Topics in Early Childhood Education

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Finish Line

I ran my first half-marathon on Saturday. I just have one thing to say, "13 miles is a long way!" I try to avoid driving 13 miles. My daughter-in-law encouraged me to run the race with her and it was fun to have company. At times during the race I felt like I could conquer the world. At other times I felt every year I have passed on the age calendar. As I was running, I thought about how close running a race is to actual life. At times you can run with others who will encourage you along the way. There are other times when you need to go it alone (my daughter-in-law and I parted company after 6 miles). The most important factor, however, is to keep going so that you make it to the finish line.

We early childhood educators are doing just that for young children. We should be helping children become resilient and strong enough to sometimes 'go it alone.' If we teach them well, they will not only succeed during their alone times, but may help others along the way. My daughter-in-law helped me get started on Saturday so that I could stick to the task and make it to the finish line on my own.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Classroom Management

I was instructing my student teachers this week about setting up a classroom to avoid negative behaviors. I often use information learned from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) at Vanderbilt University. I mentioned in earlier posts that I was trained by the center when we were working on social and emotional strategies in Head Start. We saw a marked increase in the ability of teachers to curtail negative behavior in the classroom, when they used the strategies suggested by CSEFEL's research.

This past week we were talking about classroom setup and how important it is to have a well thought-out schedule and a concrete way for children to know what is expected during the day. I love having a schedule in the room (horizontal and visual for PreK-2), but I also mentioned the success I had using a 'Center Board,' similar to the commercial one you see above. Children in classrooms which are set up in centers can identify what centers are open and available for the day. I've seen a form of this used in upper grades, as well, showing the children visually what activities/assignments they need to work on for the day.

I think a center or assignment board, coupled with a solid posted daily schedule helps children feel stable in the setting. Stable children do not exhibit negative behaviors as often as children who don't know what is going to happen next (CSEFEL, 2006).