Topics in Early Childhood Education

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Need to be Twins

I went to my granddaughter's class for grandparents day this past week. We had a great time. I have another little friend in my granddaughter's room. The school is year-round and my granddaugher has changed schedules (tracks) this year. With all of the that, this little friend has been in her class every year since kindergarten (they are in 2nd grade this year). I was immediately drawn to this little guy in kindergarten because he was struggling with all the basic skills. I was a bit concerned when I asked the teacher about him. Her response was that he, "just didn't know anything," as she rolled her eyes. I took offense to how flippantly she dismissed the situation. I went back to my son's home and told my daughter-in-law that I would love to live closer so that I could tutor this struggling boy in reading.

Not much has changed in two years. He was the only child in the class without a grandparent or parent with him last week. Of course, with my granddaughter's permission, he became part of our family for the activity. We played bingo and I was distressed as my granddaughter read every word on the card and he could not decode even the simplest word.

I went home and looked at my schedule to see if I had 3 hours (travel time and tutor time) to devote several times a week to this child. Unfortunately, with supervising student teachers this year, I just can't find that amount of time.

I feel the same distress I felt when one of my grandchildren had a very poor teacher a couple of years ago. It shouldn't be this way. We must support the children while they are in these crucial early childhood years. I think I need a clone...or maybe several.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Open Classroom

I have the opportunity to supervise student teachers this school year. I've always wanted that assignment. I thought I was well-suited for it since I had numerous student teachers when I was a classroom teacher and I have supervised classroom teachers several times. One of my assignments is a school called The Open Classroom. When I visited for the first time last week, I was thrilled. Talk about using early childhood strategies! The entire school is built around hands-on experiences, working together, parent participation and creating a learning environment throughout the school. It was wonderful to walk into a fourth grade classroom and see tables instead of desks!! There were also several parents as well as the teacher and the student teacher. The school was friendly and inviting. Even the children in the hallway greeted me with a smile and a hello. The principal was just returning from outside where they were making the most of the learning environment while out at recess. The principal told me, "Every situation is a learning opportunity. Whether we are outside, in the hallway, or actually in the classroom. Anywhere the student might be is a teaching moment."

I'm so excited to visit this school this year. It reflects my personal philosophy about education and educational settings. This is how I ran my kindergarten and first grade classrooms. What a joy to see these basic child development strategies embedded throughout an elementary school. I have always been convinced that a child will always learn more when he enjoys the environment and is met on his developmental level.