Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Word “Friend” – Is It Overused In Preschool?



I have been thinking about how we use the word “friend” in our preschool classrooms and with our children.  Like many adults who remember the word “friend” before Facebook, I often bemoan the ever-changing definition of that word.  Today, a “friend” can be someone you don’t see or speak with in person or on a telephone.  It can be someone you’ve never met but, for some reason, wants to connect with you on social media.  We have even taken the noun “friend” and made it a verb.  We can “friend” and “unfriend” people.  The more I consider it, the more I conclude that the re-defining of this word did not start on the internet.  I think it actually starts when we try to teach socialization to preschoolers.  I believe that the word is overused.

I recently attended a workshop about children’s rights.  Children have the right to feel safe both physically and emotionally.  We try to create spaces for them that are loving and all inclusive.  We tell them that everyone in their class is their friend.  Is that true?  Is it a realistic expectation that all of the children in our classrooms or even in our personal lives will be friends?  Surely, some of them are just not compatible.  They actually have a right to not be compatible.  My child doesn’t have to like every other child.  He doesn’t have to consider everyone his friend.

We need a change of verbiage.  When our children don’t get along with other children, perhaps we need to say, “We are all kind in this classroom” rather than “We are all friends.”  We should teach them that being kind means accepting that we are not all the same.  There are some people who we want to spend more time with and we can be kind to the others, too.  This lesson can extend to everyone they encounter.  We are kind to the children in the classroom next door.  We are kind to children we meet on the playground.  We are kind to people in stores and restaurants.  We don’t have to be their friend and choose to have a personal relationship but we do have to be kind.  Children can learn that being kind means being nice, gentle and helpful.  Having a friend means having a personal and mutually appreciated relationship.  They are different.

We can’t do much about the changes in our language due to our rapidly changing world of increased internet connection.  We can, however, help children to have a better understanding of the definition of the word friend and a view of the world that allows them to pick friends while being a good and tolerant person.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © 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.

 edu_listed_dir

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Obituary: Literacy Skills, Age 5,000+ Years



Literacy Skills, born in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago, has died a slow and painful death.  After an active and full life that brought us the Bible, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Jane Austen and others, Literacy Skills has died at the hands of those who didn’t understand that having computers doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have knowledge.  For generations, students took spelling tests and were taught to write with proper usage of grammar.  They held books in their hands and grew up knowing how to turn pages.  Unknowingly, they increased connections in the brain and honed fine motor skills by being able to write both in print and cursive.  In a slow and painful process, it was determined that computers could do the thinking for us.  The importance of having knowledge for the sake of knowing and growing took a back seat to obtaining federal funding through test taking.  The final blow occurred on Inauguration Day 2013 when a TV reporter on a major news network said, “Yous guys end” when referring to a location in a parade.
Literacy Skills is survived by Keyboard Skills, Touch Screen and Standardized Testing & her son Teach To-Test.
___________________________________________________________________________________

Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © 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.

 edu_listed_dir


Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Is Right About The Children?





As a public speaker, school director and parent, I spend a great deal of time talking about children with other adults.  I find that the majority of these discussions are in the negative.  They often center on the theme of what the children are doing “wrong.”  Parents ask for advice about behavioral challenges.  Teachers and school directors express concern and look for answers to their dilemmas about unacceptable social interactions and developmental levels of their students.  Think about your discussions about your own children or those you might teach. Are more of your conversations in the negative than about the positive?

I challenge us all to turn our conversations around.   Children are more capable than we often give them credit for being.   They have a variety of talents.  They need to learn from their mistakes and will continue to do so for their entire lives.  Adults have strengths and weaknesses and so does every child.  A child who interrupts with thoughts that cannot wait is anxious to share and communicate.  When I was a student, I was often reprimanded by teachers for talking.  When I see an adult comment that their child or student doesn’t stop talking, I say, “Neither did I and today I am paid for public speaking.   It can serve the child well someday.”  When adults comment that a child is pushy or bossy, I often say, “That child has leadership skills.  Help to direct those skills for good and to help her peers.”   A child who tests boundaries is testing the level of his/her independence.  It is the boundary testers who grow up to be the ones who challenge societal notions and the limits of our intelligence.  We often hear our world’s best minds and biggest innovators talk about how they were not the best students and had a hard time with rules.

Every conversation about children should include not only what we need to correct but what was intrinsically good.  And so here is my challenge for parents and educators.  Every day, share what is right about the children.   Children say and create the most amazing things.  Let’s talk about that.  When your spouse comes home, start your conversation with something positive about your children.  When your school director or principal walks into your classroom, share a funny anecdote or show an insightful piece of work.  Continually ask yourself, “What is Right About the Children?”
___________________________________________________________________________________


Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      

Copyright 2013 © 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.

 edu_listed_dir


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shopping for a Preschool




Shopping for a preschool for your child is serious business.    The experience your children will have in their preschool years will define the word “school” for them.  Every parent wants their young child to know that “school” is a positive experience.  Early learners should spend their first school experience in a place that sets a foundation for self-confidence, positive social interaction and a love of learning.

