teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Posts tagged ‘ownership’

Re-creating the freedom of my youth

Remember when we were kids and there would be random piles of bark, soil and rocks that were on the edges of building sites and we’d run up and over them. The feel of danger and achievement as the ground slipped away and you ascended higher. To reach the top and take a running leap or slide, just to start all over again.

So I recreated that feeling, albeit on a smaller scale, with tyres piled on top of each other, covered in sand, that was dug from a moat around our mountain.

The first child to find it was excited and pointing and yelling ‘Look! Look! A mountain!’

The brave ran and jumped up the mountain, finding their feet as they went,

often travelling so fast it was hard to catch a picture of their movements!

Others had to work harder to climb up, using their whole bodies to stabilise and move,

enjoying the challenge and ownership of the climb.

Before too long, the numbers grew and the children sorted themselves into a semblance of a line. This was their doing, you can see our ringleader at work, organising the masses into order so that everyone gets a turn 🙂

With every challenge there is more than one solution. Watching the children develop their risk taking skills and being part of a large group activity that focused on their abilities was wonderful. I loved that my presence there was just as a pace keeper. Which allowed them time to climb and celebrate before another child jumped in on their play. For the very essence of discovery is in repetition and development of concepts, of practice and persistence and that’s what makes me happy 🙂

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Furry and cute, but not a dog!

Lately the caterpillars have started to come out. As much as they remind me of the ‘itchy bugs’ of my youth, I welcome them now as one of the few interactions we get with animals. I’ve seen children search for them, create homes for them, gentle rotate their hands so the bugs have ‘steps’ to climb. But most of all, there is a lot of watching and discussing going on.

When this one was found it was climbing the wall, we watched as it wiggled its way upwards, marvelling at how it stuck there. Children reminded each other to be careful with it and not to squash it or hurt it, reminding each other of earlier misadventures.

One of the children grabbed a cup and gently scooped it up to be placed on the floor for more viewing.

By now, the poor caterpillar was scared and rolled up in a ball. This gave us opportunity to talk about what would make it feel more comfy, what it needed to survive and how it could stop being scared of us.

A new ‘home’ was quickly found by the kids, with exploration for leaves and food. Once our little caterpillar was moving again, I helped release him into the wild, after all it’s not fair to take a creature from its home.

But to keep a bit of a memory of our ‘pet’ we grabbed some paint pens and created images that represented our ideas and experiences with our furry little friend 🙂

word cues

For the last 5 or so years I’ve been using a really effective strategy for conflict resolution. We’ve used it in all age groups with appropriate levels of success. The basic thought behind it is that each child has the right to play with the toys they are using, as well as the social commitment to sharing. We also wanted to promote clear, independent and non aggressive conflict resolution word cues.

Gone are the days when educators would say “use your words” – which words? what will they do? Now the children who want a turn of the toy ask “can I be next?” (or just “be next?” for the younger children) to which the other child responds with “in two minutes”. Now we all know that kids usually can’t tell time, but they certainly get the idea of mine now and yours later. They now have the power in the relationship, something that ‘sharing’ often takes away as toys are taken from them. Individual children might give the toy over straight away, others need a time reminder “1 more minute till it’s Timmy’s turn on the bike!” while others will need to be guided into activities to wait out the time, so the other child is free to play without feeling the need to protect their possession from a ‘stalker’.

It’s a bit of an intense process at first. Explaining it with puppets at group time, constantly reiterating it during play, but it takes hold. The kids KNOW what to say and they KNOW what’s expected of them. No more “Use your Words” and more time for playing!

Owning your sun safety

One of the biggest differences I found when I moved from Brisbane to Adelaide, was the sun safety rules. Although both schools and childcare support sleeved shirts, and avoiding outdoor play between 11 – 3, the ‘no sun screen’ between April and September really threw me. My children’s schools even have hat free terms! In the cooler months our childcare centre continues to promote hat use, but includes the catch cry of ‘hats or hoodies’ and accepts beanies as hats.  If I was confused, then how were the kids meant to take in the Sun Safety ideals? Well, with practice, I’ve learnt that the kids are much more fluid than I, so it’s me who needed to re-think the situation. They accept that we’ll be chasing them down for their hats. But Lately, it’s been heaps easier!

We took to introducing hats to the babies dress ups, with the hopes that the children would become comfortable with them in play, therefore more willing to wear sun safe hats outside. It made for a great play time, but not effective against sun damage unless the dress ups were outside!

Instead of supplying all the hats and chasing children to wear identical, non-personal items, we’ve asked them to bring their own. For the children who haven’t been able to provide hats, we’ve dug out the old spare hats that have been left by previous children. Now here comes the exciting part. We used a great big nikko and wrote their name on these hats and presented them back to the children as “their” hats. These are theirs to look after, to wear and to return to the special pockets with their names on them. Sure most of them can’t read their names yet, but they get the significance of owning a piece of childcare. This is their hat, they are taking responsibility for it…and most of all for their sun safety!

I’m so impressed with the kids and the choices they’ve made. I’m equally stunned with myself for not recognising that giving a little piece of ownership to the children, would have such an impact! We’ve got word cues to give children ownership of toys and sharing. We’ve got physical cues that allow others to know that we have taken on ownership of *this* space…how did I miss it with the hats?

Thank goodness the kids are there to remind me how they need to be taught!