Sunday, March 30, 2014

Flowers are Red

Let us be mindful of the messages we give children. As teachers our words and actions leave lasting impressions. So let's ensure that we guide children to see the wonderful colors of life in their own unique way. It is our calling to walk along side children, to light the flame of learning. 

Flowers are Red
by Harry Chapin
The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man
I'm paintin' flowers he said
She said... It's not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There's a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You've got to show concern for everyone else
For you're not the only one
And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen
But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one
Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me.....
And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen
But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one
The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It's for your own good..
And you won't come out 'til you get it right
And are responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said
Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen
Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin'
She said...Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let's use every one
But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said
Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Insieme-The Importance of Being Together

In the autumn of 2013, I accepted a part time teaching position at Centennial College. The subject, the Project Approach. Having worked with projects for over a decade, I considered this to be an easy undertaking.

Working with perspective teachers is a great responsibility and as such I delved into the process of research (more so than usual).
As teachers we are always students. We can never turn away from the need to seek new information, to find, discover and uncover new knowledge.

The introduction of the Reggio Approach in North America has caused a great deal of upheaval in the traditional thinking around the education of young children. There is no shortage of books, articles, polices, documents to support this. 
Each article is rich in providing the reader with the underlying guidelines and the how to that are needed to support this type of pedagogy. 
The question is, how are educators making the transition and are they truly prepared?
Are the environments ready?
Just as a surgeon requires instruments to perform his surgery, so to must the classrooms be equipped with the tools needed to support the children's theories, to help them seek answers, to pursue the hundred languages.

Beyond this, the greatest shift must come in our investment in relationships; with children, parents, each other and our community. Our need to be insieme!
In being together we must invest in knowing each other.
How well do you know the children in your class? What experiences have helped to shape each child's foundation; family, culture, illnesses, previous settings, do they travel, do they sleep well at night, how did they develop as infants, did they talk later than expected? The list is endless.
Knowing all these things, how then do you use them to support the child in his/her daily experiences?
How well do you know the parents? How do you cultivate the relationship? How do you involve them in your classroom community?
What community support or involvement do you engage in your class?
Do you seek to be connected to a global community? If so how and why?
When children begin in your preschool or classroom, is there a period of inserimento; a time when the child and parents are oriented to school life through visits and encounter scheduled well ahead of the anticipated start date.It is a period for everyone to become familiar so when the child finally starts, transition to school life is comfortable.
In an ideal world, a community should be a place where families grow together; where extended families are just around the corner, where we meet at the piazza for an evening chat while the children chase pigeons. Such is the life of many Italian communities; the reason why I so love visiting the place of my birth. They honor the ritual of insieme!
In most instances, our communities are massive, we are fragmented, during the winter months many climates are harsh driving people indoors, we barely greet people who pass by us, we are hurried. 
As such we are challenged to address the importance of being together and getting to know each other.
However nothing is impossible.
Nothing changes without commitment.
The tides of change are upon us.......

So I hold great hope for the next generation of teachers who truly embrace this new way of thinking.

There will be many moments of doubt and challenges.

In moments of deep frustration (which are shared by many), when you ask yourself why you should invest so much, when you  feel isolated, think of these words of encouragement,
"You are like a pebble that has been tossed into still water. It ripples and eventually causes a mighty wave."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lending a Helping Hands to the Squirrels!

It's been a long, cold winter. Even, these little creatures have been hard pressed to find food under the thick coating of ice that was left behind in December. Thanks to the tasty bread, supplied by Euro Harvest Bakery in Woodbridge Ontario

many of our bushy tailed friends have not gone hungry.
In fact, they wait by the playground door, gracefully accepting our humble offerings, each and every morning!
What a perfect way for young children to learn to care for God's creatures.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Resist Temptation!

Learning should be developmentally appropriate for the age and the experience that comes with age! Resist temptation to start instruction too early!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

STEM in the Early Years

As teachers we consider STEM ( science, technology, engineering and math) as one of the areas that brings about the highest level of thinking, and problem solving.  Most of all it nurtures the disposition to inquire and to make sense of the mechanics of life.
There is no doubt that children are engineers; constantly modifying the world to satisfy their curiosities. In consideration of this, then our task is to create environments that facilitate opportunities to test their thinking.

