Last week I challenged others to leave out materials without a learning objective, and without guiding their children or students in any way, and just observe. Change up and even leave out supplies to observe interactions and problem solving. Although Adventure Academy provides intended learning activities there is time set aside for un-planned discoveries. Daily discoveries using toys, manipulatives, art supplies, sensory materials… You discover what children want to learn about and what interests, talents and needs they each have by stepping back and observing.
Sometimes alone and other times with their peers – I find children shine most when parents and providers step back and stop interacting. This doesn’t mean I never interact – I still facilitate guided lessons and of course make time for hugs – but I’ve learned when to step back. Sometimes it’s about a learning objective, sometimes to watch a behavior, sometimes for independence… In our multi-age classroom stepping back often leads to confidence builders as older students help their younger peers.
When an activity was getting a lil’ wild an older student changed up the rules of play today. Later that older student was observed reading a book to a child, but before long had the whole class listening in. After the story the student made up a musical-chair type game that somehow was connected to the story. This student who was once told he would never talk and would remain in special ed proudly exclaimed “I’m the teacher!” But instead of becoming bossy he delegated jobs and encouraged others to lead activities as well.
Sometimes the youngest even leads by pulling out old toys, or by asking a question. Their questions often show current interests. Apparently patterns became an interest with our boat counters as a younger child ask his older friends to help him solve a problem. The boat counters were provided in this months “Bubbles, Boats & Floats” curriculum from Mother Goose Time. Although we use many different curriculums for our program – all ages seem to love the theme based boxes that MGT sends monthly.
Each month Mother Goose Time provides a new theme and also a bonus day of activities such as “Mother’s Day.” Usually I have children use their own ideas to create a individualized gift for mom, but this year we made a simple project included in our box. Most kids loved making their owl’s wing-handprints, but some sensory students problem solved how to make handprints without touching the paint “too much.” Some students problem solved who to give their art work to, as not every child lives with their biological mom.
Adventure Academy has a diverse group of children from special needs to gifted students, we also have a diverse group of families including children that don’t live in a traditional family setting. Some of these students are in foster care and days such as “Mothers Day” are challenging, so we problem solved who is a mother figure in their lives. In trying to be sensitive to all the children and families in our programs we even modify some of our parent/provider programs. Mother’s Day isn’t just hard for some kids – some adults struggle with celebrating.
Children without moms, grown ups without moms… Grown ups who cannot become parents naturally or have lost a child. Mothers Day and Fathers Day and all holidays are sensitive times for many, but we still celebrate. We celebrate who we have in our lives that support us. Mi Families (“my families”) is all about finding supports and resources for all families and those who work with families. Adventure Academy is just one of the programs Mi Families facilitates. If you’d like more information on any of our programs visit www.MiFamilies.com or email Christi@MiFamilies.com.
We are currently scheduling events and enrolling childcare and tutoring students for Fall 2016. If you’d like your child, your family or your program to be a part of our “family” email Christi or find Mi Families on our social media sites: LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube… If you’d like to read future articles please subscribe above. Thanks for reading this article and I hope you have a wonderful Mothers Day weekend! I’m spending mine preparing for our next baby!