like our counterparts is just wrong. ¬†Teaching young children is a respectable and important profession so why don’t we push to improve our quality of life. ¬†Other professions that have much less of an impact on our future make far more for a living than we do. ¬†Is that fair? ¬†No, it is not.

I don’t regret earning my associates, my bachelor’s and my master’s and more. ¬†To be a teacher¬†has always been my life goal. ¬†And I knew when I entered college after graduating from high school that teaching is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. ¬†I also knew that I understood nothing about being a teacher when I entered college. ¬†I babysat for years, and gained a lot of experience working with children, but I had endless questions and I knew I could not enter any educational environment without being fully trained and prepared. ¬†I am so happy I did¬†because my learning journey has only gotten richer and I value the hard work I’ve put into my higher education. ¬†I often times think that those who have chosen not to take this similar path are really missing out on ways to teach and understand their young students. And the lack of higher education poorly effects their experiences as teachers and the children’s learning experiences too.

When we work for institutions that do not value us as professionals and look at us similar to “servant” status, we burn out quickly. ¬†We start to devalue ourselves. ¬†Our ability to be positive role models for our students dissipates and what is left is anger, bitterness, hopelessness and eventual burnout. ¬†I have witnessed many childcare professionals go through this. While earning my degrees there were just a couple places I worked for that caused me immense stress. ¬†Those two places did not value childcare professionals and the difficulties I was facing were not experienced by just myself, but the entire staff. ¬†Turn-over was horrible and one week I would be working with people I thought I’d get to know and the next week they were gone. ¬†When the institutions we work for do not recognize their staff as professionals, how are we supposed to value ourselves as professionals too? ¬†Well, we are the first ones to see ourselves as professionals, so we have to pull ourselves up with our own strength and keep moving forward.

Obviously, I did not stay at those two places for long before I was lucky enough to work for healthy and happy early learning environments. ¬†I kept going because my internal drive to be a teacher never wavered. The positive experiences I’ve had through the years have kept me going. ¬†

Unfortunately, in recent years I did work part time for a childcare and it was almost exactly the same kinds of conditions I saw when I first graduated from high school.  It was really sad because there was so much potential for a great place yet the people chose to be ignorant about how early learning has grown and changed through the years.  And how early learning is a respectable profession with people that do care about children.  Instead, I found myself exhausted, stressed, not supported and the lack of knowledge from less educated staff and management made my time there not as happy as I would have liked it to be.

As a master-level teacher, I can honestly say that when early learning professionals are not trained to actually be teachers many classroom management and behavioral issues become problems that never have to be problems. ¬†One of the first things I observed was the lack of understanding¬†there was about child development, children’s emerging feelings, how to support children of different backgrounds, etc. ¬†The childcare professionals at the time did not understand early education curriculum and the walls were plastered with coloring sheets, and pre-cut art projects. ¬†Nothing original, creative or remotely appropriate for young children was being implemented by the staff. ¬†I know this all sounds really negative, however, most of the staff there were good people, they just did not have the desire or educational background to support this being their profession. ¬†The term “glorified babysitter” comes to mind¬†because that is exactly what they were doing. ¬†That may sound harsh, yet from my perspective, it went against everything I was ever taught or have learned through the years. ¬†It bothered me that parents were paying for what they thought was a preschool education. ¬†They actually thought their children were being prepared for kindergarten. ¬†A worksheet does not mean a young child is being prepared for kindergarten. ¬†If it looks like the teacher made it, then you can be sure your child did not make that piece of art on the wall. ūüė¶

Early childhood as a profession is immensely important. ¬†Young children start learning as soon as they enter this world. ¬†The family is the first source of learning for the child, then any play-dates, artistic expression, and movement classes, sports and yes, preschool. ¬†Preschool is the next and in some cases most influential for children’s future learning careers. ¬†Childcare is also in the mix¬†because many children are at childcare facilities all day. ¬†Those environments are also crucial to how your child will succeed or fail during their school career. ¬†Children are important so why not make sure that if you run your own childcare center or preschool, that you do the best you can at learning all about child development and early education. ¬†Please do not cling to the old traditional programs of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. ¬†Grab onto current research and implement curriculum and create environments that are truly developmentally appropriate and soothing to the children you care for or teach. ¬†By respecting yourself and your profession you respect children too. ¬†Take hold of sources and tried and true methods, but remember that research is always uncovering more and more about the brain and how children learn. ¬†

