Wednesday, September 2, 2009
During the summer, I read Nancy Carlsson-Paige's "Taking Back Childhood", and excellent and very relevant read for anyone working with young children and for parents as well. The chapter that struck me the most was titled "No more time outs" and my assistant and I decided to re-read it and discuss it after school today. I was very inspired by the idea of removing "time-out" from the classroom for good and finding ways of sharing power with the children.
The following are the points we brainstormed while talking about how to share power with the children:
- To notice what percent of our total communication with the children is afforded to telling them, in one way or another, what to do. Instead: writing the issue down in our observation notebook and giving a lesson on the issue later (showing not telling), invite them to notice what the problem is, have a group meeting where the children come up with solutions to common issues, conflict resolution where children individually come up with solutions to their problem.
- To remember that children at the primary level age, usually focus on one thing at a time. This means that we have to help them through transition times. We figured a system of auditory transition signals to prepare them for transitions in the day (such as going outside before lunch, coming inside for lunch, coming to the circle). We also decided to post next to our calendar a visual day calendar, so that three year olds can refer to it to better understand the structure of our day.
- Be aware of traces of blame or punishment in our tone of voice or way of speaking and substitute these with a calm and loving tone of voice. Especially when helping children resolve a conflict.
- Give and uphold clear limits in the environment. As much as possible, allow the environment to teach the limit. I think clear limits are certainly an aid to children's sense of security and trust. Use grace and courtesy, visual aids, books and any other varieties of reminders to help children understand the limits.
- Listen to their problems and work with them to find solutions together. (There is a child that has been recently very reluctant to come to the whole group lessons, I approached him like this "I need you to be present at the lessons because there are things I will say that I want you to know. What can we do so that you will be in your place when I ring the bell?" And he came up with the solution himself. )
- Involving the group much more during whole group meetings or lessons. Their feedback is an excellent control of error, and involving them in relevant decision making strengthens the group's sense of community.