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Archive for March, 2013

Balance

Today’s blog, posted by Mr. Schwaam on Google+ talks about balance and being “full”, full of stresses, priorities, and deadlines. (LINK)

Being “full”: My grandson, 22 months of age, frequently gets full, especially when he is tired. I know the signs, or most of them anyway, and I watch for them. The quivering lower lip, the tossing of game pieces, the aimless wandering, and the low tolerance outburst of tears are all signs that he has had enough.

The little guy likes to use a computer app to practice tracing letters. He used to just swipe his finger around the page and hope that he got something right. Now he slowly follows the symbols that guide him through the process – but oh the concentration and effort put into the muscle control. At some point he gets “full” and the frantic scribbling returns and then the game is closed down. It is too much. The same is taking place as he tackles the stacking toy. He concentrates, he tries, he thinks and thinks… he has successes and he has some “try again” moments. And all is well – until he gets “full”. Then he tries to get rid of some fullness by frantically swinging his arms, sending the pieces across the table.

My job is to find that balance between nudging him forward, encouraging him to keep trying, and stepping in to help. Step in too soon and I rob him of an opportunity to learn and to develop resiliency; step in too late and he is full and overflowing which takes away from his feelings of accomplishment and desire to try again.

It is also my job to make sure that I am keeping a balance between “new” and “familiar”. Too many new activities and concepts adds to the fullness. Imagine starting a new job at the same time as moving, learning a new hobby, getting a new pet, and being put on a special diet. I’m feeling “full” just thinking about it. Where is the stability? Where is the time that I go into auto-pilot and do the familiar?

Children need the familiar. They need repetition, not only to better understand and explore a concept but to give them time to recharge their batteries, to keep from getting full.

Balance: balance of the new and old; balance of active and quiet; balance of independent work and group activities; balance of “follow my lead” and “follow your lead”; balance… balance … balance. It’s needed in every area of their lives (and our lives). Finding that balance begins with awareness: awareness of the signs that one is getting full; awareness of personalities; awareness of one’s goals; awareness of routines and more.

Are you balanced? Is your program balanced? Are you aware of the children’s “getting full” signs?

Concentration

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The Introvert

I’m currently reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain and I am inspired as well as relieved.

In our world of extroverts getting the limelight and driving society through their ability to inspire others, we, the introverts, perhaps feel a little less worthy, perhaps wish we could be a little more like “them”. Self-help books galore are out there helping “us” develop the skills to come out of our shells and be successful. ((Sigh))

But Ms Cain paints a different picture – one that not only acknowledges the differences but celebrates the strengths of this character trait and the ways that it contributes to the Greater Good. “We” are as equally important in this world as those outgoing personalities.

So what does this mean in the classroom? Well, first we have to understand the introvert; then we have to respect it; and then we have to plan for it.
* Do we have quiet spaces for working and contemplation?
* Do we encourage thoughtful, reflective thinking outside of the group?
* Do we accept and respect that Johnny wants to sit at the edge of the circle and observe?
* Do we give enough time for contemplation of answers before asking one of those quick-hands-in-the-air?
* Do we balance “group work and assignments” with individual work?
* Do we help children recognize who they are, how they think, and feel comfortable “in their own skin”?

some things to think about!

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The Blending Mind

As I write this, it is 5:30 in the morning and I just watched a few minutes of a presentation on TVO by author and columnist David Brooks. During these few minutes he spoke about Picasso and Steve Jobs (Apple Co-founder) as examples of the blending mind – the ability to mesh two concepts together to create something new.

The blending mind – creative, complex, inventive, and a whole of lot of neurons interconnecting! Just imagine the possibilities of the blending mind, think of the intellect involved in the processes. I am intrigued!!!

As I listed to the speaker and started processing the possibilities, the importance, and the impact of the concept of the blending mind, my brain jumped to envisioning a preschool scene where children bring blocks into the dramatic play area or playdo into the blocks area. Then I see educators putting limits on this play and return the blocks and the playdo to their designated areas. And I see the blended mind blocked, the interconnection of neurons prevented from connecting.

As a mentor and educator it is my job to encourage this blending mind, to role-model, to entice, to support, and to validate blended ideas. I can do this in art activities, with books and songs, during dramatic play experiences, exploration of nature and, well, the list is endless.

How do you encourage the blending mind? What are your stories of children engaging in such activities? I’d like to read your stories.

And now, I have to do an online search for more presentations and resources by Mr. Brooks!

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G+ Community

Professional Development via the internet. One of the many pluses of the internet is the ability to share ideas and learn from each other. This is especially true for Early Childhood Educators and parents/families of young children.

Always on the lookout for new activities to do with young children, always open to new ideas to inspire learning and development, the internet is a great place to find it all. One of my favourite educators out there, Deborah Stewart, has created a early childhood community at Google Plus. Here, at “Teach Preschool” people share ideas, thoughts, and activities. (LINK)

Most of my blogging will now take place there unless I have an idea for a more philosophical topic. Over the past several months I have looked at early childhood education and teaching in general from my perspective. I hope I have inspired thinking about the issues and perhaps even some changes. And I hope that somehow I have contributed to the Greater Good and supported the next seven generations.

Thank-you for joining me on this journey.

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