Friday, August 19, 2011

Z is for Zebra Part 2 - 8/11/11

I forgot how much I LOVE Bev Bos!

It has been a long time since I have had to do any continuing education in regard to early learning. My focus has been on homeschooling and elementary education for many years now. But in thinking about preschool and looking for fresh ideas, I remembered Bev Bos. She was a huge positive influence once once I got really serious about really trying to be the best teacher I could be. Here is one of here recent posts and book recommendations. I found the book the other night at the book store when I was out with my 3 best friends. Of course it made us all tear up. Need to get it for my kids to keep and give it to them at the right time. LOVED it. Anyway, if you aren't familiar with her, you need to be. Her books Don't Move the Muffin Tins, Before the Basics, and Together We're Better are essential reading for any preschool teacher and are full of great ideas for art, play and learning.

Now, after that love-fest, I also thing I have grown a little since Bev Bos. I don't necessarily whole-heartedly agree with a completely play-based approach to preschool like I once did. I was there once. And maybe she's right. Maybe I am wrong. I will concede that. I am just going to go on my own experience. On what I have seen. I was a full-on supporter of non-academic play-based, explorative, child-led learning for early childhood education through age 5. I was thrilled to have found that for Bella when she was 3. I LOVED her preschool. I even worked there for awhile. I learned so much there. I wished I could stay there and she could too. But she grew up. And had to start Kindergarten. And she struggled. She didn't know her letters, or letter sounds. She didn't have good handwriting because she hadn't really been working on any writing at all. By the time I started homeschooling her in 3rd grade, she was at a 1st grade level in math. I honestly believe she suffered for not having any exposure to early academics. She is a smart kid. She did learn a lot about the social game during those 2 years of preschool. She had a LOT of fun. She got to be a little kid for 2 more years. And I treasure that time for her. I'm so happy that she got to have it. But I regret that she had to start out Kindergarten "behind" the other kids. I think there could have been a happy medium somehow.

I know from my own experience teaching that kids from 2-5 are sponges! They LOVE learning new things. They want to know more and more and more. They can handle learning things we don't expect they can handle. They will let you know when they have had enough, when they are bored, and when they are ready to keep going. They need a very rich environment, they DO need to feel free to play and explore, and make mistakes, but they also need to be challenged and to learn new things, and to be prepared for learning. And starting them early gives them that much of a head start. It has to be a gentle balance. You don't want to burn them out on "school" type subjects or "busy work" but you don't want to completely keep them from doing any of it either.  Lot's to think about!

Today's learning included:
Sorting Numbers ("Mommies and Babies")

Practicing some tricky letters.

Counting cubes, naming colors, and making a "Z."

Easel Painting!!

Writing on the chalkboard. Erasing was almost as much fun!
Jem made a cartoon. Most interesting thing about this was Scout was able to read this like a book without needing to sound it out or anything. I guess kids can speak (an read) each other's language!

Making a Duplo "Zoo"

 Art Projects

By the way, Bev Bos would HATE this art project!  :)   In Don't Move the Muffin Tins, "Rule Four: Avoid models.  Never make a model to show to a child. . . It's insulting."   But my kids love using the "How to draw" type books. I think it can be done in a non-threatening and accepting way. "Yours looks different than hers, but that's ok" kind of thing. "How did you do that?" "It's interesting how you did that." "Oh, look what you did there!"  That sort of thing.  Anyway, they had fun. Sorry Bev. Love you anyway!

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