Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Gan is the place where children come to grow, to discover what they are capable of and develop skills- only to set new goals to accomplish.
This is the place where smiles and exclamations of pride can be seen and heard.
Though at times a child's new ability appears to sprout instantaneously, that burst of skill and capability was nurtured and supported each time the child engaged in the activity.
The following are two areas which describe this process.

The ladders.
Watching children climb is a fascinating thing. Once they have mastered the coordination of their body and developed a certain amount of "fearlessness" the ladders are no longer obstacles to the joy of the slide.

The slanted step ladder to the train slide is a good first start; it is slanted like stairs and a manageable goal.

The vertical ladder on the play structure is straight up. A child needs alternate their feet and arms to push and pull themselves up.
Not an easy feat, yet once practiced it becomes as easy as the slanted ladder.

The rope ladder can appear daunting to the young eye.
Despite the intimidation the wobbly ladder creates, a child will begin to climb it.
This ladder is slanted, but it MOVES.
It moves when the child is climbing up, and it moves when a friend is climbing up along side them.
There are holes from one step to the next, and the child has to coordinate their feet and arms to push and pull themselves to the top.
This process and development in gross motor control may not take place in one playtime. It can happen over a few days, perhaps weeks. It is the product of the interest, eagerness and determination of the child.
What may appear to be a small accomplishment -Wow you climbed the ladder!-
is in fact a huge development for the child's confidence and self esteem.
They slide down KNOWING they can do it again until their heart's content.

A similar process can be seen with cutting.
This is a huge point of interest.
The children get to use those special tools called scissors.
First we learn how to walk safely with them.
Then how we hold them in order to safely cut.
It can be awkward and feel uncomfortable. Eventually, with repetition it becomes more natural and requires less "set up" (let's put our thumb facing the ceiling, slide 2/3 fingers in the big hole, keep the scissors pointing away from our belly, open... and close... open... and close).
Generally, the first items cut look like confetti.
It is the process of cutting, of using the tool that the child is interested in.
Every opportunity to cut helps the child perfect the skill, increasing their accuracy for cutting on a line, and increased independence.
No longer does a child need to wait patiently for a teacher to help cut the beginning of the craft, or the top off the Go-gurt or juice straw.
The child has the ability, and belief, that she can help herself.

Each day at The Gan we strive to create an environment where each child feels empowered to explore ideas, skills and themselves.

We follow the interests of the children and create an environment
in which they smile, laugh, test limits, and discover the world.
This week we discovered that each apple has a star in it.

We pretended we were floating in space and playing "Toss the Moon Rock".
Morah Katie: Why are the rocks so light and easy to toss?
Dena: We are in space.
Morah Katie: We are, what is it about space that allows these "rocks" to be so easy to throw, like crumpled paper balls?
Levi: No gravity.
Morah Katie: Is there anything else gravity does?
Tori: Gravity makes us stay on the ground.
Kian: We don't float.
We are discovering how easy and fun it is to help others.
As the children do all these things, they are becoming happy, capable young people.

At our "Mock Shabbat" today we did things very different from our usual way.
Since tonight is Yom Kippur and we won't have Kiddush and challah, we didn't have grape juice and challah with our friends.
Instead, we had delicious honey cake, and instead of lighting the candles before our meal, we lit the Shabbat and Yom Kippur candles after our meal.
We hope our new year is as sweet as the honey cake we tasted.

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