Our preschool days are back in full swing again.
Since my kiddos are aged 1-5, in a mixed age setting; what makes us feel happy, sad ,mad, hurt, angry, excited, frustrated, and scared are hot topics for us DAILY.
We have said, "Goodbye," to those entering Kindergarten and, "Hello," to new friends. This makes it the PERFECT time to engage the children in a Friends and Feelings study while encouraging social/emotional and environmental choices.
Let the play begin!
Allowing the classroom display to be on their level and always available encourages the children to ask questions. They may not yet know what the letters are, or the colors, or the shapes; but giving them the time and freedom by encouraging them to touch, hold, and interact with each other and the teachers gives them the opportunity to ask, "What is it?"
Conversations like these provide us the open door to teaching and learning. We teach by answering their questions again and again, we learn by listening to their questions, observing when those questions begin to develop into more complex ideas and "follow-up" observations. We can, with that information, determine what they are ready to learn next and what their interests are.
I love a mixed age group. I love watching them make choices of who to engage, the verbal and body language they use with their friends of differing ages as they create an invitation to play, and stepping in to provide them with the skills to help them further their conversation and understanding of their friends.
So What Are We Learning Today?
We began our preschool day with discovering all the new aspects of our Friends and Feelings display wall from Mother Goose Time Preschool.
We are discussing the numbers 1 & 2, the letter and words that start with "F," the circle, and color blue. We went around the room with our "blue brush" tapping on objects that were the color blue. We then got out our "Global Friends" from Poland, France, and Korea as we learned the words they use to say, "Hello!"
These are challenging and we are working on them!!! We then went to our free play time encouraging the children to move to Dramatic Play, Manipulatives, Blocks, Library, and provided our More Math curriculum enhancements books to those that wanted to further discuss and practice writing the numbers 1 & 2 and give representative drawings of the numbers.
We believe choice is essential to the willingness these children have toward learning. We do this by providing several elements of play in all areas of appropriate development for all our age groups. Our block area will have blocks that range in size, texture, and color. We have MANY options so children can choose to work together or independently.
In our Dramatic play, we have puppets and dolls with the differing emotions of happy, sad, excited, mad, and scared that allow our children to extend their conversations to include scenarios of emotion.
"Making choices is part of problem solving. When given choices, children stretch their minds and create new and unique combinations of ideas and materials." - Morrison, 1997 http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=607
With providing a classroom full of options that are always available to each child, we are giving them the option to also display a wide range of feeling in themselves and others as they conflict and converse with each other. We are then able to help them understand their feelings and how they affect themselves and others. Often we ask the question, "Was that helpful or hurtful?" when child is in conflict or kind to another. We allow them to answer. From their answer we can determine their understanding and development.
Why Do Feelings Matter So Much Anyway?
" Studies show that the most important skills to learn in the beginning of the year are social: cooperation, self-control, confidence, independence, curiosity, empathy, and communication." - Why Social Skills Are The Key To Learning;http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/social-emotional-skills/why-social-skills-are-key-to-learning
Why? Because a child is a whole and complete person already. They are not a recording device (though trust me....they will spout out the most accurate description of your potty mouth at the most inopportune moments, wont they??!!). Our aim is to help the child develop skills as the whole person they already are.
What? Play-Dough Again??!!
Shapes, colors, fine and gross motor skills, social/emotional skills building, observations, and new experiences are all happening in this moment of "playing Play-Dough."
As they participate in group play, they have to ask one another to share tools, colors, and shapes. This can sometimes end in sharing and other times in conflict. However, conflict is NOT failure, it is VALUABLE opportunity for learning. In conflict we can practice using alternatives and choices. We will often prompt a child to ask questions like, "May I have that when you are done?" or offer trades. This helps both children to understand that both needs are important....the need to keep and the need to share.
Discovering Feelings, Celebrating Friendships, and Encouraging Choices.....Powered By Play!
We have celebrated a birthday, painted with our fingers, brushes and even noses, and have made FRIENDS.
When we allow the environment to revolve around the needs of the child, education develops optimally....naturally.
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today.
Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com