Friday, January 20, 2017

Why Are We Teaching Children to Hate? Political Reactions Gone Awry

I have strong feelings about the current political situation in the United States and I am grateful to live in a nation where I can express them. There is Freedom of Speech. It needs to be protected even when we don’t like what we hear.  We all have the right to speak and we all have the right to march, peacefully protest and join with others who are like minded.  I think it is wonderful for children to see adults standing up for what they believe to be right and good.  That is, however, very different from having our children see us hate and sanctioning their use of hate language.
                          
Young children under the age of 5 are saying, “I hate Trump” and “Obama is stupid.”  I have heard elementary school students say, “The people who vote that way are idiots.”

These young people are repeating what they hear. I have seen people on both sides of the political spectrum post mean, name calling insults about each other on social media.

There is a terrifying lack of decency and respect for our fellow citizens that is seeping down to our children.  There is a big difference between “I hate Trump” and “I disagree with Trump.” You cannot compare “They are morons” with the sentence “I don’t agree them” or even “I don’t understand them.”  The casual way that children are using words like hate and morons and idiots is as disturbing as the hatred itself.  

If we have any hope that the future will be more peaceful and accepting, then we must stop teaching children that labeling, judgments and hatred is acceptable.  Isn’t labeling, judgment and hatred what so many people are worried about in this new administration?  Isn’t it what everyone is complaining about feeling – judged and accused of being less intelligent?

If we have any hope of bringing civil discourse and respectful disagreement back, we must stop teaching children that it is acceptable to stop listening and to simply declare the other side stupid.  Aren’t many adults angry because they feel dismissed and unheard?  Isn’t this great divide that we are experiencing a result of our inability to hear each other?

We don’t have to understand the people who feel differently than we do.  We also don’t have to demean the people who took the other side.  We can simply disagree and act to support our own beliefs.

Children need to learn how to positively affect change, not how to hate.  They should see us partnering with organizations who we believe should be supported.  They should see us peacefully and respectfully exercising our right to express ourselves to our government.  They should see us try to make good from what we consider bad by standing with those we consider to be oppressed. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. who taught us about nonviolent civil disobedience.


Be the first to know when my forthcoming book from WW Norton is being sold – click HERE to join my mailing list.  I promise not to crowd your inbox J

________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual sessions for only $ 15 and staff bundles for groups of people.  Go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details. 

And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

When to Honor a Child’s Declaration of “No!”

“No!” is a favorite word of early learners.  They declare, “No!” as soon as they are able.  They don’t even need to say it with words to communicate it.  Young children will say no with their bodies.  You want to go out and they sit down.  You want to sit and they run.  You take them to run and they sit.  “No” is the most powerful word they know and they use it often.  There are times when it isn’t possible to honor their “No!” but there are times when we absolutely should:

“No!” cannot be honored when:
  • Their health is at risk.  There is a difference between refusing to take necessary medicine and refusing to wear gloves. A child who refuses medicine, immunizations or cleansing of a wound that could be infected, for example, is taking a risk that can cause serious illness.  It was long ago proven that colds and other viruses are not related to the weather.  They are passed from one person to another through the spread of germs.  If a child refuses gloves or even a coat, they can learn the natural consequence – your hands or body will be cold.  Of course sub-zero temperatures can cause frostbite which is a legitimate health risk.  We should be careful to determine if there is a genuine health risk but if not, it’s a live and learn situation. 
  • Their safety is at risk.  A child who refuses to hold your hand in the street or refuses to stay near you in public cannot be indulged.  I was recently at the bank when a mother asked her young son to walk to the counter with her when it was their turn to go to the teller.  The child refused.  The mother walked to the counter.  In the seconds that her back was turned when she spoke to the bank employee, her child climbed behind a display.  The mother turned, didn’t see him and looked panicked.  She yelled his name and he giggled.  Then, she lifted him from behind the display and took him to the counter with her.  In that split second, he could have been injured, kidnapped, etc.  Any refusal that puts safety at risk has to be denied.  You can explain why but you cannot give in.
  • They are not respecting other people.  A refusal that puts the health or safety of another person at risk is not acceptable.  A teacher with ten students who need to cross the street cannot indulge the “No!” that keeps everyone from safety on the sidewalk.  It is important to remember that respecting other people does not include an invasion of their bodies or having to surrender a toy they are using (see the “No!” should be honored when list below).
  • They are not respecting property.  A refusal that will destroy property cannot be permitted. I once was in a classroom when a young child picked up a block and started hitting a chair with it.  The action could have destroyed the chair or the block.  The teacher said, “Please hand the block to me.”  The child refused.  You can give the child choices but she certainly needed to part ways with the block.  I gave her an acceptable choice – you can put the block on the table or hand it to me.  Be clear that destruction of property renders it unable to be used or to be restored to its original form and purpose.  Ripping a book is destruction of property. Mixing the Play Doh is not destruction of property because it can still be used as intended. 

