Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Not a week goes by that doesn’t send me scurrying for my pen to write down an important thought or shared concern we all have so that I may do further research and thinking about this ever personal and deeply challenging topic that underlies the conversation: Bias.
What is Bias? A dictionary will tell you many meanings, the two I am focusing on are: (source: wordnetweb.com)
· Influence in an unfair way; "you are biasing my choice by telling me yours"
· A partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation
Consider these for a moment in the context of Early Childhood Education.
How do children learn best? -Modeling.
Who do they watch first and foremost as their models? -Teachers and family members.
The above definitions almost read like an order of events. If a child is influenced by what YOU think and feel, won’t they then be partial to YOUR way of thinking and won’t that then prevent their objective consideration of events?
Simply put: If you always scrunch up your nose when you see or smell pork, will your child want to avoid pork? Of course! When they learn more language will they be likely to think of pork as “bad” or “wrong”? Most certainly!
Now put this into the context of a parent or care giver who is uncomfortable around issues we all struggle with like sexual preference or racial differences or religious beliefs. One can quickly see that for young children, the world is a maze of ideas and opinions – biases, if you will – that are not their own. However, to a young child who is merely absorbing parent and caregiver ideas these biases feel as if they are truths.
Can you see the danger here?
In considering excellence in education we always have to consider the individual needs of the children if we hope to be effective. We must leave our own, personal, biases at the doors of our classrooms in many instances. And, on the surface, that seems logical to almost everyone in our field and our context.
Just try and believe that when it comes to something you have a personal bias toward and it can quickly become difficult.
A great example I know has to do with my own son. During a recent presidential campaign he heard a political ad supporting the candidate that I did not support.
I had never directly discussed politics or presidents with my then young son, but he heard me talking about my opinions to others. This political ad was, admittedly, rather intriguing and when it was over he piped up from the backseat: “Mama? Did you like that ad?” I remarked that I thought it was clever, yes. Then, after a pause he asked, “Mama? I can’t remember. WHO do we wish will become President again? Was it the guy in THAT ad? Because, can we like that ad if it’s not our team?”
Who do WE want to become President? OUR team? I was flabbergasted that he knew so much about it all and just dumbstruck that this child of an Early Childhood Professional would be so biased! He considered no other criteria than what his parents thought was right.
I felt the weight of a thousand pounds descend on my shoulders as I contemplated this reality and wondered how in the world I would ever raise an open-minded and non-biased citizen of the Earth with a start like this!
It is profoundly important to remember that young children will be biased according to the thoughts and feelings of their family and culture, period. There is no escape from enculturation, and actually, this a good thing.
It presents a challenge only when we forget it and try to behave as if this wonderful melting pot of a country we live in is not a beautiful mix of both difference and similarity.
So, you can see why we get so excited in my class each week. We begin to discuss matters of the lives of children and the ideals and best practices of a pre-school context and before we know it we are debating religion and discipline and skin color and all of the many different ways our clients will challenge us to be unbiased and welcoming in our classrooms and offices--no matter what shape their family holds and no matter what biases they have learned.
Unbiased and welcoming? To every child? What a beautiful world that will be……
My name is Kelly Lee Kist. I have been an Early Childhood Educator since I enrolled in Community College at age 17. I started my own preschool as a young adult and, through the years, found my time spent in educating teachers and parents as enriching and important as my time with the children. After two decades of Preschool Teaching, Mentoring and Development I left my school and the non-profit agency, The Seasons Way, in good hands in California and relocated to the Twin Cities to raise my son and focus more exclusively on adult learners. I am delighted to join the Rasmussen team and grateful for every opportunity to connect, reflect and learn in my work and in my life.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I know it's been a while, but I still haven't finished sharing all the information about centers. In my course "Learning Centers," written by Maxine Cornwell Edwards, there is a plethora of information. I have already shared with you the primary centers that Ms. Edwards recommends for every childcare facility: block center, family center, cooking center, art center, and the quiet center. Today I wanted to write real quickly about secondary centers.
Ms. Cornwell states that not all facilities have space for secondary centers, but with a little creativity they can be incorporated. She says sometimes all it takes is a table and chair with a few props.
As mentioned earlier, the art center is NOT the craft center. So, one center that would be a secondary center is the craft center. The craft center is very similar to the art center except there is a lot more, well, junk. There are egg cartons, popsicle sticks, spools, fabric, etc., you know the list could go on and on. The trick here is not to overpower your center with stuff.
Another way to incorporate secondary centers, I feel, is to add them occasionally. Here is where those lovely "prop boxes" come in. You may have heard of them before. I know I saw a great post about them somewhere--but where?
In my course "Making Learning Fun," by Clairece Feagin, there is a list of prop boxes and materials that could keep you changing centers weekly. A prop box would have a theme, and be filled with items pertaining to that theme. When you want to set up a secondary center, you bring out the box for a while and transform an area for new play and learning.
Prop boxes engage children in mostly different types of dramatic play, but they also incorporate many areas of learning and, of course, fun.
Here are some suggested prop boxes from my course book: Housekeeping, Office, Beach Part, Flower Shop, Bakery, Repair Shop, Veterinarian Box, School Box, Grocery Story, Restaurant, Hair Salon, Sports Shop, Doctor/Nursery Box, Post Office, Police Station, Fire Station, Camping, Dentist, Circus, Nature, Zoo, Carnival. I am sure you can come up with more.
I hope to add at least 4 new prop boxes to our school this year. My idea is for each class to pick a theme, then we will put it out to the parents to help us fill the box. By the end of the time period we have some new boxes.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
When the children are done decorating, let them glue the paper to the toilet paper roll. We used tacky here again. I just think it holds better.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Hi everyone. I am looking for a little help. This coming year at school I want to incorporate working with food much more often. I am keeping an eye out for very simple, maybe even non-cooking recipes, that I can make with the children.
A little while back, a site I visit very often had listed some sites where one can go to get easy kids' recipes. I commented and thanked the person, saying that I was very interested in checking these sites out for the upcoming school year. Well, you know what happened. I thought I saved it, but I didn't. Now I can't find that site with that great list on it.
If you are the person that wrote that wonderful post, could you please let me know. Also, please feel free to leave a great site or recipe in my comments that I could try with the children. We don't have an oven, but I can bring in my toaster oven. We have a microwave, and I will probably be looking into a hot plate. The simpler the better.
I thank you so much for all your help! Trish
Thursday, August 6, 2009
This fun little craft turned out pretty cute so I thought I would share it with you. It IS messy so be ready.
For this craft you will need:
red, green, black paint
large coffee filter (I used a paper towel)
This craft calls to use a large coffee filter. I couldn't find a coffee filter, so I tried a paper towel which I thought would work well, and it did. The first step is to take the article you are using and cut it into a watermelon slice shape.
Now you want to dampen what you are working with. You don't want to SOAK it. Get it wet, squeeze it out, then open it up.
Time to paint. I used my fingers to paint everything--always fun. First paint the green around the edge for the watermelon rhine. It is easiest to paint from the inside to the edge--that way the edge doesn't keep folding in. Next it's time to take the red paint and make the yummy part of the watermelon. Again, going from the center to the edge works best. Finally dipping a finger in the black paint and dotting the watermelon adds some great seeds.
I thought it looked pretty good when it dried. Remember you can't really eat it!