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How children really like to learn.

It came to my attention the other day, when my boys( I can have as many as 14 boys and only 3 girls in my classroom at the same time) or all boys(ouch), that when they are engaged (actively learning) they drive or motivate their own questions, ideas, and learning. When I put out something so exciting and new, they are so busy, happy and often ask HOW MUCH MORE TIME DO WE HAVE TO PLAY?One  seasoned teacher told me if the children asked, “Is this right? is this what you want , am I done yet? that isn’t engaged learning.  If I have to ask the child to come over, sit still,  listen, pay attention, and so on, they aren’t learning!  I often reflect on this ideas when the boys are unfocused or wild. How has my classroom management of learning been that day?  It is difficult to really understand HOW to teach children without  xerox sheets, letter tracing, coloring, notebooks, rote memory tasks, but believe me once you understand, the classroom is filled with excitement, happiness, energy and fun for the teacher.

I have so many boys this year, I thought it would be so hard- instead I have taught engineering and math concepts of weight , structure, balance and volume. We have planted a garden, tasted, smelled and pressed everything from mint to lavender. We happily paint everything including rocks, wood and aluminum foil.  We built structures that are as tall as the TEACHER and zoom cars through WRAPPING PAPER  tubes. My classroom is always a mess! It is always loud.  It is always filled with happy children!

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Look what happens with a tub of water, various items that sink or float, tongs and a net. The children asked for  more tubs. I added a touch of food coloring for each tub to be different colors and different sized items in each tub. I used a 2 minute or 3 minute timer, which one child controlled.  One tub had colored styrafoam balls,stones, jewels and rocks. One tub had animals and heavy alligators, the tub you see in the photos had  ping pong balls that float and  fish that sank. Sorting and scooping  lasted most of the morning. Then they drew what they got out of the  colored tubs.  It is a portfolio sheet under SCIENCE discovery.

A few years ago I studied the results of children who learned in a happy active learning environment. As a whole the results showed the  child’s learning is stronger and they tend to remember more if it is learned in  a pleasant environment, they tend to forget the information that was forced or taught in a negative way, often blocking out all of the information. The memory imprint is stronger and retained at a high level when the child is relaxed and having fun.  Indirect  learning then becomes even more relative to a preschool teacher with her students- make it meaningful and they will learn.  We, as teachers and parents,  are all so worried about our competitive world (meaning kindergarten) that we over do the child’s initial phase of learning.  We forget that building  a strong initial foundation comes  from SELF MOTIVATION and SELF DIRECTED learning.  This doesn’t mean each day is not planned, in fact you need to understand the needs of your classroom even more. You need to build the early educational  foundation within the interests of your children and diversity.  Understanding your state  STANDARDS, driving motivation, building trust and  recognizing strengths and weaknesses in your class will help you build interesting lesson plans.

On Monday go into your class with a happy perspective and enlighten your children- SHOW THEM SOMETHING INTERESTING and see what happens. What questions do they ask, do they ask for additional supplies or materials, do they invent other activities to go with what you brought?  Look at life from the child’s viewpoint.  You will be more relaxed  and enjoy the children more.


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New teacher Tools – Portfolio and Brain Train tool box

IMG_2797 IMG_2800 IMG_2798 IMG_2796 IMG_2793I made a tool boxes and portfolio packets to help new Preschool teachers in my community, it comes with a BRAIN TRAIN booklet full of cheap and simple ideas. It all seems so easy to me , but these teachers use it as it relates to their teaching ideas, it is like being in a teacher support group.  The PORTFOLIO is full of teaching lesson plan ideas that relate to early learning standards in Arizona and NAEYC. The Brain Train booklet is a booklet of fun ideas for parties and holidays.  All are supplemental pieces for your classroom. With the certification of Early Childhood teachers   state standardization, teaching preschool  has become more developmentally appropriate and difficult. Between assessments, academics, developmental ISSUES, the preschool teacher is often overwhelmed.  We need tools that help us focus on teaching the young child NOT mastering paperwork.  Teaching the young child, if done correctly becomes a satisfying achievement.  I put a couple of example pages, the children can see the pictures and understand the task. They think they are reading, and they are- from pictures. I put fill water bottles with colored water and let the children make their own imagination bottle- pipe cleaners, beads, glitter, sequins, and so on- then the children color copy it into the portfolio.  It is an easy science experiment- the children often pour colors together to make  new colors with funnels. It can be extended for several developmentally tasks and learning concepts.  The portfolio is a progressive sampling of the child’s work throughout the year.

Best book to read to understand child development, milestones and  early childhood education:

“DEVELOPMENTMENTALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICE”, in Early Childhood Programs serving children birth through age 8

third edition, by Carol Copple and Sue Bredekamp

Every preschool teacher should use this book and understand the developmentally milestones.

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