Take the time to create aesthetically pleasing and stimulating environments for children to engage in. ¬†You will see a difference in not only how you feel about the profession you’ve chosen, but the children will show you how much they enjoy the respect your giving their environment and them. They in turn, will respect themselves, you and their learning environment more.

Please share some of the experiences you have had in either childcare or preschool environments. ¬†Did you work in developmentally appropriate workplaces or were they more traditional? ¬†Please share, like and join the conversation! ¬†ūüôā¬†

101_6013The Marigold School of Early Learning! ūüôā

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Development and the Whole Child in a Reggio Emilia Inspired School

100_9377  101_5812 101_5985

Hello again,

If you would like to continue the discussion from earlier today than stick around! ūüôā

Emotional development is often paired together with social development, yet just as social can stand alone somewhat, so can emotional. ¬†Emotional development is just what it reads as; the process by which human beings acquire an understanding of the wide range of emotions within. ¬†As young children grow and gain life experience they live through an array of emotions. ¬†These emotions each child experiences are all a part of being human and a part of being seen as a “whole child”. ¬†However, young children are new to life and do not yet possess an¬†understanding of the wide array of emotions they experience. ¬†They need adult guidance and support to help them understand the feelings they go through. ¬†And they need peers and older children to assist them in this life journey of developing an¬†understanding of the emotions they have and will gain. ¬†Emotional development is not an individualistic process, it develops¬†as we interact with others. ¬†So that is where the social does somewhat stick to emotional.

101_5675¬† 101_5542¬†We can support children as they develop emotions and learn the meaning behind how they feel at different times. ¬†In a preschool setting, we can value this development by including provocations, reading material and opportunities for discussions¬†all centered around how a child is feeling that day and moment. ¬†I like to really listen to, watch facial expressions and body language to really gauge how a child is feeling and to know whether to ask or comment in order for the child to express themselves. ¬†Sometimes they really don’t know how to tell you, so they may need a creative outlet that will support the time they need to process what I am asking. ¬†I’ve often mentioned the supreme importance of play dough and how it is an anxiety calming outlet. ¬†Play dough is a form of sensory exploration that often times gives children the time they need to orient themselves to the classroom and other students. ¬†It is also a way for children to calm down, process incoming information and divulge what is happening in their lives. ¬†Here is where feelings often pour out!

101_5650¬†101_2920¬†100_9032¬†When children feel safe and know that you care about them, they will let you know what is happening in their lives that are causing them to be happy, sad, mad or frustrated. ¬†This is the time to be a good listener, yet give them the¬†vocabulary to help them understand and describe for themselves how they are feeling. ¬†We are scaffolding emotional development when we take the important time to listen and respect a child’s feelings. Here are some questions I’ve often asked, “Can you tell me what happened?”, “How are you feeling today?”, “Do you know that what you are feeling is frustration?”. ¬†I often use stories and role model to help teach the concept of emotions. ¬†Dramatic play is a wonderful support to emotional development and using dolls and puppets can support this learning process. ¬†With peers children can move on from the sensory experience of play dough, which allowed them to open up, to actually engaging in a dramatization of the social situation which is causing them to either feel happy, sad, mad or frustrated. ¬†Always remember young children can not consistently answer you as to why or what they are feeling. ¬†So as caring and understanding adults we must be patient and give them the words they need to help them communicate their feelings, so they feel supported in that moment they most need it.

