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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Sometimes, when in a room full of young children every day, it becomes easy to start comparing them with each other and focusing on the things some children don’t do as well as others. Or, the children start to appear as a group, as they interact with the environment. Seeing the unique, individuality of children becomes blurred. This is a road we don’t want to go down. Early childhood educators must stay focused on each child’s strengths and make a point to support them.

All children have natural inclinations and innate talents, but no child possesses the same ones They are all one of a kind- actually one of about 7.5 billion! If we refocus on each child’s strengths, we help children to be successful… not only for today but also throughout their lives.

Here are a few ways to change over to a new and improved mindset:

mother and child talking

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Tonight I am writing about Hope. Every Child a Star! Leo The Early Bloomer.

One of my favorite children's books, Leo the Late Bloomer, resonates for us all. Regardless of who we are teaching, there are lessons galore in this special book written by Kraus, illustrated by Aruego in 1971.

Maybe even more relevant today, as we push children to exceed, meet sometimes unreasonable standards and expectations, at least as measured by standardized testing. My opinion, as a believer in DAP, developmentally appropriate instruction. 

Poor Leo. He couldn't do anything right, couldn't read, write, draw, was a sloppy eater and never said a word. His father, in particular watched him for signs of blooming but pretty much gave up. In our class, many of the children have no daddies, only tired working mothers who trust our teachers to provide a seamless sense of family from home to school. Parents are our partners. 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

2e1ax elegantwhite entry pencil sharpener 1

In my second grade class, we had a pencil sharpener attached to the wall. You know, the traditional crank kind of sharpener. The one that seems to command attention when it is used. I didn't think anything of it since I had an electric pencil sharpener and sharpened pencils daily for the next day's work.

Then someone stuck a crayon into my "fancy" sharpener. A piece lodged in it and I couldn't get it to work again. 

So we used the crank pencil sharpener on the wall. I usually tried to keep a stock of sharpened pencils so kids wouldn't need to use it. It was just a distraction, it seemed. But occasionally they did. All was fine until that one fateful day.

I came into the room one day and found the small extension on the crank handle was off. I don't know how it came off. I could not figure out how to get it back on. "Oh, well," I thought. "We'll just do without it." I placed it in my desk, thinking I would ask for maintenance.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Excited child

After hearing of Bev Bos’s passing earlier this year, I spent a couple of days reviewing and reflecting on her writing. A 1995 article called "JOY in Early Childhood Programs" particularly spoke to me, as it has so often in the last 20 years. Bev wrote that, sadly, joy is not often a consideration for people who are talking about and planning programs and experiences for young children. She reminded us that “because learning always involves feelings, we must protect the right of all children to have a hallelujah kind of childhood.” 

I’ll say it again, because the words thrill me to my very soul: WE MUST PROTECT THE RIGHT OF ALL CHILDREN TO HAVE A HALLELUJAH KIND OF CHILDHOOD.

That means we must be active, intentional, self aware and reflective. Protecting children’s rights does not happen accidentally.

That means we do this for the child whose mom drives you crazy, the child who hits and kicks when you are trying to get him to settled down for rest time, the child whose nose is constantly oozing and who slobbers on her chin. All children means ALL children.

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Tagged in: early childhood Joy play
Posted by on in Early Childhood

Two weeks ago, I visited one of my student teachers in a room of young three’s. I noticed one of the activities on a table was tracing their printed names on strips of paper with pencils. During most of my hour there, I also noticed that only two of the thirteen children chose this activity, despite one of the teachers manning the table and repeatedly asking who wanted to join in this “fun activity.”

The two children who did come over showed considerable awkwardness getting control over the unwieldy long pencils in order to trace the letters. I called my student over to join my observation. Here was a great example of trying to skip some crucial steps towards a goal, which usually never works very well. And, when a child struggles with an activity, he will generally tend to avoid it in the future.

The hand and finger muscles of these young children are still pretty weak. Before they can successfully manipulate a pencil (or even a marker), they need some work using their whole hand and pincer grip. It’s kind of like learning to crawl before walking.

So, we still want them to practice making marks on paper, but not with long, skinny objects. What, then? Well, chubby crayons can be the answer here. But not a whole 4” chubby crayon. These should be chubby crayons with their jackets peeled off… broken into three pieces. My student immediate asked, “Why so small?” Good question!

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