Early childhood educators tell me a lot of stories when I keynote or train. And since I’ve been speaking and training for almost four decades, you can imagine just how many stories there have been. Lately, though, I keep hearing the same three stories from teachers throughout the country.
Although a bird may seem like an unlikely role model for teachers, the bowerbird, a small native of Australia and New Zealand, has a lot to teach us about early childhood classroom design.
Unless children actually want to read, they’re unlikely to put in that effort. Endless lessons in ‘phonics’ and ‘comprehension’ won’t make them any keener. In fact, the most motivated children are those who learn to read without much explicit teaching, as a result of pleasurable experiences...
Did you ride bicycles around the block and play Hide-and-Seek outside with friends until you were called inside for dinner? These experiences helped us develop our senses and taught us to self-regulate our actions, preparing us ultimately for the more formal education of school.
So often we when we think of learning we think of paper and pencil. Or maybe we think of watching an educational program or listening to an engaging speaker. It’s important as parents and caregivers to know that movement, and especially movement in free play, is a major contributor to brain growth.
Adult-imposed responses to behaviour, whether positive or negative, can take away a child's own feelings of control and stop them learning to think for themselves.
Are their qualities that we, as more experienced learners, display when we engage with little children in their learning?
Children first learn to listen, to speak, to sing, to enjoy rhymes, stories, and books before they can read or write. What we often forget is that this foundation in oral language is a critical step in developing literacy.
What considerations should we make in setting up the art/creative area? The art area should be near a sink and have a washable floor. Display art supplies so children can see all their choices and access materials themselves. This requires specialised shelving so items are orderly yet visible.
After six years of facilitating professional development sessions on the exploration of materials with teachers, I am more convinced than ever that blocks are one of the most essential materials for the early childhood classroom.