Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There's no Sheriff in Town

You may thinking, "What a strange title for a post on an early childhood blog." Now there is method in my madness. There are those among us, me included from time to time, who see ourselves as the authority maintaining law and order in our environments. I even posted about the balance between structure and spontaneity.

However, preschoolers are much more independent and capable of self management. In fact, they often display concern and empathy for others, which is more than I can say for many adults I know. Already this year I have had several approaches by my preschoolers concerning disputes with peers over any number of things. I am determined this year to empower my children and as such have already put the onus back on them to sort out their differences themselves. So far it has worked rather well.

Today there was an even greater achievement. After one of the preschoolers was stung by what we suspect was a wasp (we had seen one about, but didn't actually witness the stinging) ALL of her fellow preschooler made their way over to her and offered a hug to comfort and reassure her as she was quite distraught. Furthermore, upon seeing this open display of caring and empathy some of the younger children also offered to hug our injured friend. Positive peer role modelling and scaffolding at its finest.

Needless to say, There seems little need for a sheriff in this preschool. The inhabitants are quite capable of settling their own affairs. I'll just hang around to learn a thing or two off them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The New Kid on the Blog

A little while ago Alec Duncan guest posted on this blog. You can read that post here. Even though it was only a short time ago, Alec hass since set up his own website and blog.

I'm sure as he gets into it Alec will produce some truly remarkable and informative pieces. In the meantime I would like to invite everyone to check out some of the other wonderful men out there blogging about their life working with young children. A profession that is dominated by women so much that around 98% of people who are early childhood educators are female. So let's support these guys!

Tom Hobson and his blog Teacher Tom.

Matt Halpern and his blog Look at My Happy Rainbow.

Scott Wiley and his blog Brick by Brick. Some of you may remember my Interview with Scott last year.

We may be few and far between, but us guys have much to contribute to the world of early childhood education and care.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Preschool Voting System

A little while ago I posted about a new friend I introduced to my preschoolers. Well this week we decided it was time for him (as usual I simply assumed it was a him). to have a name.

Now there's been plenty of news of late about the battle between Presidential hopefuls in the US. Well it doesn't matter which democratic system you favour. Here in Australia we follow the Westminster System. However, I think my preschoolers and I decided to use the 'First Past the Post' system.

After accepting candidates, which was basically the children suggesting what they wanted the marionette to be called, we wrote the names down. Next we talked about how the voting would work, making sure everyone clearly understood.

As I said each name the children who wanted the dinosaur named that put their hand up and I tallied the votes, recording them beside each name. For the record, the final names up for voting were Saxon, Dylan and (I had nothing to do with this) Greg. It probably comes as no surprise to most that Greg was the ultimate winner and therefore, what we now call our marionatte.

Through such a simple experience the children learned quite advance democratic concepts that many adults struggle with. This will aid them in developing empathy as they learn to think about what the other person may be thinking. There was also math concepts of counting, comparison,  and one to one correspondence. Above all, the children were empowered and had ownership over the process, making it more meaningful for them than if I had simply told them what it was called.

I hadn't given my dinosaur a name, but even if I had there is no harm in them giving it one of their own.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Options than Childcare

Most, if not all of the people who might read this post and this blog are in some way involved in childcare. As most of you would know, there is a vast discrepancy between the number of men working in the profession to women. Many of you are most likely also aware of the main factors keeping men from considering childcare as a career. However, that is not what this post is about.

There are many other options out there for guys to consider of they enjoy spending time with children and would like to contribute to their growth and development.

There are plenty of opportunities to coach young children in sports, either individually or as a team. A good place to start is with your own children, if you have any that is, or those of friends or relatives.

My own story saw me become involved in my children's sports, mainly my son. Actually it began when I first became a parent, but for the point I'm trying to make let's just stick with the sport. I am currently helping him begin his burgeoning golf career, having been a low handicapper myself. In the past I have helped out in an unofficial capacity with his soccer teams, assisting at training and filling in as coach a few times. I have managed/co-coached his cricket teams and often take him for training sessions for his athletics. I managed his age group for 9 years and now look after the tiny tots. I  am also a vice president of the club.
Becoming involved in all these ways have helped me bocome a more complete parent and educator. The beauty of this type of involvement is that there is usually no formal training required, ecept pehaps for a session or two about the rules or training techniques.
So for any guys out there who may be a bit unsure of whether working with young children is for them, why not give coaching/managing/helping out a try. Who knows, it could be just the thing for you or it might even lead to other opportunities. Whatever happens, get out there! We need more quality men in all aspects of our children's lives.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Move from Toddlers to Preschoolers

Last year when I began this blog I was the leader of the toddler room of my centre. I shared quite a few experiences, which I feel demonstrated the high expectations I had of them and the belief I have that their experiences should be meaningful. The same goes for the preschool room where I find myself  this year.

I have plenty of ideas for this year. Some of them will come to fruition while others will manifest themselves in other ways. It will mostly depend on what the children want. One thing I can promise is that I have more excursions planned for this year. My toddlers didn't venture out last year and the preschoolers had a single visit to the library. I want the children in my care to experience their local community and what it beholds. Afterall, they are part of it & it's a part of them.

We will be taking a ride on the train as the station pictured above is within sight of our centre. Look out for a post about that in the future.

Anyway, I'm all geared up for my year in preschool.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to Preschool

Well here in Australia we are  in the middle of our Summer. Hence, schools take their Summer breaks during this time of year, from a week or so before Christmas until the end of January/beginning of February. For early childhood setting the breaks vary greatly. Some, like most preschools, follow the same or similar breaks to schools. Yet, in long day care settings such as where I work, break are usually much shorter. We remain operating during breaks between terms throughout the year and only closed for the week between Christmas and New Years.

And so it was that today I returned to work, albeit in a different room. I have moved from the toddler room to the preschool room. One of the things I was most looking forward to was sharing something new with the children. Last year my sister-in-law accompanied her husband on a 3 month stint working in Canada. While there they managed to play tourist and found some 'treasures' for us back in Aus. Although they returned a few months ago, our 'treasures' were kept from us until Christmas. Imagine my surprise when I was handed a box emblazoned with bottles of wine. Upon opening it I discovered a couple of hand puppets and a wonderful velociraptor marionette.

The children were instantly excited to see my surprise and intrigued on how it moved about. As I moved around the group the children all wanted to pat and hug our new friend.I even managed to get him to move his legs in a running motion which the children loved, although I'm sure some of them thought it was dancing.

Somtime in the near future I'm going to see if the children want to give our new friend a name, taking suggestions and voting for the name we want the most. Keep an eye out for that post.