Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Year

As summer wound down, my excitement built for the upcoming crafts, games and experiences I hope to share with this year's group of extraordinary children.
I looked at the classroom with a critical eye:
Are there plenty of opportunities to develop the fine motor skills needed for writing?
Are there enticing activities to help develop phonemic awareness?
Are there items to sort and create patterns with for mathematical development?
Yet there is always another question I ask myself every September, truthfully I ask it every day:
How do we best help these young children develop the intangible skills which will help them succeed in life?
As important as fine motor development, letter recognition and mathematical thinking are to success in school, a child needs to skillfully express their needs in a peaceful way, to feel open to new experiences, and positively channel frustration to be successful presently and later in life.

At The Gan we guide and assist the children as they develop attributes and skills such as sharing, helping, compromise, and respect for others.
We provide specific language to help them resolve conflicts in a peaceful and respectful manner.
Evelyn: I want to play. I want the apples.
Clara: No. Nora and I are playing with it right now.
Evelyn: But I want to play.
Nora: No. We are playing with it.
Morah Katie: Girls, the apple box looks pretty fun.  Have you explained to Evelyn why you said no?
(No comment.)
Evelyn, the apple box only has room for 4 hands, or 2 children. 
Right now Clara and Nora are playing with it.  As soon as they are done, you may play with it. Girls, did you let Evelyn know she can play when you are done?
Clara; When we are done you can have it.
Evelyn: But I want to play now.
Morah Katie: You may watch while you wait, perhaps find another activity to play with? You can ask Clara to let you know when they are done.
Evelyn: I'll watch and wait. I can sit in this chair.
As soon as Clara and Nora were finished, Evelyn was able to play.  Abram joined in with her.
Evelyn: There is room for both of us.

Ari: Morah Katie Judah took my rocket and he took my space station.
Morah Katie: Ari I am sorry to hear that. I see that you look upset. Have you tried talking to Judah? Would you like to tell him how you feel?
(Ari nods his head for a yes, and I follow him to Judah and the blocks.)
Ari: Judah I don't like it when you take my rocket and space shuttle.
Judah is turning away to continue to play with the blocks.
Morah Katie: Judah, Ari is trying to tell you something, when you turn away and keep playing he can't tell if you heard him.
Judah: Ok.
Morah Katie: Judah, please look at Ari with a calm body so he can see you are listening.
Ari repeats himself.
Judah: Here you go I just wanted the blocks.
Morah Katie: How can you let Ari know you want the blocks next time?
Judah: I can tell him.
Ari: And I will share next time.

We acknowledge the moments of helpfulness and caring.
Morah Katie: Amelia thank you for helping Sadie.
Evelyn: She said I could play with her. 
Morah Katie: It was really kind of you Olivia to share with Evelyn.
Olivia: Yeah, we are both making ice cream.
Evelyn: It is so good.
Olivia: It is the best ice cream. 

There are moments of direct teaching of conflict resolution skills and guided questions to help one child imagine what another might be feeling, but there are many moments of spontaneous sharing and helping- most of the time the camera woman isn't quick enough to catch them!

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