Friday, August 14, 2009

See You Soon

Just so you'll know where I've gone . . . we're heading out on our last adventures of the summer over the next 2ish weeks- a few days out to go see my brother, a few day trips, lots of time to swim and soak up the sun while it's here. If only I could bottle it in preparation for the February Blues- you know the ones I'm talking about- the "we haven't been able to leave the house in 2+ weeks because of all the ice and sub zero temperatures" blues.


We'll be back soon!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


In the past week Ender has:


:: started to fill the entire page with color when he draws (instead of scribbling here and there)

:: asked to paint almost every day (this from the child who refused to paint because of the potential mess until very recently)

:: shown tremendous excitement for his brother's potty training successes (I think he's more excited than we are!)

:: Started to reason through the scary things that come along.

:: Asked to sew. And asked again. He's determined to get on my machine and sew all on his own- for now he has to be content to help me with the pedal.

:: Figured out that his brother adores him endlessly and will copy absolutely anything he does. (currently he uses this for good and not evil- how long can I hope that continues?)

:: Decided he's not too big to start and end the day with cuddles from Mama.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reggio Emilia Readings

I mentioned a few posts back about finishing up Working in the Reggio Way and I'm just starting Authentic Childhood. Now that I've had a few weeks to think and journal a bit about the first title I think I'm ready to share some observations.


I really enjoyed reading some of the examples provided about how a project comes to be and the types of things that become projects. One specific note was about children moving into a new space (moving up a level at the beginning of a new school year) and talking about redoing the space to make it their own. The teacher shared art work and projects that previous students had made to create the feeling of ownership in the space and from there the ideas came for how to re-shape the space. The teacher offered some guidance and suggestions, but the process was owned by the students. That is exactly what I'm looking for in our home- ownership of the learning process, but guidance in the right places.


I liked the emphasis on process- the student developed a plan of action, and the teacher was there to assist in the process without actually helping if that makes sense. It was about providing materials and resources along with suggestions of different routes to take, but the actual process was left to the student's choosing. This is the part that brought me to consider Reggio Emilia in the first place- I appreciate the role of the teacher as more of a "facilitator" than a "lesson presenter". Along with this, the examples in the book often illustrated how the teacher used questions to guide the student to a discovery while allowing the student to own the discovery process. The questions were often open-ended (my favorite kind of questions) and it put the student in the position to draw his or her own conclusions.


One of the most interesting points for me was that there was always time given between the first mention of an idea and the next mention- it could be hours, days, even weeks, but there was always time given. A lot of other things I've read have a "strike while the iron is hot" mentality about topics that your child wants to pursue, but this is quite the opposite. Time is given so that both the student and teacher can think on the idea and develop a few thoughts on the subject before moving forward. This makes a lot of sense to me after thinking back over it- quite frequently Ender brings up a topic that we briefly discussed several days or even weeks earlier and he makes connections with something current. That idea of continued conversation even over that span of time seems to occur naturally for him. I like having the time between to think a bit about how much to tell him at one time in order not to overload him.


An example: Back in June during a particularly bad storm we lost power for about 10 minutes. Of course Ender wanted to know why and we had a brief conversation about electricity and how the wires come into our home to deliver electricity. Since then we have had a dozen more conversations about electricity- which things in our house require electricity to run, how electricity is made (particularly after seeing the wind turbines while driving through Iowa last week!), why electricity can be dangerous . . . the list goes on. The conversation has grown more complex as he asks different questions, and I'm learning a lot to keep up with him.


The last and most important information for me was reading about how the project was developed between the child and the teacher. From other reading I felt like the teacher's job was really to stand back out of the picture, but this book gave me a better feel of exactly how hands-on the teacher should be. I've felt like I've been almost in the way of the learning process because of the heavy emphasis on education being solely child-lead in other readings, but reading this book made me feel much more confident about my role in this process.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Am I the only one that gets all glassy-eyed thinking about all the educational possibilities that are out there? I mean, just looking through early childhood things you can make yourself crazy trying to do everything that is worthy to do! There are the unit studies and lapbooks over at Home School Share, the Alphabet Path at Serendipity, the Montessori 3-6 albums and excellent Montessori ideas blogged over at My Montessori Journey, abundant craft ideas collected at the Crafty Crow, Five in a Row, and so many blogs and books that I find myself in a perpetual state of idea collecting.


I finally got around to reminding myself that I am actually a teacher by trade and that I taught preschool for a few years and I *may* have a slight idea as to how to teach my own son! So after reading all the awesome ideas and filing them away in my brain, I went into planning mode- wrote down the basics, copied pages, sorted, filed, and ended up with our general outline for the year.


For My Four-Year-Old


We will be having a "letter of the week" theme. Ender knows his letters and sounds, but I wanted to have something to plan our year around that was predictable for my super orderly child. We will start with A and work in order through the alphabet, using different materials to learn how to form the letters (dough, sand tray, alphabet builders, and writing as he is able). I pulled ideas from all over the place, and I'm planning to share our plans as we work through them. We started with letter A this week and because of a little craziness in my work schedule we're taking 2 weeks with letter A instead of one.


Even though we're using the framework of the alphabet this year, we have plenty of time to take off in more specific directions when Ender has ideas for projects or we find things that interest us. The alphabet is just a guide, projects can come from anywhere at any time!


I plan to include number concepts, though those will be on a more casual basis depending on Ender's interest. We're sticking pretty close to Montessori for our number concepts, and I'll share these as they come along.


We're using the Kumon cutting book and the maze books too- Ender loves mazes, so he's on to his second maze book in this series. He's having a lot of fun with as well, so he's getting a bit of computer time 2 or 3 days a week.


For My Two-Year-Old


In addition to our letter of the week, I've planned some toddler themes for Ezra. Ender really likes to help Ezra learn, so we're going to have some play center themes for the two of them to help Ezra build some vocabulary and to just have some fun!


For Both Boys


My goal is to focus on seasons and holidays- to notice the changes in the trees and plants in our own yard, to watch for signs of the incoming season, to learn a little more about the traditions of our holidays and to notice how life moves with the seasons. This portion is just as much for me as for the boys, but I hope they will have being a bigger part of our seasonal chanes this year.
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