Friday, May 25, 2012

Make it Visible

There's an important rule to remember in early childhood education. No matter what the topic, it's easy for us to get caught up in the knowledge that we know what we're talking about. That we understand that there is much more going on than meets the eye. However, from a parent's perspective that might not wash. As a parent I may well have confidence in those charged with caring for and educating my child/ren, but I should also be able to see the benefits my child is getting out of being in this setting. What skills and knowledge they are gaining.

Take the picture above. We can see the creativity going on here as well as the mathematical concepts being explored, but do parents? If we share this picture do we explain all that was going on during the process of its creation? I believe we owe it to families to ensure they are getting the whole picture of what their child is learning in each experience. If you were shown this picture as a parent would you look beyond the coloured lines and outline of your child? What else would you think had been going on? What learning is occurring? Remember, most parents are not equipped with in depth child development knowledge so may not think of thing you might take for granted.

Another case in point is the simple game of Follow the Leader. This is a game most children would play with peers, siblings, parents and other adults. An enjoyable experience in itself, and a great way for children to learn about turn taking and following directions. During such an experience you could mention what is happening to expose children to the terminology. Words such as along, through, over, behind, up, together, opposite, etc. Children learn language when exposed to it. They don't need to repeat it time and time again.

Sharing this with parents can be as simple as highlighting key words in documentation, or when speaking with families about their child's day mention the little details. They will be things that will matter most and will most likely stick in their minds. I know this sounds like redundant advice as it's so obvious, but I know I sometimes fail to share the more important small things and I doubt I'm alone in that. We owe families at least that much, if not much more.

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