Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bliss

What's my bliss?

What's my child's bliss?

Do I support both?

Inspired by http://nicolehaxbyma.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Early Childhood Environments and Provocations- a Reggio Inspired Blog

This weekend while perusing the internet, I stumbled upon a blog called Early Childhood Environments and Provocations. I got really excited and then I noticed to the right that there are several links to other websites and blogs, including the Childspace website, which I will explore more deeply in a future blog post! I looked through all of the links and was inspired by several of them. A couple of my favorites are: Art at the Center ("It's not a tube, it's a..."), Leslie Gleim's Classroom (Look at their wind exploration, it's amazing!), Evergreen Community School (Very focused on documentation and collaboration with parents), and The Project Approach (Long term focused, intentional, projects with children).

There is also a link to a shutterfly page that is just documentation from various early childhood educators!

The link to the blog, Early Childhood Environments and Provocations is:
http://pollysunshine.blogspot.com/

I love stumbling upon blogs and various links like this! I hope you enjoy!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring has Sprung!

It seems as if Spring has finally sprung here at Tumbleweed. It's the second week of April and buds are just now starting to form on our trees and shrubs, the maple tree is blooming, and seeds were planted just a few weeks ago. It's a huge relief after the months of grey that our weather has been giving us, and we are excited to see what our yard has to show us this year.
We are also looking forward to the spring spruce-up of the materials outside. After winter, we always find our yard turned into a mud zone, with materials scattered and forgotten. When the sun begins to shine we find our impetus to tidy, organize and create provocations both for and with the children. The new bulbs and veggie seeds are finally showing their green, and we are feeling those tingles of inspiration when we bring the children outside and bring their attention to the changes occurring around them.
There are stumps salvaged from a teacher's parent's home, piles of willow branches, fallen sticks from our maple tree, rocks, and new pathways to think about. We are dreaming of planting more native plants along our new paths and creating smaller focus areas for the children to explore. As the days become warmer we spend longer days outside, and art materials are brought out for natural explorations. We're looking forward to supporting a natural order and tidiness to our materials outside, while allowing for free play explorations and use of found objects in safe ways.
The garden is always an source of excitement for the teachers and children. We work together to plant seeds tying in the ideas of the nutrients helping the seeds become food for us to eat. We keep close track on the changes that the plants experience from seed to bud to plant to flower to fruit to decay. The garden is also a wonderful place to include the children in planning, drawing, writing, and dreaming as we select which seeds to plant, art to enhance, labels for the plants, and other stories that pop up as they observe and have conversations with each other.

Praise Junkies

We all want our children to feel confident and secure.  And for most of us, the yearning for children who feel good about themselves combines with our hope to encourage certain behaviors and then combines with own experiences for a simple result:  we praise.  I remember when newborn Willa struggled to poop and did it, I exclaimed, “Good job, Willa!”  I felt a strong, strong urge to make sure she knew I was pleased with her.
Thankfully Shane noticed, and that gave me the opportunity to reflect.  I had met plenty of children who understood a strong connection between their own actions and adult pleasure (and displeasure).
The first time I met Jill, she cocked her head to the side, smiled coyly, and pushed the collar of her shirt up at me, inviting me to comment.  “I see you are wearing a red shirt today,” I replied.  Jill then asked in a voice worthy of a grape juice commercial, “Do you think it’s pretty?” 
Jack typically only spent a short time at an activity and would often stop, find an adult, and ask of the product of his activity, “Do you like it?”
Sally, parent of Tom, came to me in a state of panic:  “Whenever Tom pees in the potty, we give him a sticker and are excited and happy.  But now he’s peeing on the floor!  We show that we’re angry with this, but it just keeps happening!”
Polly Elam, in a RIE Intensive, referred to this cause-and-effect exploration as “control of the giants.”  Unfortunately, even with our best intentions, we can create patterns that encourage children to explore how they can affect us more than what works best for them.
At one of her workshops, Tracey Johnson (practicalparentingpdx.blogspot.com) talked about supporting each child’s “internal locus of control.” (I just googled that phrase for interesting results!)  In short, most of us hope that in the future, our children will make decisions actively and based on what works best for them (instead of based on external consequences or influences).  Do we want our child to choose not to speed (or do speed) because they might get caught or because it’s dangerous?  Do we want our children to make choices about sex based on what they think our reactions will be or based on the possible natural consequences?
I believe it’s impossible to completely get rid of praise.  Even if we re-pattern our language, a statement as simple as “You did it!” can still send the message “You’re pleasing me!”  But I also believe that it’s possible to help children have a healthy understanding of their affects on adults AND have a healthy method of decision making.
So what does this look like?  I’ve noticed that children (and adults!) like the feeling of being noticed.  So I try to ensure that when there’s occasion (whether it’s the child looking at me with excited eyes about their new discovery or my own need to acknowledge), I take the time to be fully present in that moment.  I stop what I’m doing, make eye contact, and give space and time for the reflection of this experience to feel complete.   And although I might want to say “Good job,” “Cool,” or some other excited exclamation, I
·         Try to make factual observations
·         Try to include reference to that which I want to perpetuate and/or reinforce (such as perseverance, hard-work, careful work, observation skills, etc.)
·         Try to appear pleasantly and moderately impressed (i.e. calm and happy instead of ecstatic or overly pleased)
 “You did it—you put your toes into your shoes, and then you pulled on that tab so that your heel went it…  You worked really hard, and it worked.”
“Your pee is going into the toilet.  I can hear it hitting the water.  That means you get to flush the toilet.”
“I see—it looks like you chose to use the red and the blue paint today.  Oh yes, and here, I see lines, and over there I see arcs.  It looks like you’re working on different ways of moving the brush.”
“You offered to give that to her later, and she said ok.  Sounds like that works well for both of you.”
I find that when I can be consistent with this goal, we all feel good.  And I like that feeling.  So I keep doing it.  It works for me!

 --This article first appeared in our TIH newsletter, and parent Peter Rock then found this interesting article:
http://www.reed.edu/reed_magazine/september2010/features/perils_of_praise/index.html

What are your thoughts, and have you found other supportive articles?

--Amy

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Observing Other Spaces


There are a few blogs that I frequent and Bending Birches is one of my favorites. I love the simplicity towards life that Waldorf brings, and this mama is constantly highlighting her hand work, her goals of becoming a Waldorf teacher and her own insights on parenting.

I was especially excited about her latest post which showed a local Waldorf Nursery, River Valley Waldorf School. I always love seeing new spaces and loved the soft, warm feel of this classroom, as well as all of the little touches that seem very do-able and inspiring for enhancing my environment at school. I loved the bird nest and the curtains that are draped on the play stands. I also got very excited about growing grains in terra cotta trays.

Check out the entire blog post Here.

Enjoy!
Briana