Intergenerational Teamwork?

Our success as educational leaders is in the way we continue to model ways we are continuing our learning!

Those with years of experience have much to learn from our digital natives and vice versa…I love thinking about the energy and enthusiasm that the student teachers’ I’ve sponsored represent! I also love thinking about the gifts of being a grandparent.

Judy Ford in her book, Wonderful Ways To Love A Grandchild wrote: “Both generations, relieved of obligation and expectation, are free to fully appreciate and delight in each other as individuals.”

Grandparents and Grandchildren are GIFTS to one another!

  1. Help lighten up AND relax
  2. Stay open to mystery, magic, awe
  3. Help regain the intuition and imagination of our youth
  4. Help widen our view of unconditional love
  5. Help us regain our freedom

Being with a grandchild fills us with hope about the ongoing process of regaining innate sense of endless promise!

An annual “ritual” of cleaning out files at the end of each calendar year, yields itself to a lot of self reflection–especially as I read over my journal entries from the past.  Here are some notes regarding discipline that are worth re-thinking:

 

discipline–from Latin word for teaching

every child is different every family is different, each situation is different BUT there are universal rules of behavior that apply to everyone, at all times

along with each “NO” always offer a “YES” in the form of an alternative

correction and reward work better than punishment–positive reinforcement–rewarding and praising good behavior works much better–it builds self esteem

anger triggers anger     try to remember at moments of high anxiety (it won’t be easy) that your long-term goal is to teach right behavior

discipline can be a laughing matter. Humor is the leavening of life–and a surprisingly effective tool (taking each other less seriously more often will add sunshine to your days)

 

NO USELESS LUGGAGE–if you have packed wisely you have eliminated all

anxiety

fear

evil forebodings

low spiritedness

false responsibility

heaviness of heart

 

 

 

 

How Do We Help Children Learn To Plan? What Is Planning?

I believe that even our youngest children at Learning World Little Step (2 year olds) are capable of expressing their thought process in order to participate in the planning process each day.  Helping children become conscious of this capacity to establish their goal begins by following their lead based on their own interests.

As children plan, they  may use their imaginations beginning to demonstrate understanding that by following their own actions, a result might occur! By planning, we are promoting children’s self-confidence and inner control. Planning also encourages children to articulate their ideas, choices, and decisions. It also supports a development of more complex interactive play where they take on imaginative, productive and creative give and take with others.

Ideally, children continue practicing the skill of planning at home. Once children have a consistent time and place to plan, and actually begin the planning process, they will prove to be competent decision makers which parallel their parents support and understanding that children learn best by following through on their special interests.

How?

Provide paper and a variety of drawing and writing tools. Suggest to the child he draw or write what he plans to do.

Talk with each child in turn about the plan. Remember to anticipate and appreciate a variety of drawing and writing styles–

scribbles, tracings, shapes, designs, figures, letters, etc. Try to note as many connections between the child’s plans and actions which leads to closure and the opportunity for reflection. Planning is just the beginning!

 

Finding Balance?

RESPECT?

Finding Balance?

Respecting the child by giving time and undivided attention?

Here are some notes I had with my husband recently regarding a conversation we had about finding balance and ways to articulate children’s long-term needs. I decided to share this on our Learning World blog as the grandmother that I am, more than as the Center Director for Learning World.  We are all in the process of learning–life has so many new opportunities for us to learn from.  The last six months, I’ve been living in the lower level of my youngest daughter’s home, where I set up a school for the Little Folks in Washington, D.C. My thoughts on this blog entry are a result of a conversation I had with my husband who has remained in St. Louis to complete his work on his Ed.D. in Character Education at the University of Missouri.

Our first question together was:

If a parent, when with a child— perhaps nursing or feeding or doing an activity— is multitasking with a computer or smartphone, the child is likely to be aware of the lack of full attention on the part of the adult. One of my questions  is whether this matters? Does the model for children of not being fully present by looking into their eyes for periods of time, or not being fully engaged in an activity with the child, have a negative effect in the long term?