101_5961 101_5767 101_5869 101_5665 100_8504

As we move from emotional development I want to talk more about viewing children through the idea of “the whole child”. ¬†When I refer to this term I am talking about all aspects of what I do in my preschool and have done in my past teaching experiences. ¬†When I look at a child, I am deciding how to create a¬†curriculum that supports every aspect of their cognitive, creative, physical and natural development. ¬†So I’ve planned my school to be a space that changes with the groups that come and go. ¬†I also allow the curriculum to emerge with each child’s interests and support their construction of knowledge and understanding by providing a varied curriculum that covers all content areas.

My school has interest areas that overlap with the areas of development needed to support the whole child. ¬†When we go outdoors, again content areas can overlap to support learning. ¬†Children are often labeled loosely, as being obsessive compulsive, because of how rapidly the first five years of growth and development and assimilation of knowledge happens. ¬†So when children start playing in one area¬†only for a long period of time, say a few weeks or a month, it is my job to draw them out of the small bubble they’ve contained themselves in by adding some different materials to stimulate new thinking. ¬†By taking their current obsession or interest to a different art medium I can draw them away from ¬†what they’ve been doing and maybe help them bridge that interest and transfer the information they’ve gained. We must remember that a child’s obsession with certain materials also means that child is gaining new information. ¬†The longer they interact with certain materials the more information they are constructing. ¬†So we don’t want to hinder their learning process just because we may be sick of them building the same house. ¬†We want to support their learning by adding new things to stimulate more thinking to stretch their minds. ¬†We draw them away from that area they’ve been in for a long time so they can transfer their newly gained knowledge to different areas and continue opening their minds.

Supporting the development of the whole child through an emergent curriculum really does communicate that we care about each child’s interests and capacity to learn. ¬†If we only focus on skills and the idea of tests and measurement and comparing and competitiveness, we are allowing the development of the whole child to whither away. ¬†We are restricting learning and preventing children from stretching their minds as far as they wish. ¬†The Reggio Emilia approach to education really has supported my understanding of the whole child and has enabled me to value young children’s abilities and capacity for learning. ¬†I respect the developmental stages children go through and I support their development into a “whole child”. ¬†Do you? ūüôā

101_3491 101_3192 101_3363 101_3937 101_2883

Share, like and join the conversation! ¬†I would love to hear from you all! ūüôā

Thank you for stopping by¬†The Marigold School of Early Laerning! ūüôā

 

Documenting & Honoring The Child & Social/ Emotional Development

101_5985101_5803   101_5876

Welcome back! ūüôā

Today we will continue discussing ways to document children’s learning while adding how to honor the whole child and their social/emotional development. ¬†So if you are an early learning teacher or parent, please join this conversation with me! ¬†You may private message if you do not with to share with all. And¬†of course,¬†if you are neither a teacher or parent you are more than welcome to join our conversation! ūüôā

When I think about how I’ve been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach all these years, I think about the multiple ways of documenting learning and how that process enables me to continue to honor each child as a whole person and value their social/ emotional development. ¬†I mentioned in my previous blog post about the two ways in which I document the most, yet there are several ways and each really reflects the community in which you teach or the school your children are enrolled in. ¬†And of course, the country and region you live in will have different interpretations on ways to document that work best. ¬†Always remember ¬†there are no right, or wrong ways to document. ¬†The purpose of documenting a child’s learning journey¬†is to not only see the growth and changes each child is going through as they learn, but it is a way for both teachers and parents to stretch children’s minds. ¬†Documenting allows us to look back and reflect on all the steps taken while the child was on his/ her learning journey during the early years of development.

101_3943 101_2081 100_8693 101_0805 101_0343 101_4124 100_8419

So as I mentioned before, I type, take pictures and write for my main ways to document. ¬†However, I love portfolios and in the past have experimented quite a lot with several different types from small to large. ¬†I learned a lot about what worked best and what just ¬†fizzled. ¬†Above I posted some pictures as examples of the types of play/ work a child will engage in on his/ her learning journey. ¬†All of these interests are ways in which children interact with their environment as a third teacher, and all are great experiences to document. ¬†For example, the first time a child tries to use the tools in the classroom can be a stressful experience, where some frustration spills out due to the awkward¬†feel of how to twist the screw into the hole just right to make it tight or loose. ¬†After the child continues to manipulate the tools and gain more experience using them the child’s skills will improve to the point which they can add more things and construct a variety of projects due to their gained knowledge and ability. ¬† Awkwardness to confidence can be documented through pictures, scribing their words and feelings as they practice using tools. ¬†These documentations can be put in a portfolio and the child has access to that portfolio and can go back and look at it to see his/ her growth and transformation.

