Ignite Minds Learning Journey - April 2017

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My learning journey over the last few months and insights and highlights along the way.

Carol Liknaitzky - Educational Leader

Having visited most of the educators a number of times, I have been so interested in and warmly encouraged by the varieties of environments that each person has created, according to their way and the given spaces. I have also seen some delightful innovations that I wish to share with you too. I will give you a brief picture of these and then share some of the important and common issues that have arisen in my conversations with you all. In all my educational work these are also such common areas of challenge. I will give some input on these issues and invite your ideas and input as part of the learning community of Ignite Minds.

 

Megan with the magical garage and enclosed garden, accessible lounge and kitchen.

Letishia, with her bush kinder in an urban setting - gumboots, muddy river, outdoor kitchen, veggies and acrobatic swings and climbing structures.

Loretta, a cosy, peaceful place for very young children and bunnies

Rosemary, a homely, lovingly filled home with softness for the very young

NO photos

Maria, bright, clear and intelligently filled with quality and child-friendly resources

Robyn, with her homely rooms, always supporting the creativity of her children

Jake, a family home for all the children, relaxed regular home activities, endless playing in and outside, and outings to the beautiful park nearly everyday.

Agi, homely, magical, with creativity in every part of the environment

Jaynee, a family home for young children in a school environment, the beginning of a haven.

Vestavya, at the beginning of a big dream for an environmentally aware bush experience in her new setting.

Ali, a warm, inviting home with everything that children need to support their creativity and imagination

Some key questions include:

Handling conflict between the children, especially sharing

We watch as our sweet children become suddenly very possessive, willing to drive away any intruders into their play, or allow them to play with their toys, or have different wishes to their own. This is a new step into independence, and part of that is becoming an owner of things. I often say, you need to own something before you can share it and real sharing is a real gesture of giving away. So, to honour and support the children’s phase of independence and assertiveness, we can respect their wishes and ask them what can they share and whatever they can’t give them enough time with it, before they can give it up. A good way is to have duplicates of course, which many of you have, so as to avoid these situations.

Children are learning so many things at such a rate, and seem so bright and able, we can forget they are still learning so much, as well as at a very particular stage of development. In terms of conflict and having learnt the hard way as most of us do, I have realised that if I wish children to do the ‘right’ thing and have empathy, I need to provide an example through my behaviour. That is the fundamental way they learn. So, any reasoning or explaining does not meet them where they are in their active urge to learn through doing everything. My guidelines are: no blame or shame - do no harm (as I want them to have confidence and feel encouraged and not diminished) and for me to  choose to do things out of unconditional love for all of them - Choose love not fear (by making this an active choice, I give myself a few seconds to breathe and then take action). I find if I can gather the children in my arms, telling them how much I love them and how it makes me sad to see them hurt each other, for instance, or see after I make the children safe, to see what repair needs to be done, while engaging the child who inflicted the damage to help with this repair, much learning in a gentle way, takes place without doing harm.

From Creative Parenting by Carol and David Liknaitzky: Children of this phase are highly imitative beings, and learn everything by example and exploration. No amount of cajoling, imploring or reasoning will have any positive effect on their behavior. Rather, fear of disappointing us, or fear of our anger will drive children to hide their activities, but do them they will.

 

Managing Chellanging Behaviour

Children love stories and the right stories at the right time can be very helpful in changing behaviour. Again, because they are not yet intellectual beings able to rationalise like adults, they have the special gift of a wonderful imagination that is as real to them as anything brought through sensory experiences. When they hear stories, the live completely into the experience and their little souls go through the experience, learning about how life works through these happenings. A wonderful resource in stories that are helpful for different behaviours, as well as guidelines for how to create your own is Susan Perrow’s Healing Stories for challenging behaviour.

I include two stories I have developed: one for a shy child and the other for difficulties in sleeping.  

Rhythms and regular routines of the day - Food/ nutrition and sleep

A few educators have asked for help with regards to how to set up meaningful programs, activities, make meal times special and manage transitions during the day. These are amongst the most important questions for creating a foundation of healthy habits and well-being for the children that lasts much longer right into adulthood. They incorporate children’s need for movement, play, learning practical skills and developing confidence and creativity and care for each other and the world. Here is an example I created for Jaynee recently:

Detailed program

9.00: Outdoor play - gather some leaves for activity

9.30: Circle time (15min)

Gather: Come and make a circle please, a circle please, a circle please,

Come and make a circle please, Let’s all hold hands.

 

Action rhymes:

Two eyes to see, two ears to hear

Two feet to walk and run.

These are my hands

To join with yours

Good morning everyone.

 

Good morning dear earth, good morning dear sun,

Good morning to you, good morning everyone.

Good morning Ankele, good morning…. Good morning…. Good morning everyone!

 

Finger games etc

 

We clap our hands, we stamp our feet X2

We wriggle our fingers, we wriggle our nose

We reach up high and touch our toes 

We fly, we fly, we fly all around.

We fly, we fly, we reach up high

And touch the ground.

We fly, we fly, we fly all around.