Is one of the triggers when children “act out” for attention, or whine in disagreement with their parents, a result of not having a basic need for undivided attention satisfied?

Of course, this can be viewed from both perspectives: the child’s point of view—and the parent’s point of view. Parents need to feel their own needs are being met also.  There is nothing more demanding than the care of young children and although we have many books on this subject, they really don’t prepare parents for this imbalance!

What are ways to accommodate the needs of both the adult and the child? If the child needs a certain amount of undivided attention and the adult has needs of keeping income flowing, continuing to do work, etc., I wonder if the goal might be to find a balance so that the child has sufficient undivided attention that the child develops the security and the awareness of their connection with the adult and the adult has the time to complete the work that is needed.

I suppose this question has much to do with how do we show respect for one another.

Balance: giving the child sufficient undivided attention  so that the child develops a sense of confidence in self and awareness of their value as a member of the community and providing time so parents may serve the community by doing the work that they are obligated to do.

The challenge is to put the two areas of responsibility into balance and to eliminate as much as possible all the things that are superfluous. For example if the dad has the responsibility of being on a conference call and the child wants to be with the dad during the time of a conference call there is a dilemma. Prevention of  this dilemma  might be to better prepare for the conference call with the young child more involved.

There is no formula for reaching a balance that meets the needs of the child and the needs of the parent. But there might be some standards and procedures the parents can follow to find this balance.

Talk Together:

One possibility is to talk with a child about the schedule and to let the child know what the needs of the parent are. Of course the child may be too young to describe their needs, but it is the responsibility of the adult to anticipate as much as possible when the child will need full attention and to structure ways to meet that need for full attention.

By talking together, I assume parents will keep their points brief!  Try to explain basic needs in as simple a language as possible.

When a parent explains in child-friendly language some of the details of the upcoming call, then, even very young children feel respected and are willing to give a little time to their parent. On the other hand, the child may use that to exploit the parent by cajoling and throwing a tantrum at the time for the conference call. This is not something that happens without cultivation. The child needs genuine experiences where their needs are respected.

Nurture:

Nurturing Takes Time: Its Organic, Not Mechanical

Think of the children as growing plants, not as machines. Learning is recursive, that until the child grasps and internalizes concepts, its not meaningful.

When we are nurturing parents we are patient parents–patient with ourselves as well as with our little ones.

Pace

Is it possible to adjust the pace set each day to more adequately meet each one’s needs? Isn’t it hard to be rushed out the door, to be on time for school, for instance, when you really have no concept of time! How can parents more fully prepare the children to meet deadlines? Are their some key phrases that could help with this?

Perhaps by saying something like “This is a hurry up time”  or  by singing a favorite song and suggesting that shoes and coat need to be on before we reach the end of Twinkle!

Flexibility

Simplicity

Providing a manageable, age appropriate environment. You don’t ask children to deal with problems they don’t comprehend. With the youngest, you provide choices that are simplified, suitable for the child’s developmental level.

Consistency

Although I am considering this a “standard” I am well aware how difficult it is to be consistent in our day to day dealings with our young folk.  Just when you think you have confidence in your system and schedule, something changes. Change is the constant.

As I consider these ideas, I hope to elaborate more.

When I was away for several months to care for our grandchildren, my husband commented that we weren’t sharing information as regularly and consistently as he had hoped. He suggested that we find a time each day where we could talk. The challenge for me was the times that I was free (nap time, for instance, was when he was often in meetings. and because of the time difference I was usually so tired by 10 p.m. which would be 9 p.m. his time!) He thought we could consider one process —to have the conversations that we need during the day time and to ask the grandchildren’s permission to have a conversation. If we have a conference call and talk about things that are important to us and the child has anything that comes up in the middle of a conversation we can defer to the child’s needs and resume our conversation afterwards, he suggested. He went on to infer that the children benefit by hearing us discuss our ideas together–that this would demonstrate more inclusiveness.

