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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Play-based road safety activities and a song for preschoolers

The transition to 'big school' is such an important time for our preschoolers! There will be so many changes in their daily routine and we need to prepare them for some of these.

Many children will catch the school bus and cross the road without mum and dad for the first time- and so road safety becomes an urgent issue.  Here are some activities to help prepare your transition group (or your own child at home) for keeping safe around traffic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The preschooler who hits- what do you say?

First, let me assure you that the answer to this question is NOT 'we don't hit our friends.'  That response to preschool fisticuffs makes me crazy!

I need you to come on a short mental road trip with me. This is the only way you'll see this one through the child's eyes. Ready? Put down your preconceptions, fasten your seat belt and off we go.

You're driving along the road minding your own business and thinking happily about the day in front of you.  Suddenly a car in the next lane veers towards you, almost causing a crash.

As you veer sideways yourself, the happy mood totally shattered, you direct a rude gesture and several swear words at the other driver.  'Bloody ******* idiot! Get a brain! Learn to drive, you *******!'

At this point your passenger- let's say it's your mother- leans over, pats your arm and says 'Darling, we don't swear at our friends.'


Preschoolers whose first response to a problem is violence encounter similar scenarios to this every single day in their childcare settings.  Something happens that wrecks their mood or causes inner conflict, they respond from the gut on the spur of the moment, and the teacher comes out with rote psychobabble as though it's a solution.

There is something deeply wrong with that response, 'we don't hit our friends'.  It worries me so much, and so often, that I feel a need to challenge it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Extending children's play, and the joy of red herrings

I did my Diploma in Children's Services as a mature age student, after over 25 years of teaching and interacting with children of all ages.  The day I was inspected at my workplace, my supervisor commented on the effortless way that I extended the children's play.

'That's experience,' she said, smiling knowingly. 'You can't teach that.'

Well, maybe that's true- or maybe it's not. What can I share with mums, dads and carers about extending play?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What we can learn from children

Children fascinate me. I learn from them every day. And I think my favourite thing of all about them is that they usually haven't had their instincts taught out of them- yet. 

Adults, on the other hand- well, we're ever so good at hiding our feelings till everyone around us is confused (and so are we), eating and sleeping based on the clock or social expectations, limiting ourselves through fear of failure, measuring ourselves with the yardsticks of strangers.  And so on. We could learn so much from children, if we allowed ourselves.

Take 'Jamelle', for example, a 3-year-old indigenous girl with a spirit as wild and free as a little wallaby (and I know a fair bit about wallabies, having brought up an orphaned one last year!). To the average observer, she might seem a little behind in her sense of 'belonging' to her classroom; she rarely does as she's told and her emotions have a fuse about as long as my little fingernail. But she has a lot to teach us if we're prepared to shut up, watch and listen.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stencils are not the Devil Incarnate: dogma and the EYLF

I used to be married to a man who couldn't spell. (What does that have to do with stencils and the EYLF? Plenty. Listen to me.)

It wasn't his fault.  And it wasn't because he was stupid.  In fact, he was a very intelligent man- a specialist physician- but he had fallen victim to educational fashion. 

So how did this happen? Surely there was a problem in his education!

Does your little one walk on their toes?

Thought I'd pop in a link to Roberta's physio site again, as I've often seen young children walking around on their toes all day and most parents are unaware that it can be a problem. Have a look:

toe walking

Monday, June 6, 2011

Notes for Early Childhood Educators: Australian Aboriginal inclusion

I went to a wonderful workshop today run by Bev Grant Lipscombe.  It was full of wise advice on how to understand and teach indigenous children.  I'm just going to pop my notes up here in case any of you would like to read them.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The teachers who changed my life

It was National Teacher Appreciation Day a month ago.  Stop laughing, you Australians.

No, my friends in the US, we don't have anything like that over here, and it's time we did.  So here's my offering to Great Teachers I Have Known.

What we want for our children- and is the EYLF the answer?

I came across an absolutely brilliant list of 10 things another blogger wants for today's children, here:

10 things I want for today's kids

It reflects so much of what I believe about childhood.  And I feel a need to say more about a few of Grass Stain Guru's points, some of which I've addressed in my own posts in the past and some of which tap into my reservations about Australia's new national curriculum, the EYLF.