“No!” should be honored when:
  • They are protecting their right to take their turn.  Children have a right to their turn.  They should not be forced to hand things over to another child all the time.  Sharing in the early childhood years is hard.  They cannot use toys together until they are developmentally ready, usually at approximately four years old.  Before they can use items together as a team, they should take turns.  The child who first posseses an item should be allowed to finish or, at least, to have a warning before being asked to pass it along.  Let the children feel like they had their turn and they will be far more willing to wait for another turn.
  • They are protecting their right to not be touched, hugged and kissed.  Children have the right for their bodies to be theirs – sacredly theirs – without being forced to have physical contact that makes them uncomfortable.  I know that some adults get insulted when children don’t want to hug them.  We need to teach those adults that having the right to keep their bodies from unwanted contact is a foundational lesson that will be essential in the teen years and beyond.  For more information (especially if you want to support your case for Great Aunt Sophie to back off), read my article “Strangers in the Family:  Do You Force Affection?”           
  • They are exerting their power over eating and using the toilet.  Young children have absolute control over two things – what they swallow and what they let out of their bodies.  When a children feel out of control, they will control what they can.  The child may refuse to eat or may refuse to use the toilet.  I’ve seen children try to prevent themselves from urinating or having a bowel movement.  Adults need to send the message that we know they can control these actions and we respect that.  We shouldn’t get angry or argue.  Children will not starve themselves and eventually what goes in must come out.  When children see that we are not perturbed by this behavior, they tend to stop it sooner and look for something else to test their power.  Anything else can be within our realm of guidance (note I didn’t use the word control – less is more when it comes to control unless there is danger – see list above.  Guidance is about teaching and that's usually the best plan).
  • They are obviously afraid.  A scared child shouldn’t be ignored or told it is nonsense. Fear is a feeling that protects us from harm.  A child can be taught to use critical thinking skills to determine if there is, in fact, danger.  They need to be taught to think about situations, not that fear is not acceptable or is not an important warning for us.  When a child refuses to do something out of fear, it is a teachable moment. 

Be the first to know when my forthcoming book from WW Norton is being sold – click HERE to join my mailing list.  I promise not to crowd your inbox J

________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual sessions for only $ 15 and staff bundles for groups of people.  Go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details. 

And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Are You Using Your Classroom Center Chart Effectively?

Everything in an early childhood setting should promote the development of skills.  The items in your classroom centers – the blocks, dramatic play props, books, manipulatives – help children to develop literacy, math, science and critical thinking skills.  Skill development should also be the purpose of your Center Choice Chart.  Unfortunately, many teachers use the chart improperly and miss the skills that it should be promoting – decision making and self-confidence.

When a Center Choice Chart is used correctly, the students are using it to make choices.  The measures of quality early childhood education such as the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) emphasize the importance of free choice throughout a student’s day.  The Center Chart is a visual clue as to choice and decision making.  When used properly and with pro-social skill development in mind, it is not a tool for the teacher to make the decisions.

How do children learn to think critically and make good choices if adults are making the choices for them?  They don’t.  Children who are consistently told where to go and what to do are not given the opportunity to learn about making decisions or to gain confidence from their ability to make choices.  They don’t learn that even if your choice doesn’t work out, you can change it and be okay.  Children who are directed all day long only learn to follow directions.  Following directions is an important skill, too, but that shouldn’t be the focus during “free” play time.

The proper use of a Center Choice Chart teaches two basic lessons:
  • Name recognition – Each time the child leaves a center to go to a new one, the child has to find his/her name on the chart and move it.  Many children also learn to recognize their classmate’s names faster by consistent use of the charts.
  • Critical thinking – If a center chart has many names, the students need to learn that this poses a question – Do I want to try to stay here or should I wait until someone is done and it is less crowded? 

The question – Do I want to try to stay here or should I wait until it is less crowded? – needs to be asked consistently by the adults so the children learn the choice BUT the children should make the decision. Say to the children, “It is crowded here.  Do you all want to stay here or does anyone want to do something else until there is more space?”  Let them decide.

If a child wants to play in a crowded center, there is another choice that the teacher and student can make together.  It is best practice to expand popular centers by temporarily moving furniture to make the space bigger or by offering to take some of the items from that center to a different area. For example if the block center is crowded, the teacher should determine if furniture can be moved aside to expand that area or offer to take some of the blocks to an unoccupied area of the room so everyone who wants to build can build.  Everyone who wants to use the blocks should have the opportunity but not in a way that limits learning.  Likewise, children who are already building should be allowed to finish. 

Think about how often we are in a “Where should I put myself?” situation in everyday life.  We walk into a crowded waiting room and must determine where to go.  We are ready to leave a store and have to pick a cashier.  We go to a gathering or a meeting and have to figure out where to go in the room.  We answer the question, “Where should I put myself?” all the time.  In my generation, we learned to make that decision while out playing with friends.  We spent endless hours playing with our friends and neighbors without adult intervention.  That sort of play-until-the-streetlights-come-on socialization development doesn’t happen in our neighborhoods anymore.  We need to replicate in our classrooms the lessons that we learned while we played unsupervised.  We didn’t have adults making decisions for us all day long and children today shouldn’t either.

The Center Choice Signs in your classroom are to teach students to make choices and to learn about the positive or negative consequences of their own choices.  They are not a means for adults to exert control by assigning play areas.  Put the decisions in your students hands and watch how much they learn!

Are you looking for other ways to have more meaningful learning in your classroom?  Sign up for my Dec. 22, 2016 webinar “Improve Your Circle Time:  Make It Time Well Spent” – click on the title for details!  Participate live or sign up to ensure that you get the replay in your email. 

________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual sessions for only $ 15 and staff bundles for groups of people.  Go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details.
 
And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.