In thinking about his request,

I realized that by asking children’s permission to make phone calls is one small step in being respectful. I also thought about times when I’ve asked the children to tell my husband something they’ve learned or wanted to recite. I’ve been thinking that although it may be kind to talk over possible ideas the child could share on a phone call, I do hope that as much as possible, children are not requested to “perform”. Of course, we grandparents, love hearing their poems, their songs, their recitations, but not after they have been cajoled into sharing these things—capturing the tone and intent of their sharing, is what we really delight in. 

A favorite “Family Circus” cartoon from many years ago shows the mom yanking on her son’s trousers holding him back from running off as she politely speaks into the telephone to her Aunt Nancy assuring her he wants to speak with her! Seeing this cartoon always makes me chuckle, but in reality, the actions bring me discomfort—its hard to be “forced” to have to be “polite” or to do as you are told in those circumstances!

If the grandchildren have the opportunity to chime in on their own free will and say the things that occur to them, we are supporting their ongoing creativity and discovery of independent thinking.

When is it appropriate to have “private conversations” and to care for children at the same time?

Another observation I’ve made is when at the local parks, it is more common to see adults preoccupied with their cell phones than in watching over the children on the play structures.  Of course, this is a natural setting that might be conducive to getting some things checked off the “to do” list while the children play. However, adults miss socialization opportunities for their young ones by guiding and modeling appropriate ways to share equipment, etc.  Playground time is the key time to teach community awareness so why do we ignore this and zone out? It is only after the child has been pushed down the slide or off the climber and has crashed to the ground with wails of cries that the adults abruptly end their conversations, and tend to the little ones. Meanwhile the child never really learns how to take turns, or how to ask if they might play with the ball next.  They learn by being pushed aside and perhaps even, bullied, and the adults around them don’t seem to notice.

If the parent is aware that there can be a balance between using the cellphone and giving the child undivided attention the parent might be willing to sacrifice some of the conversation on the phone for the sake of giving the child needed attention. If the parent can have a sense of joy and excitement in seeing the child develop and grow and thrive in that loving support then the parent may value the time with the child more than the time on the phone.

These ideas for young children can also apply to adolescents because children and all people need to understand their place and value. By communicating what we’re thinking and what we’re doing, both adults and children can build bridges of understanding between their worlds and have the kind of stable relationship that involves both a sense of connection and a sense of freedom.

If the parent and the child both communicate their ideas and needs and plans clearly then the relationship has resilience and stability that enables both parent and child to cope with the changes that inevitably occur in daily life. People have resilience when they understand their needs are important and the pressure of the world is an issue for everyone.

It is possible for parents to find balance between undivided attention for children and living their lives and fulfilling their responsibilities beyond the child. This question of balance is a significant challenge. As with any balancing act you can fall off one side or the other. But there are strategies such as those shown in First Steps in a Grown Up World by Mary Edge Harlan, that give the parent ways to see life from the point of view of the child. (This timeless book written by a Nursery School Director was first published in 1952 and remains a favorite on my bookshelf!)

Children and parents have different needs and to assume that if something is beneficial for the parent, it follows that it will also be beneficial for the child, can be fallacious. We need to have ways parents can communicate and lead the family forward to the mutual benefit of parent and child.

One step that an outsider (someone who is not the main caregiver–a teacher, friend,) can take is to give a perspective that enables the parent to understand more fully how life is perceived by the child.  If an outsider can help the child find voice and help the parent  through the eyes of a child, then the outsider can be a resource who will give the family a greater chance at having a stable and productive relationship.

 Perhaps the key to the work is developing language that expresses the thought of the child in a way that the adults can see the world through children’s eyes

Finding balance between work, leisure, and family is a challenge. What steps can I take to document the way to give voice to the needs of preschoolers and other children, I wonder? 

