A teaching moment?
We think cooperative classrooms are the ideal. In co-opps, Parents participate in their child’s early education, observe their children in early social settings, and learn from people who’ve been working with children for years. In the cooperative setting, parents take on a unique role, one that might not occur to them at home. They have to follow the rules.
At home parents make the rules, and children follow the rules. Our kids may never get to see us as rule followers.
But when parents participate in their child’s early education, they follow the teacher and the plan and model the behaviors that are expected in the classroom – parents sit on chairs, not tables; sit quietly at circle time and pay attention to the teacher; eat their snacks at the table; and ride trikes with their shoes on!
Parents do these things because they happen to be what we ask our children to do (and we have a measure of grace for children who aren’t ready to be constrained … but parents are still expected to model good rule-following!). There may be different rules in your learning space–the key is consistency: we tell our parents, “If you can sit on a table and text with your friends, we aren’t able to tell children that they can’t sit on tables and have their electronic toy permanently in front of them.
Really great story of a hero kindergarten teacher who tries an audacious experiment in kindness. Author and kindergarten teacher (and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient) Vivian Paley’s story is told on This American Life in a recent re-broadcast.
A highlight: 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders being nostalgic about the kindness of their younger selves. Be sure to listen through to the end. So encouraging.
(11 minute long audio, available through the player on the radio show’s site)
This week was a visit to the De Young Museum in San Francisco to see (among other works of art) photographs of Iraqi daily life during the US-led allied invasion of 2003, especially the photographs of that conflict’s impact on children. These moving and disturbing images remind us that war and deprivation wreak havoc on children around the world. Our neighborhoods seem so ideal by comparison.
We want to be mindful of our privilege, and thankful, knowing that there are horrors in the world that we are not required to face. And we also look for ways to align our family resources with works of justice and relief for those who suffer.
Yet we think that one of the best contributions we can make to the world is raising children to make it better. And the best way to do that, is to give the children in our care every advantage, so that they enter the world with love to spare.
We love preschools. We love all they give to children, and all the ways children bring their own awesome energy to new experiences. The reason to put a child in preschool is so that they can begin to learn how to be with people and understand the rhythms of group life. It is a preparation for school.
There is a common misconception that from the very beginning preschool is about sitting at the table and learning academics. It is almost never about that. In a good preschool we prepare the child for the moment when they are ready to sit down and write or count or read.