Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mathematical language

            I have found that so many teachers are afraid of math and then they pass that on to the students. Even the semantics of math is troublesome; there are only math problems, no math questions. We don’t have Social Studies problems to figure out, we say instead Social Studies questions. I try to say math questions; I think it sets the brain up to figure out the answer in a positive frame of mind.
Math and mathematical language is something that is very important in a preschool, early childhood setting. Whether you are a preschool teacher, teacher’s aid, or a homeschooler parent, everyone in the world of a young child should be using mathematical language.
Mathematical language is saying descriptive words such as tall, short, long, wide, thin, as well as shapes; it is the positional words like, far, near, behind, above, below, left, and right; talking about money; talking about numbers; asking how high, how low, how long; comparing objects such as this tower is taller than that house. All these things are so easy to say and it increases a child’s mathematical literacy by so much. This is something so easy to do and so important to do too. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Path

When I was a student teacher at Mills College I had the exceptional good luck to student teach under the guidance of the Infant Toddler Lead Teacher Bethica. She was amazing, her knowledge and understanding about what the children could learn. I have since lost touch with her but I gained so much from her mentoring.
One of the things that I gained from her was the idea about how the young brain works, an image really. Everyone knows that we have neurons and synapses, and stuff like that going on in our brain. We also know that when a certain pattern of behaviors or actions happen it begins to create a neuro-path way. For example when a baby cries, she gets picked up and comforted. Repeatedly doing this helps her learn that when she needs something she can cry and comfort will soon follow.
One day at the Mills Children’s School, we were discussing brain development. Bethica explained that it was as if a child’s brain were a large grassy field. As we develop, learn, and experience life, it creates paths across the grassy field. The more the a path is used the deeper it becomes (the more ingrained). When we want to change a behavior we need to make a new path and attempt to avoid the old path.
I always thought this was an excellent visualization of how Neural pathways develop. So thank you Bethica for being such a brilliant teacher of young children!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Solution Kit

A solution kit is a little box containing ideas for stopping conflict, a box, container, or small suitcase that is filled with peaceful conflict resolution ideas. Typical solutions I have put into my solution kit are “take a break,” “take a deep breath,” “tell my story,” and “find a way to have turns.” I have found some already made ones but I think it is useful to have a discussion with the kids and create your own.
I introduce the solution kit from the previous year a week or so after I have introduced the class rules. We go through the solutions, usually after some conflicts have arisen in the classroom, but not while in conflict. Children grasp the idea of the solutions better when they are all calm and relaxed. We talk about a few and how they work, and we role-play or practice doing them together. I might introduce a few each day until we have all of them explained. I also talk about creating new ones if we want to, because these children are so bright they can come up with great solutions too.
As an intentional teacher I plan for when I see a conflict situation arise so we can practice using the Solution kit. The more you help the children use it at the beginning of the year, the sooner the children will be independent in using the solution kit, or creating their own solutions that work. After the first several weeks of school most of my students are independently using the solutions kit, or the skills learned from it. This allows me to focus on helping the children who need a little extra support.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Philosophy of Teaching

I am creating a business plan for my business (obviously!!) and wanted to include my teaching philosophy... So because I love when I can maximize my work I decided that I would share it here.
My philosophy of teaching is an ongoing, ever changing development. As I learn more and educate myself I change my views, my teaching methods, and my curriculum to always be teaching with the best practices for teaching young children.
I know children learn best in an organized, active, and interesting environment. I teach through the environment, by labeling where things go, and keeping things in their place. I create a place where children are allowed to touch, and handle what they are learning about. I create a classroom with child-sized furniture, organized in a thoughtful manner to allow the children to move their bodies and be safe. I provide high quality building blocks, art materials, books, and science materials, so that children can learn by doing. I teach both inside and outside; playing outside is an important part of the whole curriculum. Everything we can learn inside can also be learned outside.
I know that a positive learning environment includes the emotional and social feeling too. I work to create an environment where each child is listened to, where they know they can tell their story, and participate in creating our cooperative learning. I mentor children to create classroom rules that keep us safe and promote personal responsibility. I promote cooperation, collaboration, and peaceful conflict resolutions. I make sure that I, and any adults or older children in the classroom, model this behavior as well.
I know that children learn best through play and co-create with the children the curriculum, always including developmentally appropriate reading, writing, and mathematical activities. I know that children can learn through large group, small group, and individual learning activities; so I provide the time and space for each of these modes of learning. I create spaces for children to practice skills that they are learning, as well as support each child to reach for their highest ability.
I spend time explaining to parents the value of allowing free play, as well as the physical and emotional development of their child, so that they can relax and enjoy their children’s childhood. I support parents in knowing that their children will learn to do all the skills necessary when they are truly ready. I know that parents are the most important part of the child’s education and need to learn to be their child’s best and strongest advocate. Parents are the first and most significant teacher.
I believe that being a teacher is one of the most important careers in our society. To teach young children is a challenging and fulfilling career for me. I am a teacher in all that I do; when I am shopping, looking at magazines, or even in the doctors office I find inspiring and interesting things to bring back to the classroom. My teachers mind is always looking for ways to teach. I am a teacher through and through. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kinderoo Preschool

I have decided to open an in-home preschool. I have thought long and hard about this, the pros and cons, the cost, the problems and solutions, and have finally decided that what is best for me and my family at this time is to open my own in-home preschool.

There are not many jobs opening in the elementary school realm, and I wont get paid enough to work for a preschool. The other benefits are that I will be able to do things the way I want to do them. Use best practices, open ended art, and do all the amazing things I have learned.

I do worry about the isolation and not having collaborators, however I have solved this by joining REAEYC (Redwood Empire Association for the Education of Young Children) and I am looking for a childcare consortium in my area.

I am supper excited about finding the perfect home, and arranging in a way that is both homey and educational. I daydream about the arrangements, and what centers I will have. I want to have an art area, block area, sensory area, quiet reading/library, science and math areas, word wall and math word wall, and of course all of this outside too.

It will also give me a way to gather information and pictures for my book 101 small group ideas. Can give me inspiration for stuff to make to sell or give away on Teachers pay Teachers, as well as lots of stories for this blog.  

I just read my TYC magazine and at the end there is a small article about a teacher who has her preschool in her home too. She states, (vol 6 No 4; pg 32) "I hear a lot of buzz about  large preschool centers, but I think that a small home preschool can be just as high quality." I totally agree with her and also want to prove this to the world. 

So if your in Ukiah Ca. and you want an Exeptional Education for your 3 to 5 year old, look for Kinderoo coming this fall.