It will take effort and time to develop the language in a form that parents can fully implement but it’s good work and worthy of the effort. This is the essence of love– seeing from other people’s perspectives– being aware of their needs, appreciating the value of each individual, being joyful in the relationship, and being thoroughly accurate and honest and candid about what’s working and what’s not working in the relationship.

Lyrics, Literacy, and the Love for Singing!

Remember the poem: I wake in the morning early, AND always the very first thing…I poke out my head, I sit up in bed, and I SING and I SING and I SING! (Rose Fyleman)

Observing young children as they develop the ability to express themselves through singing is something I SING about. As a student of literacy since the 1960’s, I am thrilled to read recent brain research which confirms what childhood educators instinctively know about young children: When children are surrounded by shared, fun, musical experiences (including listening and chanting  poetry) they gravitate to writing, reading, and expressing themselves with fluency. It’s a delight to watch!

Join us for the joy of sharing music!

Call for dates and times: 314-359-2161  Ask for “Angela”

 

 

Children’s Experience IS the learning process

Jean Piaget said: “Every time we teach a child something, we keep him from inventing it himself…That which we allow him to discover by himself…will remain with him.”

Discovery is the key word from Piaget that we need to keep in mind when dealing with the learning process in young children. Children are open to learning in different ways on different days, however, providing repetition in order to promote learning is key. The repeated experience must be carefully thought out for its learning to be most beneficial for children. At Workshop, we observe children at “work.” We use our long-range observation as a yardstick of development in supporting individualized growth.

Literacy develops as a result of careful listening and modeling. Children need to have experiences before they attach words to those experiences. They need to know that language belongs to them and to communicate (non verbally and verbally) before they tackle formalized tasks of reading.  Before reading, children need experiences with wind, soil, water, sand, animals and their care, textures, music, concepts of pattern, counting, transportation, community, libraries, grocery stores! They need freedom to DO storytelling through drama, creative dress-up, open ended play. Giving them these foundational blocks with a broad background in language expression and exposure to many genres of literature not only benefits the children but those working with them! Learning together means laughter (and sometimes tears) as much as it is sharing of good books, making beautiful drawings, singing songs.  It is a sense of playfulness that we all need to bring into the process of our everyday learning together.

It has been identified that what we really need in our schools is a sense of belonging, a sense of safety, and to have fun. Retaining our own sense of playfulness  means that we will impart in our next generation of children a stronger sense of optimism about life and living–a sense that we are surely needed, that we belong–a purpose.We think of this at “Workshop” as purposeful, fun play with a high regard for each individual–a respect for each individual contribution. We give children plenty of opportunities to talk–to share their experiences, to summarize their thoughts. Problem solving is a process of learning to listen to one another, to take turns, to converse together, to make friendships.

Experience is, indeed, the central core of the learning process shared by both children and the adults who they love!

 

Learning World Sets Up Classes in DC

Members of Learning World are setting up “Workshop”–a specialized weekday series of programs designed for preschoolers ages 2-5. We hope you will contact our Learning World branch in Capitol Hill to explore with us. We look forward to sharing experiences with you.   Send contact information to Angela@learning-world.org for detailed information–ask about “Workshop!”

Our Mission

Learning-World was incorporated in 2012, in St. Louis, Missouri. Our mission is to provide literacy programs through music, story sharing and movement for the young and the young at heart.  Our international focus utilizes literature and music from around the world. We foster personal growth and enjoyment through participation as we play and dance to international musical themes. 

In addition to our classes, we sell handmade items from third world countries supporting families with young children in their efforts to get an education. Proceeds from our products is reinvested in the promotion of educational activities and products that promote literacy for our young people. We believe that everyone, regardless of ability or talent, is musically literate and capable.

 Building academic and musical literacy skills in families begins with listening and communicating with one another. We believe strongly in  fostering relationships within the family community by creating fun, shared experiences, and that both the individual, the family, and the community benefit. 

HARMONY …in the Making!

