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Monday, 25 July 2016

An ordinary moment unpacked

The following photos with a short write-up were sent to me for a Facebook post today but I was immediately struck by a couple of things that bear a little closer look.

On the face of this it was a very ordinary moment.  

Moments like these are replicated across the SRCC many many times a day. 

Let's unpack it a bit to see what is really going on here:

1.  Jolanta was thinking about the week ahead - knowing it was going to be hot.  She decided making popsicles today meant they could be enjoyed later in the week.  This is a thinking/planning Educator.  She could have made the popsicles in 5 minutes and popped them in the freezer. 

2. However Jolanta has a very high "image of the child" - she sees them as capable so she asked the children if they would like to help her with her task.  They readily agreed as they too could see there would be real benefits from this work.

3.  Jolanta gave them the tools and then allowed them to do the work.  The work of measuring, estimating, careful eye-hand coordination, social sharing of tasks and taking on new vocabulary.  In this moment the children are unknowingly laying the foundation of literacy, math and science concepts.  Their brains are working hard and storing up this new experience for when the things learned from it will be recalled.  They know to pour slowly, to full things up to the top, to share their ideas and the work.

4.  At this point the popsicles could have been popped into the freezer and all would be done.  But, understanding how much learning was going on here, Jolanta asked - "What do we do now?".  The children paused.  They have a notion that these popsicles need to cool and get hard but they don't yet have all the the knowledge they need. Jolanta encouraged them to discuss their theories and make a decision together about where the popsicles should go.

5.  The children made a consensus driven choice to put them in the fridge.  You and I know, given our years of knowledge building, that this is not the correct place for popsicles but in this moment Jolanta just offered the children an opportunity to concretely discover the properties of water and temperature and their effect on one another.

6. When the popsicles don't set the children will revisit their theories and make another choice.  They are smart and they will likely deduce they need to be colder and they will ask them to be moved to the freezer.  There will be no shame in this - it will be a natural part of the process of solving the problem of how popsicles freeze.  And how great will be the learning - their learning, from their actions, and their thinking.  They will not soon forget that in order for a liquid to freeze it needs to be in a freezer. 

7.  After work there is clean up.  Jolanta continues to demonstrate her belief in children's capacity to learn when she offers them an opportunity to clean up the table after their work.  She helps them see that taking care of the place and space you work in is part of doing good, important work.

And so in this brief, morning moment, so much learning has taken place.  It takes a skilled Educator to see the opportunity and facilitate it.  

We call this "learning through play" and we mean it - the children learn so much each and every day as we facilitate their exploration of their interests and thinking.  

THIS is our work.  Thanks to Jolanta and Jennifer for the insight. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

YOU are invited

 Well not YOU exactly ... but your child is invited.....daily.

Each day when Educators arrive and set up the room for your arrival, they thoughtfully set up invitations in the space - either indoors and/or outdoors.

There is a vast difference between opening a storage closet and grabbing some puzzles and putting them on the table versus thoughtfully and purposefully gathering specific materials to set up an invitation for children to engage with.

It's not that puzzles or other toys are "wrong" - it's that the invitation to the children is rote or vague and not necessarily consistent with their current interests or investigations.

A thoughtful invitation is put together by Educators working collaboratively to offer the children an opportunity to either think more deeply about something they have been expressing interest in, to offer them a new perspective on something or to help them experience a different aspect of the topic.  

Invitations are also used to catch children's attention to encourage their use of new materials or areas of the room that they may usually ignore or avoid. 

Children have a great appreciation of aesthetics and they, like us, are drawn to beauty so beautiful invitations to do art or create with loose parts encourage them to discover new skills and make new connections.

We invite YOU to observe the invitations set up in your program and to begin a dialogue with the Educators about their intention behind what they offer to the children.  Your insight and perspective on what your children are interested in and curious about can inform the programming we offer the children.

My thanks to West Cambie Preschool for all these lovely set-ups I sneak in and photograph after they leave for the day....I am often tempted to stay and play! 

Friday, 11 March 2016

In weather news today....

There are a few pet peeves I have about Early Childhood Education.

Anyone I teach in the ECE Program or any of my colleagues could probably write the list of my peeves without much difficulty (turning on listening ears, running feet, squishing baby bumble bees...etc...GRRR)

But today I want to talk about the weather. 

It's been a wild weather week here in BC.

That weather has sparked many discussions with and by the children. 

As it usually does.

Because children live in the world with all their senses and they truly do notice the weather.  

They know when they walk outside what the temperature is and they can usually determine what clothing they might need.

The don't generally reach for their gloves in the middle of a heat wave.

They know if it's raining they will get wet, there will be puddles.  

They know when it's foggy or windy or sunny or hot or snowing and they learn how to manage themselves in the weather.

They notice when the landscape and weather changes to herald a new season, they easily discuss the changes, notice the leaves falling, the spring blossoms, frost.

They will notice the the time change - the change in when the dawn breaks and when the sun sets.

And IF we don't influence them with our own thoughts they make very little judgement about the weather and accept it for what it is.  

And they very often embrace the weather and it's side effects.  

You've seen the magnetism of a puddle right?  
The joy in watching a kite fly up into the sky?
The feeling of a warm rock to rest on?
The wind in your hair?

And all of these experiences happen outside.  

Where the weather actually is.  

Which is why you will not see us using weather charts and wasting circle time asking children what they think the weather is doing day after day...

We just open the door and go outside.