Sunday, August 21, 2011

More from Bev

My three days at the "Good Stuff for Kids" conference (co-led by Bev Bos, Michael Leeman, and Dan Hodgins) in late July were filled with insight and reflection - and yet I never shared any of this with you, except for photos!

Well, it's the night before the first day of school. I am filled with excitement and anticipation, wondering what the day and the week will bring. I've decided to "decompress" a little by sharing a little more from the conference.

Roseville Community School in Roseville, California is a delightful place for children, filled with lots of incredible exploratory opportunities and a real sense of joy.

Bev noted several times how discipline problems are rare at the school - the children have so much to do, so much freedom of choice. For me, this point really resonated:

the more "powerful" experiences that you give to children, the more self-regulation they acquire, and the less discipline issues that arise.

What does it mean to support or provide power for a preschooler? Here are some thoughts from Bev, Michael, and Dan:

Hammering and sawing (using real tools - with adult guidance)
Provide lots of physical space
A variety of movable objects
Climbing walls
Allow children to raise their voices, to be louder than you want
Have a loud space (not just a calm down space)
Visual guidance (rather than adult voice)
Allow children to take things back and forth between centers/areas of the room
Give children choices; be flexible with them
Sword fighting with rolled-up newspapers
Ignore healthy "bullying" between children- such as - "Hey, go get that block for me" (retire the teacher's voice re: bossiness - especially if it's not an issue for the receiver)
Put out pretend fires
Construction - in as big space as possible (most workbenches are too small)
Crates for pulling and filling
Rough-housing and tumble play
Clay pounding
Dressups - especially capes
Tug of war
Arm wrestling
"London Bridge"
"Red Rover, Red Rover"
Boxes for kicking

In your classroom, put yourself in the child's place and consider:

"Can I keep it as long as I want?" [Yes!]
"Do I get one?" [Yes! There multiples of the same thing!]
"If I don't share, am I still good?" [Yes!]
"Do I have something to do while I am waiting?" [Yes!]

Bev Bos is a passionate advocate of classroom learning that begins with children's voices, children's interests, children's engagement. We shouldn't be spoon-feeding curriculum, but instead watching and expanding on their play. In real play, children decide:

- what to play,
- where to play,
- how to play, and
- with whom to play.

Are we providing early childhood settings that allow these choices?

Preschool environments must be child-centered, not adult-driven. Regarding books for read alouds, Bev notes - "If a kid doesn't say something on the first page, than I don't read it, I slip it away and choose another book."

Clue in! Be aware of activities that are not relevant to young children. They will tell you with their bodies, with their voices, with their movements.

The Rosewood Community School is clearly a place that has clued in to children.

Well, now I'll get back to my excitement and anticipation about tomorrow...
Here's to a new school year!

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