Thursday, July 28, 2011

Been Away Taking On New Tasks

Since October of last year I have been frantically learning the ropes of managing a laboratory school in California. I have done that in another state whose regulations are much less complicated. Now that I have the basics under my belt my hope is to pick up where I left off on this blog and continue on regularly. More to come...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Relationships, Attachment and Success

Section 7 reminds us of the importance of building caring relationships with children. When adults and children "get to know each other well, they learn to predict each other's signals and behavior and establish attunement and trust." Within a trusting relationship (a secure attachment) children are able to take risks and challenge themselves. When each of us steps outside of our comfort zone, a bit, we provide ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow.

Be the teacher that helps each one of the children in your class form secure attachments and caring relationships. "..set the stage for other future relationships.." and provide the children with the confidence to explore and discover the world around them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Built In Survival Tools Versus Development

Item 6 of "Principles of child development and learning that inform practice" brings up a point of confusion. Even though research and observation tells us that young children live in the here and now and are very limited in their understanding of the abstract sometimes built in survival mechanism like understanding more and less confuse the issue.

In order to survive in the environment even babies need to be aware of when new items are added to the environment and when items are taken away. This knowledge of the environment assists them in coping, adjusting and learning. Some adults use this ability to support their view that young children can think more abstractly than we give them credit for. A built in ability functions without understanding in the beginning and takes time and experience in order to develop true understanding. For example, the ability to find and suckle a food source is a reflex (or built in) in the beginning but becomes learned later on as the child gains experience eating and their brain and motor skills mature.

My concern is that adults will leap ahead in their expectation of a child's abilities with out providing them with opportunities to practice and gain experience in order to fully understand an abstract concept and move on to the next level. Make sure to provide direct experience with all of the senses and lots of opportunities to explore and practice with three dimensional representations of objects and real objects when ever it is possible.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Setting Up the Framework for Future Development

In the section of the Developmentally Appropriate Practices Position Statement entitled "Principles of child development and learning that inform practice" item 5 states "Early experiences have profound effects, both cumulative and delayed, on a child's development and learning...". Sometimes I think we confuse this fact with the perspective that children are resiliant and can deal with almost anything. It may appear that a child is doing fine but the effects of inappropriate teaching practices may not become evident until later (delayed). One of the major roles of early educators is to set up the background knowledge and experience that prepares children for future cognitive abilities and tasks. If the background knowledge and experience is not there such as knowing the value of print or understanding one to one correspondance later when a child is expected to master reading comprehension or addition the child will not have the cognitive tools they need to be successful. Set up the framework for future task don't rush to the tasks themselves!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Basic Aspects of Developmentally Appropriate Practices

The new edition of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) Position Statement calls these "Core Considerations" and discusses them in the context of making decisions in the classroom. First consider "What is known about child development and learning..", second "What is known about each child as an individual..." and finally "What is known about the social and cultural context in which the child lives....".

As I think about this core, I am reminded of how I spent my Friday last week in an all day training session focusing on the tool our state developed to evaluate how effective the programs are that our tax dollars support. This evaluation tool (DRDP) has recently been revised to match the work the state has done related to the first aspect of DAP "What is known about child development and learning", California calls these foundations. I am pleased to say that the training on Friday revolved around gathering information to determine the other two aspects of DAP knowing the individual child and their social and cultural context. The key words the trainers wanted us to remember are "review and reflect". Both are essential to Developmentally Appropriate Practices!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Critical Issues in the Position Statment and Issues in California

As you begin reading the official Position Statement regarding Developmentally Appropriate Practices you will find a section titled "Critical issues in the current context". A subheading of that section is "Reducing the learning gaps and increasing the achievement of all children." You will find a similar statement in the Master Plan for Education in the state of California:"closing the school readiness gap."

The California Department of Education understands that learning and development that occurs before Kindergarten influences long term learning outcomes in K - 12th Grade. To address this issue The California Infant/Toddler and Preschool Learning and Development System has been established. The system includes Program Guidelines, Developmental Foundations (age expectations), Curriculum Frameworks (dealing with instruction) and Desired Results (assessment and evaluation).

If you are interested in finding out more about the California Learning and Development System visit the WebSites indicated in the right hand margins.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Improving Teaching and Learning

The final Key Message includes many important ideas. The first and fifth really tie to what this blog has been addressing from the beginning. "A teacher's moment-by-moment actions and interactions with children are the most powerful determinant of learning..." "Effective teachers are intentional in their use of variety of approaches and strategies to support children..."

Children learn and develop moment by moment. Adults who interact with children must realize and take very seriously the profound impact that they have individually on this process. It is our responsibilty to be knowledgeable and thoughtful in all we do.