Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Creating an Academic Framework

As I have become accustomed to the culture here at Tumbleweed,
I have focused on supporting children to grow and develop in their
own unique ways. With a range of ages and abilities in the class, we use activities that involve all children while giving the option for further exploration into academics for those who wish. In this way, we respect each child in their place and let them decide when they are ready for more structure.

I completely believe in this approach to education. Each child should feel they are perfect, right where they are and feel supported in that place.

However it is hard to see how this will translate to a conventional education system. Especially one built on assessment and meeting age requirements every year. My goal is to find a connection between how we encourage children to enjoy learning while still providing the tools and education that each child needs. More and more expectations and societal pressures pile up as a child turns a new age, but I see the greater function of school as inspiring children to become creative, autonomous, and self-reliant.

All of this has led me to the conclusion that we need a mission statement for our approach to learning:

The mission of Tumbleweed Preschool House is to support the development of children by teaching self-worth, the right to be respected, and the value of community. As we prepare self-reliance in each child, we also inspire the desire to take part in community change. 

This path we have taken involves giving children the tools to solve most interactions themselves, providing an
environment that serves as a teacher and giving space for peer-to-peer education to flourish.

The most challenging of these teaching practices is creating problem solvers. In the classroom, we take time to explain what has happened and allow for the child to process their emotional reactions. We validate how a child feels by pointing out that it is always okay to feel. In this way they will require less adult oversight because they have made their own guidelines for a response to an action.

As adults we must model skills but also avoid being emotionally responsive when a child has an issue. By having distance and neutrality with each preschool child we allow ownership of feelings which do not connect an adult’s emotional response to a child's emotional upheaval. In other words, they are safe to let go with us. They know we will still support them while they feel and that we will help them process it all when they are ready.

The way academics then weaves into our scaffolding here at Tumbleweeds is by balancing the environment and peer-inspired growth while also providing teacher-lead material that is directed from students. This means we use a model that does not have the whole class learning themes so as to exclude some while uplifting others.

We feel academics are a form of  self-care.  When we allow each child time to understand and find meaning in a new action, they are able to value themselves and the work they do. In this way, we build intrinsic motivation in how children approach learning rather than extrinsic. 

1 comment:

  1. My goal is to find a connection between how we encourage children to enjoy learning while still providing the tools and education that each child needs.- I really need to comment on this: I wish every teacher on this planet took a few minutes to think of this as well. I understand that it is difficult to do when you have at least 25 pupils in the classroom. But I still believe that it is possible. We have so much to improve, we just need to find right solution. Like, children getting dissertations online. I am sure that we can encourage them to write instead of buying professional dissertations. Everything is possible when you put enough effort.