Friday, October 28, 2011

when it's important

Ahhhh, Four.  Four is my enigma kid.  I know Seven inside out--he is me--thinks like me, reacts like me--sometimes I feel like we can read each other's thoughts, or at least we know each other's "looks".  Four is so different.  I often find myself in situations with her where I have to just pause because I am so dumbfounded as to what the heck the trajectory of her thinking is or just simply what she is trying to communicate.  But today I figured something out, and it's something that relates very much to all children, and "doing".  It's something I's essentially the role of engagement...anyways, here it is:

I am constantly tearing my hair out over Four's complete lack of regard for her toys, clothes, posessions in general.  Out of the four of us that reside in this household, FOUR is solely responsible for the majority of things broken, damaged, misplaced, lost, and just plain leaving things all over the place.  She is my sunshine and I adore her every breath, but truth is truth.  She changes outfits at least 4 times a day, which is comical because despite producing the majority of laundry, she is actually  running around the house in her undies most of the day.  Many of the wardrobe changes involve her collection of princess dresses, and her new Rapunzel dress is a daily favorite.  The dress came straight from Florida via Grumpy and will also be her Halloween costume, so I have been cringing every time she's wearing it, in fear of the certain damage it will undergo before the official wearing of the costume for tricks and treats.

We had a Halloween party today--very messy business, and so when the dress came out, I immediately shook my head and as always in this recurring situation, I said, "That dress is going to be destroyed by Halloween."  Then someone commented on the good quality of the dress--(and believe me you pay for that in Disney!), and I stopped for a moment and realized the dress was still in near perfect condition.  hmmmm.....

It is well-made and good quality--worthy of the price.  But that isn't the only reason it has upheld it's new condition.  It's Four who has been careful to hang it up every night--it's the one dress I never find lying around.  And it's Four who the other night asked if she could change while she ate her spaghetti so "my new dress won't get dirty".  And now that I think about it, there have been several instances where she was wearing the dress, and then of her own accord, changed outfits before diving into something messy. This is not typical behavior for Four, so what's the difference?  The dress is important--to her.  And not only that, it's important that the dress stay clean and beautiful and undamaged.  She wants it that way, and is aware of and willing to do what it takes to maintain the dress' condition.  She has other belongings that are important--very important--take ghung-ghung for example (her stuffed cat--basically Linus' blanket).  It doesn't matter if ghung (spelled phonetically) gets dirty, as long as she's always there, but the dress is important in a different way.  It's like a prized possession, a has different status.  And the way it's important to her is what motivates her to take great care of it and to love it in a special way.

I know, I's a dress, but it also serves as a good example of something present in all kids, really, all learners--regardless of age: when it's IMPORTANT, it's worth doing.  So I'm thinking about that in terms of learning to read, practicing math, listening, creating, investigating....and becoming responsible for personal belongings.

always something new to learn, always a new way of seeing the world....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

progress update

Nature class is going soooo well!  We've had lots of talks about feeling nervous around new kids, and Seven is definitely adjusting and exhibiting so much enthusiasm for these classes!  He's learning so much too--new vocab, understanding food chains, habitats, and using journalling as a tool for observation and study.  LOVE IT!!!  Same with swim class--making lots of progress--Four went completely under water and was so proud of herself!  I am just so grateful to be sharing these moments with them!

Another exciting development is Seven's reading--yes, he's reading!  He's still in the emergent stage, but is showing more interest and finally PRIDE as he recognizes words and reads familiar texts.  This is such a tricky issue for me, as I have to keep myself in check--the public school teacher thinking, "where should he be by state standards?" and the TEACHER, knowing that in the most literate countries in this world, formal reading instruction begins just about now (ages 7 and 8), and that the most critical aspects are confidence and motivation.  When parents talk about their 3 year olds that are reading, it's nice, but I also know that the overwhelming majority of those readers plateau at about this age, and read at the same grade level as their early start peers.  So is there an advantage to early reading?  Maybe in some ways, but at what cost?  What parts of the brain are NOT developing because they are so focused on reading skills?  We never ask that question in public ed, and it's a really important one to consider.  There are clear deficits in our students--yes, even early readers, executive function is a big one--HUGE actually, and I am not afraid to say that more attention to the development of other parts of the brain (rather than the sole literacy focus), would serve all students much better.  But I'm sure the federal and state policy makers know better, right?  And of course, the big corporations that make zillions off reading programs are only motivated by their deep desire to help kids learn to read--not the fat checks they collect from school districts as they update their "perfect, one size fits all" programs in a box.  HA!

So we are reading, and working on measurement, number sense, scientific observation, recording data and using it to learn about living things, and we are playing--A LOT.  And through this play, I am assessing growth and learning, in a way I just could never do in a classroom of 20+ primates.

Today we are continuing our fall celebrations with a focus on Halloween--my favorite holiday!  more later!

Here are a couple visuals from recent adventures:

celebrating fall in the city--yes, we have leaf piles too!

observing geese at the apple orchard