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Archive for the ‘Being with kids’ Category

thinking green

Our week at VBS had me thinking about this photo from a few years  ago.  The kids are learning about taking care of creation, reusing, recycling, renewing.  It has been very fun – although also very exhausting.  I always forget how much energy large groups of kids demand.

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VBS

After working hard to get the garden going, I will be turning my attention toward Vacation Bible School next week.  The really great thing is that our theme is RENEW! and we are learning about planting seeds, recycling, reusing, and caring for creation and community.  So, instead of planting seeds in the garden, I will be helping plants seeds of hope in the children.  Should be a great week!

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I used my key to unlock the door in the classroom building.  It should have been dark and empty at this hour but the lights were on and there were small pieces of tape on the floor.  Each piece of tape showed a name written in a child’s hand.  Outside the classroom door  a large box, filled with rubber tubing and a jar of marbles sat, waiting. 
“Come on dad, we still have just enough time.” 
Will pulled his dad purposefully toward the box.  They sifted through the tubing a pulled out a large piece, grabbed a few marbles, and knelt down on the floor.  Will pulled a wood block over and they were set.  They loaded their marbles into the tubbing and watched as they rolled down the hallway.  “I think we made it!”  Will ran to the last marble and held it in place while his dad brought the tape and marker.  He marked his place, carefully printing the letters of his name on the narrow piece of tape.  He didn’t seem to mind that his marble had not gone as far as the others.  “Woo Hoo!”  he yelled as he gave his dad a high five.  They moved back into the classroom with the other kids and dads.  It was time for a closing circle and then they would head to their cars.  A small slice of  the moon hung over the parking lot.  Another Dad’s night was coming to a close.

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I am doing a lot of thinking about rigor and expectations and respect lately.  I am often told that our program does not seem academic enough, that children can already “do” all the work that we have listed on our program goals (remember this is preschool).  I have been frustrated by this conversation – believing that we have a very good program, great teachers, and yet knowing that when you hear something more than once, it is something that needs attention.  Last week, I went with a few of our Pre-K classes to music and I was surprised at the lack of respect that some of the children gave to the music teacher, to one another, and to me.  Yesterday I had a group of these same children in the office to talk about their behavior, to try to problem solve with them.  But after 15 minutes of random chatter, using all of my tools for guiding conversation with young children, I pretty much gave up.  These are very bright children.  They have a lot of facts, know how to write their names, count, are on their way to understanding words and sounds.  But they are so inwardly focused that they could not listen to one another.  Each had their own thing to say and could barely wait to get out their words.  They talked over one another and their comments were random and disconnected.  I went back to the room with them and watched as these same children spoke out during circle time (10 minutes to review the work they had done and a couple of activity games).  I actually counted the number of times for each child and two of them did this 12 and 15 times – in just 10 minutes!  So how do we help families understand the academic need for impulse control?  For following directions?  For listening and responding to what you have heard?  Have we lowered our expectations for this behavior?  Time to do some collaborating around this topic and some grown up problem solving.

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This morning I was up early, finishing the prayer scarf for my friend.  I hope to give it to her before Thanksgiving.  Then I read this post by Ruth and all day I have been thinking about chasing dreams.  I have a dream to write about teaching young children, about planning an environment and curriculum that will support learning in a way that is honoring of their development.  Lately I have been pondering the idea of putting together a curriculum plan that would be integrated, emergent, differentiated.  So, as I begin my next prayer scarf, I am wondering what first steps I will take to follow that dream.

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waiting 1I have been meeting with parents this month.  I wanted to check in and see how things are going, to make a space for questions to be asked and ideas to be shared.  To listen.  One concern that has come up in every group is the lack of information that children share with parents at the end of their school day.  This is not new.  I try to write about it at the start of each school year in my monthly newsletter.  There is so much that is new, so much going on each day, and young children haven’t learned to compartmentalize those details that parents want to hear.  One mom commented that the more questions she asked, the more resistent her child became to talking.  Another said her child was making things up, things that she had checked out with the teacher and found that they didn’t really happen.  It was a good conversation because I didn’t really need to give an answer.  I could see the lights going on around the table, that knowing look when parent realize their child is not “the only one” who does or does not do something.  Parents who have older children shared some helpful hints.  And of course I could share my own experience of my daughter’s comment one day after kindergarten when I was grilling her for details about her day.  She didn’t even look up as she said, “Mommy, I will tell you some stuff later.  Now I am busy.”  Well that got my attention!  But I listened, I backed off a bit, and in her time, the details would come.  I also got better at asking questions 🙂

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