Friday, December 17, 2010

Field Trips: Ways to Say Thank You!

What have you done in the past, or what ideas do you have for the future, as special ways to thank field trip hosts or guest visitors?

Field Trips: Allowing Children to EXPLORE a New Place

In the article, Field Trips Promote Child Learning At Its Best, Cartwright describes a trip where the adults brought the children to a place where they could explore freely (the beach). During this trip, the adults sat back and observed without interrupting the children's investigations. Stacey describes a similar experience at a hair salon in the article Coaching Community Hosts: The Other Side of the Field Trip where the children were given a tour, but were also allowed the opportunity to explore.

Please describe one place in your local community where you might be able to allow a group, or an individual child to explore freely. This might be a place that you visit regularly but have never taken the time to allow children to explore their own interests. Describe the place, how it might be interesting to the child(ren), and what you think might be there for them to explore. How can this benefit the children and how might their learning be different than if they were simply given a tour by adults?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who Doesn't Like Pizza?

"Pizza is a canvas for an open mind. It is kid-friendly, fun to make, and enjoyed by all." --Buffy Owens

Think of another activity, either in the kitchen or elsewhere, that children would enjoy doing with adult participation. Make a comment in which you describe what the activity would be, what work would need to be done beforehand, and what materials might be needed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Extending Children's Play

Think of an area of play that is popular with the children' in your care. In what ways could you extend that play to help them explore in more depth?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Teachable Moment and Field Trip Plans

The other day, I was sitting in my office when one of our program teachers and a preschool child came in. "L", the child, had been working in the classroom with some blocks and balls, and had approached the teacher, "Miss W" to say, "I sure wish that we could all go bowling together." Knowing that this idea had field trip potential that fit with the work and interest of many of the children in the classroom, "Miss W" decided on the spot that "L" would be a full part of planning for the trip.

They walked down to our offices first, so that "L" could ask the Director if they had permission to go on this field trip. He then helped "Miss W" fill in the field trip request/planning form, including helping to decide that the trip would be called "Bowling with Friends." By the end of the day, they had called the bowling alley, selected a date, and had started writing a letter home to the parents inviting them to join the class on the trip (with "L" drawing pictures for the letter).

A week later, the children (along with the children in the classroom next door) had a busy but fun time bowling together at a bowling alley that was within walking distance of our school. I could spend time going into detail about the learning that took place during the trip, but my interest lies in the teacher's ability to listen to a child in her classroom and notice an opportunity to honor that child's ideas. She was able to fully involve him in the planning and completion of the field trip, and tie it in to other interests and learning going on within the program.

It may be a field trip, but it may be the planning of another big or longer term activity that you were able to support by listening to a child that you spend the day with. If you have a story to share, I would love to hear it (and share it with others who read this blog). If you don't, see if an opportunity may arise over the next week and feel free to come back here to share!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

State Policies for Relative, Friend, Neighbor Providers

Over the past several weeks, I have been working with Michigan's Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) to review state practices and policies regarding initial and ongoing training requirements for relative care and day care aide (friend and neighbor) providers who care for children that qualify for state subsidy payments. We have been looking at requirements for orientation training, infant/toddler specific training, first aid/CPR training, and ongoing training. At the same time, we hope to identify any states that have tiered reimbursement systems in place for these providers that complete extra but non required training. The final report and recommendations to the Department of Human Services will be presented in early to mid November. If you are familiar with these or similar practices in your state, PLEASE consider posting a comment with the information and/or any contact information for further information. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Answering the Hard Questions

Have you ever experienced an awkward moment when a child asks you one of those difficult questions that you aren't prepared to answer? As a constructivist by philosophy, my gut reaction is to respond with a matching question such as "what do you think?" or at least with a reflection acknowledging that I have heard the child's interest in the topic. While at a very basic level, this response buys me time to think about what might be appropriate information for a child of any given particular age, the child's response also gives me a clue into what kind of knowledge they are really seeking so that I can begin to help them search for the answers that are most meaningful to them. Here are some examples of such situations... A six year old girl asks you, "How do babies get out of their mother's stomach?" You are on a field trip to the grocery store. Three year old Peter spots an older man with an amputated leg. He says loudly and excitedly, "Hey, what happened to his other leg?" (This situation is something that my father-in-law experiences on a regular basis, so I know what kind of response he would appreciate as the "older man") Gail, who is 11, tells you about her grandmother, who has cancer. "Can you catch that from someone?" she asks quietly. Three year old Kern asks, "Are black people black all over? Are they black inside too?" For those who are just entering professions as early childhood educators and caregivers, we might hope that these kinds of questions will never be asked, but it won't be long before the blinders fall off! Please use the "comments" section to share a time when a child asked YOU a difficult question that you were not prepared for. Now that you've had time to think about the question and possible responses, how do you wish you had responded? Share your thoughts!