It is essential that you spend time touring preschools before selecting the place that you feel will give your child the best experience in his/her first school.  The plethora of choices, philosophies and methodology can be mind-boggling and intimidating.  When going from one early childhood center to another, remember to include these questions in your comparison shopping list:

Does the artwork look like children made it themselves?  Perfectly cut shapes glued perfectly onto pieces of paper is a symptom of a school that is more interested in parent perceptions than in helping children to become critical thinkers and confident decision makers.  Art should never be about right and wrong.   There is no wrong answer to a child’s interpretation of their world.  The minute children are handed a pre-cut form and guided in where to glue it or how to paint it, two things happen – the children stop thinking because the adults are doing the thinking for them and they are in a situation where they can be wrong instead of being encouraged to make decisions.  Children follow directions all day long.  There is no reason for art to be anything but a reflection of their creativity, a way for us to see their developmental level and a window into how they view the world.

Are the teachers really educators?  Education is a skill set.  Not everyone with knowledge or a love of children can teach.  When we go to college to become a teacher, we learn educational theory, child psychology and methodology that we use to engage children in positive learning experiences.  We learn what is developmentally appropriate for different ages.  We learn how to manage behavior in a positive and instructive way.  Unfortunately, the word “teacher” has been used rather loosely in some preschools.  We can call anyone “teacher” but without coursework in education, educational theory and behavior management, the word “teacher” is being misused.

Do the teachers and teacher assistants continue to learn?  Ask the person giving the tour if the teachers and teacher assistants take continuing education courses and from whom.  Most states require a certain number of continuing education hours so staff members can keep up with the latest theories , learn new methodology and exchange ideas.   Unfortunately, there are often no regulations stating from whom they must learn.   Ideally, staff members spend their continuing education hours in workshops exchanging thoughts with other educators and learning from qualified instructors.

Are the toys hidden from the children?  Children learn through play and should have free access to all of the toys and learning tools in the classroom.  Teachers should not be limiting access to toys.  If you go to a classroom and toy cabinets are closed, it is indicative of an environment that is more restrictive.   Classrooms should be a mess while children explore, build and create.  Opportunities to learn and interact should not be limited by adult needs.  The mess can be cleaned up.   Lost opportunities, however, cannot be regained. 

How long is circle time?  If you are observing a classroom during circle time, watch the clock and the children.  If you aren’t there during circle time, ask.  Circle time should be no longer than 10 minutes or until the children are done.   Any sort of group time after 10 minutes or after the children start squirming is indicative of an environment that is more teacher centered than child centered.  Children have limited attention spans.  Adults can talk and talk and talk but if no one is listening, what’s the point?  Let the children go where they really learn – among the art materials, toys and in nature.

Is the preschool making academic promises?  Children develop at different rates.  Some children will be beginning to read and write well at 4 years old while others are not yet ready.  Mastery of reading and writing skills is not an appropriate developmental goal in the preschool years.  Children should be offered opportunities to write and explore literacy & pre-math skills just as they are offered opportunities to explore spatial relationships with building blocks and symbolism & role play in the dramatic play area.  If your young child can read and/or write, that’s wonderful.  Your child is ahead of the bell curve in that set of skills.  Mastery of those skills by all enrolled children is another matter entirely.  No one can promise you that your child will be reading or writing successfully by the age of 5.  If they do make such promises, then far too much time will be spent with your child at a desk in front of a workbook or a computer trying to get a product.  It will happen.   Your child will learn literacy skills.  It may or may not happen in the preschool years and that is normal.  The preschool should be telling you the truth - your child will be given the opportunity in the Pre-K year to write and combine letter sounds but everyone masters those skills only when they are ready.

What is the discipline policy?  Behavior is best managed when discipline is instructive and not punitive.  Your child’s teachers are there to teach.  That applies not only to cognitive skills but also to behavior.  Listen for yelling and ask about time out.  Neither of those are instructive – they are punitive and do not help to teach behavior.  Children should not feel intimidated or isolated as a result of inappropriate behavior.   They should be spoken to about their behavior and why it is not appropriate, given time to calm with help from an adult and re-directed.  For more information about positive discipline, please click on this link:  http://cindyterebush.blogspot.com/2012/08/teach-dont-punish-benefits-of-positive.html

Remember, when shopping for a preschool, you are shopping for the best environment for your child.  That may or may not be the same for you and for your friends.  Be sure that you feel comfortable and that you trust the adults who will influence your child’s view of learning and of school.
___________________________________________________________________________________


Read this blog for more articles, learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals (www.cindyterebush.blogspot.com)  
                                                      

Copyright 2013 © 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.

 edu_listed_dir