I came across this quote from Doug Floyd today, “You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.”

I’ve been thinking about the delightful repertoire of harmonies we sing together in our classes and how each voice contributes such breadth and depth to the melody.  It is just SO MUCH FUN learning together!

A good book that I’d recommend adding to your summer (adult) reading list: MIND IN THE MAKING: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs. It was written by a long time faculty member of the Bank Street College of Education, Ellen Galinsky.

Ellen Galinsky is a leading authority on work-family issues and a former president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (the largest professional group of early childhood educators). One of her many activities as codirector of WHEN WORK WORKS–a project on workplace flexibility and effectiveness–has led to insightful research on how to best meet the needs for today’s family members.  Learning and adapting to each other’s needs is crucial for today’s young families.

In her book MIND IN THE MAKING, Galinsky explores the “essential life skills” that children need to achieve their full potential, take on life’s challenges, communicate well with others, and remain committed to learning. Those life skills are:

Focus and self control

Perspective taking

Communicating

Making connections

Critical thinking

Taking on challenges

Self-directed, engaged learning

These life skills are consistently put into practice during our weekly music classes together as parents and children ages 0-5 are learning alongside one another making beautiful harmony.  We, at Learning World, encourage you to join our Saturday morning classes this Fall, 2015. A free demonstration class will be on August 29, 2015 at  Faith DesPeres Presbyterian Church-11155 Clayton Road, St. Louis, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Come and join our circle of friendship, fun, and harmony in the making!

Recommended Summer Reading?

A few favorites to start the summer reinforcing the delightful singing and rhyming classes we’ve just concluded include:

Jane Cabrera’s Row Row Row Your Boat and If You’re Happy and You Know It!

Bill Martin, Jr. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

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and for older children Dennis Linn’ What Is My Song?

many more titles follow:

Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider, Pancakes, Pancakes and The Very quiet Cricket

Doreen Cronin’s Click, Clack, Moo…Cows That Type and Giggle, Giggle, Quack

Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama

Mem Fox’s Koala Lou, I Do Love You

Audrey Wood’s Silly Sally

to name a few!

 

One Community–One Song?

The May/June 2015 READING TODAY published by the International Literacy Association has an inspiring account of a community wide reading initiative. In her article One Community, One Book, author, Elisa Mayo asked: “Encouraging students to read at school is one thing but can a school encourage reading inside the home with positive, sustainable results?” She told how the school, the homes, the businesses–the entire community bonded by communicating through email, social media, paper brochures, newspaper, and visual arts forming book clubs and discussions at the work place, parks, playgrounds, at schools and community centers. It was a great example of the power of literature to bring people of all ages together and of helping to boost literacy in their community.

What if we could share a song this way? Or a favorite rhyme?  We recently concluded our music classes that started families on a pathway of music development allowing them to embrace, enjoy, and express the musicality expressed by each of us.  Grandparents in the class told me how they loved the bonding. Our youngest children responded to music with recurring gestures (bouncing the torso and waving arms to the beat!) The nurturing of each child’s potential to make music occurred in our rich music-making environment through the tender dispositions–attitudes and life habits–learned from parents and grandparents in class.  Continuing the singing and movement activities done in class gives families multiple opportunities to confidently participate with joy and ease in music experiences for the rest of their lives!  One Community, One Song– ahhh, the Love of Learning!

Musical Language Exploration

One of my goals with classes through Learning-World is to be able to help parents recognize their child’s language and musical responses from the very start of the child’s life! Singing, moving and communicating with little ones begins early with music behaviors such as cooing! Recognizing the child’s earliest attempts at expression, we imitate their sounds, their movements, their communication–which validates and stimulates babies to create more!

Begin with listening for your little one’s vocal responses during play activities–gurgles, vocables, and pitches. Model communication by echoing their sounds! This reinforces  and validates conversations!

 

This month we’ll be focusing on Dr. Seuss books with rhymes and nonsense words to say!

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”