Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nature's Gift To Early Childhood

It's Saturday morning, my eyes are searching over the grassy, green field that sweeps our back field. I am thrown back by the beauty of nature and all that it has to offer. As we are deep into spring and headed for the dog days of summer, what are you doing in your classroom to promote such beauty and grace?

The early childhood classroom is much like the grassy field that envelops my eyes this morning. Or at least it should be. It should be open for possibilities, free to express sound, room for seeds to be sown and learning to be draped over each and every child just as the Laurel Oaks are canopied with new life.

Early childhood is the start of something beautiful. It's fresh and new, it's pliable, it's moldable, it's the chance to shape a world. However, in most cases it is not any of these things.

Take for instance, the habit of television in an early childhood classroom, the strict schedule of routines that really aren't child-initiated, but more teacher-directed for their purpose, the closed opportunities such as color this pre-drawn tree green because all trees are green, or the one-child-at-a-time table session. Oh this one is my favorite. You know, the one where each child has a tree ditto in front of them and they are told to not touch it, do not touch the paint, do not touch anything while the teacher holds the paint brush for each of them and paints inside the lines of the tree. After a long while, she proceeds to the next child and so on. Oh my goodness, I know I would have been the child to get up running from the classroom as soon as the door opened yelling, "Save me before my adult life is crushed by the closed opportunities that wait before me!".

Why is it that we can't get passed the controlled nature of teaching? Why is it that teachers can't let-it-go? Why are they so stuffy?

Many times it is out of shear laziness. Now I am being honest, it's my down-fall most days. I can't help with that problem, but sometimes it is out of a lack of knowledge. Many teachers in the early childhood field are given a quick set of trainings required by their state then thrown overboard into the classroom without a life preserver. Man overboard! That I can help with.

I want you to imagine a world with no limits, no boundaries, no one telling us NO. The joy of living each and everyday open to possibilities, the feeling of I'm safe, the urgency of learning, the excitement of a story. This should be your early childhood classroom. Each day a child should know that they will walk through your door and learn something new, feel safe and comforted, have anticipation to hear the story you're going to read, and know that if they are told "no" it's because of their safety and not because they can't paint today.

As the winds blows through the field and the sun peaks through with a new day, allow yourself to blow with the flow and take a peak at the something new a child will learn from you each and everyday. It's easy, so go ahead and release!

Until next time...go teach the children!

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