Another way to document that I often have really enjoyed and have not been able to do for ¬†a while¬†is a mural of artwork the child has created throughout the school year. ¬†The mural can be large as they usually are, or you can miniaturize it by taking pictures and asking ¬†the child to put it into a picture frame. ¬†Along with this more visual documentation comes the child’s words about his/ her growth through the year in regards to their artistic abilities. The child’s words tell us a lot about what he/ she understands and show’s how understanding has emerged and changed over time. ¬†The words are just as important as the stages of work and the final pieces produced.

101_5876  101_2704  101_5812

Now on to social/ emotional development. ¬†This is often a topic that is not well respected in many traditional programs, unfortunately. ¬†A child’s emotions are paid lip service, but not actually taken into account when teachers are teaching their large groups of students and pushing developmentally inappropriate curriculum. ¬†In the early learning sector of education, there are more and more programs that are progressive and more in tune with the importance and life-long impact of social/ emotional development.

We must remember that children are people just starting out in life.  They do not possess the life experiences older children, teenagers, young adults and older people have.  The human journey of development is not short for most, it is long and as we all mature we gain a better understanding of our emotional intelligence.  Young children are just becoming familiar with how to label the feelings each have within so they are not fully able to communicate how or why they feel the way they do.  Often they look to us adults to explain and help them understand how they are feeling and why.  Now happiness is a feeling that is most easy to understand, yet even young children cannot always express why they are happy.  So it is really important to allow early learning curriculum to emerge with children as they develop and come to understand their emotions.  Documenting this process is more about scribing their words and discussions and not so much about taking pictures.

Emotions are also calmed and ignited when we allow children to use tactile/ kinesthetic materials to either promote creativity or calm their nerves.  We could go on about the positive ways in which sensory materials are excellent for helping children as they gain emotional intelligence, but that would take too long.  So I will leave this portion alone for the rest of this blog post.  We will return to emotional intelligence and development another time.

101_5650 101_1290 101_3770

Social development is often linked with emotional development, yet it can stand somewhat alone.  Children naturally begin their social journey once they are born and become a part of your family.  As they grow and mature the circle of people they interact with grows with them.  Sometimes, children are born into an environment where they are introduced to larger social groups sooner and some are born into smaller social groups and it may take more time for the opportunities to interact with other people to come about.  Social development is vital to human growth and success.  Children need to be around not only children their age but children older and adults.  The more time a child spends interacting with people  through family time, parties, play groups, sports, artistic expression classes, childcare and preschool, the more those vital interpersonal and extrapersonal skills will development.

As adults, we can document the social development of children by not only scribing their words and conversations, but we can take pictures of the group work they engage in whether that be an art, construction or dramatic play project, or sport and dance type class. ¬†We can document by really listening and observing how children’s first approaches to interacting with others unfolded and support each step through this developmental process. ¬†If we adults are not paying attention and not validating the child’s beginning and emerging experiences socializing with others, we are not valuing the whole child. ¬†So by making sure we put young children and their social development as a priority we can eventually support the development of the whole child. ¬†Of course in terms of the whole child we have to look at all aspects of how a child grows during these precious early years and beyond. ¬†(I will revisit the whole child aspect along with emotional development in another blog post.)

101_6013¬†101_5663¬†Please like and share this posting! ¬†Also, please share your experiences with children and documentation and social/emotional development. ¬†I would love to learn from you too! ūüôā

Thank you for stopping by¬†The Marigold School of Early Learning! ūüôā