Guest blogger – Denielle Berube – Registered Early Childhood Educator is sharing her recent documented learning story. She is an educator for 6 years and recently left the toddler age group and shares her new experience and lessons learned in the before & after school Kindergarten program. This is her story. – Debbi Sluys
What happened was I left my little toddlers to go play with the big kids! I traded my Old McDonald for Pete the Cat…My 5 little Monkeys have now grown into 13 little bit bigger Monkeys, building their own obstacle course and making up their own rules to the game!
There was one thing that came as a shock to me during this age time warp transition: that was the connection. My toddlers were was so receptive to me; their connection was quick and warm. With the Kindergarten children by the time I got them at 3:30 PM they were ready to play! Fair enough…but where is OUR connection? How was your day? What’d you do? “Nothing” was what I got, just like most parents get when they ask their children about their day.
After some brainstorming I was sure that a trip to the library for some new books would draw the children in! Team meetings were set in place every day at 3:30 PM. Reading a new book and getting a chance to talk about their day, with hopes of discussions of a plan for the afternoon. This lasted almost a week, it was very clear that a formal sit down meeting was NOT what they were into.
It was at this moment I remember feeling homesick for my book loving Toddler friends, it always worked for them! It could be pure ciaos with the Toddlers and all I’d have to do was sing a song or read a book & they were under my calming spell. But no, not my FDK kids… “Give them what they want” was ringing in my head. So I did just that.
WHAT IT MEANS~
It’s been 4.5 months of being in the FDK room and I feel like we have an authentic family like connection. This, to me, is a very important part of a relationship. We’ve established an understanding of capabilities & our boundaries. I know that I can ask my FDK’s to wash their hands and set the table for snack. (Social 1.4 Helping Skills) They do great! Also, it gives me some time to help get some of the other children settled into to the room. They know their only allowed 2 servings & almost always ask before taking more. That’s love & common courtesy. (Social 1.5 Empathy)
We talk a lot about team work. So, if we all take responsibility for our own belongings, messes and hygiene, then life is just easier. But sometimes the job is too big and we need help. (Emotional 2.1 Self-concept) This is when I encourage children to ask a peer for help. (Communication, Language and Literacy 3.3 Conversing with Peers and Adults) Helping a friend in need strengthens relationships; and that is exactly what we’ve done. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses because we all affected by them both so like families do we celebrate each other’s successes and help one another rise above or work on our weaknesses.
When we first started out together we played a lot of board games The Conflict Resolution & Social Problem solving skills, (Social 1.2) Mixed with Positive Attitudes towards Learning, such as Persistence, Engagement, Curiosity and a Sense of Mastery, (Emotional 2.6) was a strong recipe for our team building skills! Go team GO!
My FDK kids…I don’t think you see how far we’ve come. When I listen to you play together, building with blocks or in the dramatic center. You’re coming up with plans of play, who’s doing what or being who. (Conversing with Peers & Adults 3.3 Communication, Language and Literacy) I hear a give and take (Self-Regulation, Cognition 4.1) It all makes me feel SO proud….& connected!
OPPORTUNITIES & POSSIBILITIES~
Now that we’ve got a good foundation I’d like to start digging a bit deeper. I’d like to challenge the children with their play by adding some “real materials” to our program like: hammers, nails, glass and dirt. I feel like I know the children well enough to slowly introduce such mature items to the room.
I’m also excited to become more a part of their play; in a sense of being a co-investigator, co-learner, and co-planner rather than a director. This is something I got to do with my toddlers but not on a deep level like I know my FDK’s will go to. I’m sure that I’ll even learn a thing or two with these big kids. I’m excited to take this relationship to the next level. Getting messy through exploration, play & some Inquiry!
” A relationship is not based on the length of time you spend together; it’s based on the foundation you’ve built together.”