Today we had a visitor. Every other year we have an assessor come in that uses an Environmental Rating Scale written exclusively for family child care. Its a book. .. a whole book that rates our environment on things like health and safety and materials. In order to retain our funding we must keep a 5 or higher ( or so they say. )on a scale 1-7. Anytime you just can’t get something right or wonder how something will affect your score you can request a technical assistance visit for help. Technical assistance visits are my favorite. Our advisor ( who also is our assessor ) is amazing and inspiring and loves and believes in family child care. She believes in doing what is best for children. Her favorite phrase is ” what if…” As that rolls off her tongue we are already listening and thinking the situation through . Can we make it happen ? When can we try it ? Will it work with our kiddos ? I have been doing this for so long that I pretty much have a great handle on FCCRS indicators. I know the blankets shouldn’t touch. I know to wash the table with a cleaner , wipe with a paper towel , spray with bleach, wait 2 minutes and wipe with a new paper towel. Those are just two examples of routines or practices. There are MANY more. I request Marcy mainly because she inspires me to do better . She inspires me to try harder and remember that each child deserves my best.
Some examples of things she ” assisted ” me on today that I KNOW but hadn’t even thought of .
Have you ever noticed the children’s cubbies are separated ? We didn’t buy them that way. We added the partitions . Ideally ( Another favorite phrase of assessors. ) the children’s coats shouldn’t touch . WHAT IF.. one child had lice? This one precaution is an easy way to slow or stop the spread. Outside Marcy noticed that when the children got hot they hung their coats on the fence and …. then they were touching. Sometimes it takes another eye …. I KNEW this… but outside the ” box ” of the cubbies it didn’t occur to me.
In the science room ( or quiet room ) we have tools and we have collections. It seems the children tend to not know what to do in that room. They wander . She suggested we set up some provocations . An example would be taking a couple acorns from the basket and a magnifier from the basket of magnifiers and putting them together. As a child walks in the room Ms Dallas ( who is usually in the upstairs playroom ) would say ” I wonder what we would see if we looked at the acorn with the magnifier ?” So , you are provoking them to be curious but narrowing down the path . Does that make sense? We could also group color paddles with flash lights or pumpkins with scales.
We do that to some extent. This week we are taking about clothing . In that room this week there is a huge basket of material and clips. We have encouraged the children to design and put together their own clothing. And they are..
And it is fabulous.
We spent a lot of time talking ” shop.” Can I tell you how good it does my soul when I talk to someone that knows my heart for children and shares the same passions that I do about developmentally appropriate practice ? We talked about why worksheets aren’t best practice for children .We talked about how we need leaders to stand up and say not only are some skills being taught and driven in preschool and kindergarten not appropriate they are harmful. HARMFUL. There are studies that prove this . We are not ok with children riding in a car with smoking adults . Studies have proved it is harmful. We are not OK with children riding without seat belts or car seats . Studies have proven it is HARMFUL. So, why are we OK with people not doing what is right for children in a classroom. it is HARMFUL. It has been watered down as ” I believe ” or ” my philosophy” which is fine and dandy as long as it isnt proven harmful but FOLKS not using developmentally appropriate practice has been proven harmful in studies and there is data to back up the fact that there are long term negative affects from push down academics and not allowing children to maturate and develop skills when they naturally occur.
OPPS—- I guess I am on my soapbox. 🙂
There were other wonderful things that happened today.
A couple of the kids made a block structure that swiveled around. It was actually an amazing structure. Can I tell you what was even more amazing ? About ten minutes before this one of the littles was having a hard time. His friend did not want to play with him and his heart was broken. I said ” well… hmm… Preschool family our friend is hurt. His friend said she does not want to play right now and he thinks no one like him. Would someone like to play with him? ” I had several volunteers and the two of them decided to go to the block center and built this amazing structure and played for over 20 minutes laughing and giggling and planning and being confident. So , what was more impressive the structure or the relationship building and ” people skills” that built that castle? You decide. 🙂
We spent much time outside on the playground. Talking about risk taking and limits and how the children learn. For a good 30 minutes one of the kids ran around with a short board. He would tap it on anything he walked near. Each bang produced a different sound. I COULD tell him to stop afraid that someone might get hurt of I could closely supervise so he could continue to learn but everyone else was safe. I watched. One of our little guys threw all our balls over the fence. I could yell and reprimand and send him to the steps but if I did I wouldn’t have heard him say” but she was popping my bubbles… ” and he didnt like that. ” I understand… you were angry so you wanted to get back at her. The next time you are angry say ” I dont like it when you pop my bubbles.” There is so much that goes on outside. If I spent all day telling them no you cant do that , put that stick down, stop this stop that….. we would miss so many incredible opportunities to learn. I havent always been this style of teacher. Sadly, I have had my years of ” don’t” . Some might call it permissive but I can promise you it is an intentional motivation to allow opportunity for learning social skills and exploring to learn . Saying no would mean not allowing our friends to play unconventionally . Gabriel decided to sit on the bike upside down and turn the pedals with his hands instead of his feet. What all could he learn from doing this ? First and most obviously he will learn that possibly his arms are not as strong as his legs. He has to use bilateral motor coordination. This will help Gabriel gain upper body strength so when he goes to kindergarten and sit for hours at a table his torso will be better able to adapts. Gabriel had no idea all of this was taking place. He just knew he like the wind in his face. 🙂
Then this happened .
Me -What would you like to do with the buttons ?
Child- We could play checkers.
Me – How will we do that ? We dont have a checkers board?
Child – Its ok we can pretend.
We decided to sort the buttons. He took the large white ones and I took the small white buttons. He put a ” checker ” on the ” board” and I put one on. He put another one and JUMPED my button / checker and took one off the board. We did this for a bit without any expectations or rules. The wonderful thing is after a while I was needed somewhere else and a little girl sat down and took my place playing ” checkers ” also without rules or a board.
I like to think it will be a child like this that is allowed to play checkers without a board or checkers that will find a cure for cancer one day.
I think Ill stop for the day and get lunch. Yes, you heard right. I have been so engaged that I totally forgot about eating all day. Love. My Job. Love . The People Who Inspire me. LOve your kiddos.