Let us consider Aidan and Marco, whose fascination with the Star Wars light saber, led to the making of this intricate Electric Machine.
If I had to say that we were surprised by how much Aidan already knew about electricity, it would be a lie. Aidan has been with us since he was a toddler. Now at the age of six, he is a master of theories.
Water is a conductor of electricity.
We must be careful not to place electrical components into water.
Electricity makes things work.
Electricity comes from a source such as batteries, wind and sockets.
Wires are needed somewhere along the source.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snowy Days

 Snowy Days Bring Forth the Most Beautiful Expressions!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Rocket Ship

We recently introduced a few new "items" to the children; wooden reels and circles as well as a multitude of light accessories (which I had sitting in storage for awhile).  You can't begin to imagine how innovative they have been in their initial tinkering.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The First Signs of Winter!

Although I don't welcome Winter as I would a long lost friend, I take comfort in the exceptional experiences that the children engage in during this season. A light dusting of snow in the playground, prompted these boys to make the first snowman of winter.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Provocation, coming from the verb to provoke, meaning to stir up, arouse or call forth feelings, desires, or activity; to incite or stimulate to action; to give rise to, induce, or bring about.  When we intentionally prepare invitations for children we should ask ourselves, what could possibly result from such enticements?
It is here, in the children’s response to the provocations that we begin to gauge their thoughts, theories and understanding. It is here that we formulate questions and negotiate learning.

An invitation to explore leaves becomes much more when it is presented in this context!
I think of a provocation as a beautifully set dinner table. Consider how you feel when you walk into a dining room illuminated by soft candles, with a table dressed in fine china and a beautiful center piece.
The same can be said for thoughtful provocations.

We seek to lure the children to explore so we must be mindful, creative and fresh in our enticements.
This requires teachers to be constant researchers and "seekers".

Monday, November 4, 2013

Every Child Is Someone's Precious!

I became an Early Childhood educator at the age of 21, fueled with a deep love of children and respect for the educational process. When I became a mother I saw children through different eyes. I became more patient, kinder, and empathetic to the process parents undergo when they  let go.
Every child is someone's precious.  As teachers we should always keep this thought close to our hearts.
I am grateful for the wonderful journey of motherhood that I share with my three exceptional children. It is because of them that I have remained committed to excellence in my profession. They did not always have the kindest of teachers. Many left them with scars; perhaps feeling less than worthy. But there were a few exceptional teachers who nurtured their souls as well as their minds. They are the ones whom my children still remember with fondness.

Here are my thoughts for today as I post not only as a teacher, but also as a mother.

My son Daniel and my niece Marlow
My daughter Liana and son Matthew
 Our children don't stay little forever.

Now that mine are adults I often find myself wishing for the days filled with rambunctious play, chocolate chip cookies and milk, bedtime stories, Disneyland....
There was never enough time.
What would I say to a young mother if she asked for my advice?
Savor every moment. Even when you are exhausted from a long day of work, give up that extra hug, read their favorite book just one more time before you turn out the lights, go to the park instead of doing an extra load of laundry, laugh at the silly things they do. Know that you children will make endless mistakes and don't get angry. Reassure them. Let that know you will always be there to catch them when they fall.
Don't let anyone make your children feel bad about themselves. It is your responsibility to protect them as much as you can but not to shelter them from all of life's happenings. Rest assured that there will be many people in their lives who will hurt them and not always be kind. Support them as best you can so they do not become jaded. As difficult as it is to watch, these will be the things that will define them.
Teach them life skills; cooking, cleaning and laundry, grocery shopping, they will need to know how to do these things when they leave home. Make family time important; visiting grandparents, Sunday lunches, birthdays, dinner time, breakfast before school. They need to belong and honor traditions.
Teach them to have faith in something bigger than themselves, to respect others and the natural world.
Teach them generosity and gratitude. They are not entitled to everything and they need to know that most things must be earned in life.
Teach them humility and humanity.
Above all else give them the gifts of your time, unconditional love and respect.

And know that undoubtedly you will make many mistakes and that's okay.