We fly, we fly, we reach up high

And sit on the ground. (preparing for a story)

 

9.45: Story time (15 - 20min) (need candle and lighter)

Mother earth and the seed babies

Song to gather for story ‘Come little children, let us go, to the land where stories go. We will enter a magic land, It is known as storyland’

Song for lighting the story candleLight fairy, light fairy, please come when we call you X 2

Before story song –‘Mother of the fairy tale Take us through your magic veil, With mountains high and valleys deep, Where fairies fly and goblins creep. Oh let us hear your fairy tale.’

After story song ‘Thank you for your fairy tale’

Blow out candle gently.

 

10.00: set up and do Activity - Leaf rubbings (need wax crayons)

 

 

10.30: Tea (20 - 30 minutes) (need basin, soap and towel, candle and lighter)

Wash hands: song ‘Let’s all wash hands together (X3)

As children like to do.’

Tea:  light a candle song Light fairy, light fairy, please come when we call you X 2

Blessing

“Blessings on the blossoms, Blessings on the root,

Blessings on the leaves and stems, Blessings on the fruit.”

Blessings on our tea / meal!

Finish tea everyone sings Thank you for our tea / meal

Everyone helps to clear up Tidy up / washing / cleaning song

We all wash up together, We all wash up together, We all wash up together

As children like to do.

We all clean up together, We all clean up together, We all clean up together

As children like to do.

 

11.00: Outdoor play (30 - 50 minutes)

 

Song to go outside

‘Let’s all go out/in/stand up together (X3)

As children like to do.’

Sweeping, balancing, exploring and observing what is happening outside

 ‘Ring a ring a rosies, a pocket full of posies, hatishu hatishu, we all fall down’ around the tree,

The wind does blow  ho ho ho See the leaves all falling down,

To make a carpet on the ground,

Swish, swish, wind blows by,

Swish, swish, away they fly.

Free play connecting to the season, nature

 

12.00: Lunchtime (30 minutes)

Gather song: ‘Let’s all go in together’

Wash hands: song ‘Let’s all wash hands together (X3)

As children like to do.’

Set up lunch together

Tea:  light a candle song Light fairy, light fairy, please come when we call you X 2

Blessing

“Blessings on the blossoms, Blessings on the root,

Blessings on the leaves and stems, Blessings on the fruit.”

Blessings on our meal!

Finish lunch everyone sings Thank you for our meal

Everyone helps to clear up Tidy up / washing / cleaning song

We all wash up together, We all wash up together, We all wash up together

As children like to do.

We all clean up together, We all clean up together, We all clean up together

As children like to do.

 

 

12.30: Outdoor play (45 minutes)

 

Song to go outside

‘Let’s all go out/in/stand up together (X3)

As children like to do.’

Free play connecting to the season, nature

 

 

1.15: Rest

 

Gather to go inside to rest song ‘Come follow follow, follow, follow, me. Do what I do X4 right now’

Prepare beds together

Song for going to rest

Up in the sky, the little birds fly.

(flutter outstretched hands)

Down in their nests the little birds rest.

(lower hands into lap)

With a wing on the left, and a wing on the right,

(wave left hand, then right)

The dear little birdies sleep all night. (fold hands under cheek)

Also can sing songs from the story

 

2.15: Wake up (finish leaf rubbings with painting) and outdoor play

 

2.30: Snack time (outside?)

2.50: Goodbye circle song ‘Goodbye now goodbye now, we’ll see each other again, Goodbye now goodbye now, we’ll see each other again’

 

Natural resources

As children are new to the world, we encourage them to have experiences that are connected,  appreciative, and give them a sense of wholeness. They experience the world as a whole and enter into every experience with openness and have no filters to block anything out. They have no discrimination ability yet, and cannot judge what is healthy or unhealthy. They experience everything very deeply through their senses and ‘make sense’ of the world through their experiences. It ‘makes sense’ to help them connect first with the natural world that has a kind of being and connection to what it means to be human and on the earth. Wood, wool, sand, water, cotton are all connected to natural growth processes and leave that imprint in their textures and sounds. Their weight matches their size and mass and each material has a quality and a personality that tells an organic story. For example, when I pick up a ceramic plate, it is heavy and needs to be treated with care. If I pick up a plastic late, it weighs very little and does not invite me to take care of it. Whereas manufactured substances like plastics are derived from petroleum and changed radically from their original, natural substances are truly what they are. It is very helpful and healthful then, to introduce the natural substances first as much as possible before plastics for example, in order to build that deep sense of connectivity and belonging that a child experiences through this interaction. They also learn to care for them, each in their own special way. Plastic, we can throw around and when they break, they are not easily fixed, whereas natural substances can always be fixed or changed. When a child plays with a basket made from willow, he can see and feel how it has been made. Compare that to a plastic machine moulded imitation basket where there is no evidence of human hands and human endeavour. So, generally, to have more natural than plastic resources is advisable, though we do not need to be fanatical about it, just sensitive as to what can support healthy development. Here are some lovely examples of resources in an early childhood setting.

These are some of the things I will continue to explore and would love your input and ideas as well as your questions.