Topics in Early Childhood Education

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Our cat, Esme, likes to sit by the glass door and watch what is happening outside. I'm sure she is naturally curious because she spends her life indoors. In some ways, watching the outside is like television for the cat. Esme is very curious about everything that happens indoors and outdoors. Young children are very similar. A child's curiosity about the world is natural as he tries to understand and learn about his surroundings. As I have been watching student teaching candidates this semester, I have been observing how some teachers encourage curiosity and interest, but many others do not encourage or even like that basic instinct in children.

As a classroom teacher I always wanted to turn my students on to learning about the world and what they can do with new information. Unfortunately, most public school settings today are so structured around test scores that the child can only sit and wait for the information to be dumped in his head. Dumping knowledge has little possibility of sticking and making a difference in the child's life.

That brings me back to Esme and her interest in the world around her. I leave the wooden door open (even when it's cold) so that she has the opportunity to look at the world through the glass storm door and satisfy that basic curiosity. Watching safely behind the glass will make sure that curiosity will not kill this cat! Allowing children to be curious and ask questions will not kill the desire to learn, but encourage the interest to grow and continue.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Connecting the Dots

I am attending the annual NAEYC Conference in Anaheim. I always enjoy this conference because it is wonderful to see such a large group of people come together to learn what are the best practices when working with young children. One of my favorite stories is The Dot by Peter Reynolds. Vashti, the young girl in the story, learns how a simple dot can lead you on a creative and exciting journey. I feel the same way when I attend conferences. I have been attending workshops and trainings for over 30 years and you might think that I have heard everything by now. It is just the opposite. I think I am just beginning to really 'get it' about working with young children. I made a goal early on that I would make a strong effort to learn at least one new thing at every conference that would make me a better teacher. That goal has helped me develop better teaching skills as an early childhood educator and now as an adult educator teaching students to work with young children.
One example of this happened to me years ago when my school district sent me to a math workshop at Boise State University. Most of the workshops were labeled K-3 and did not have much content for me as a kindergarten teacher. However, I did learn to make little journal books at that conference. I used those books continually in my teaching from that point on and they became a major tool for teaching children to think and be creative. For me that long 3-day workshops was work every minute and dollar spent. It made me a better teacher by teaching me about a very useful tool. Those of you attending conferences and workshops should make a goal to find something that will profoundly improve your teaching and learning.