I woke up to snow and realized we didn’t get through our “to do” list yet this week. This last week of October always seems to be a busy one, trying to keep up with work and home life while preparing for winter. Yes it’s still fall, but in the northern mitten we often have winter weather starting up, so as we rake we prepare the yard for the next season. I wont list here how we prepare, but we do need to make a list to conquer the task. Since we have been focusing on language and literacy this month I thought I’d have my boys read my list and then write their own. Their list show insight into what they find important (apparently stocking up on cocoa is important).
Even though my boys have the same parents and experiences they are so different from each other,
and their lists of what is important to them is unique. I love watching my boys develop into their own, explore their own interests and create their own style. As Halloween approaches differences are apparent in what costumes they choose to show their interests and often it initiates conversation of interests for future careers. Costumes give children a chance to play out different roles and problem solve. From pretending to be a zombie to a doctor they conquer fears, learn new skills and strengthen their communication. This is one reason we have costumes available for dress up play year round at Adventure Academy. My boys and the children who join us for child care and tutoring sessions love playing make believe beyond Halloween.
Watching children play make believe is the best way to learn about a child’s interests and observe their needs and abilities.
Observing play is a more accurate way to assess a child then any test. Under army clothes or a princess costume we can enter a child’s world and view the world from their point of view and discover how they handle obstacles and learn new things. Under skins and shells we discover they all have the same basic needs and they all have the same curious minds. We can foster their curiosity through offering more open ended play and times to explore activities instead of preparing formal learning objectives for them. If you are like me and behind on your “to-do” list you may prioritize a certain chore or lesson on your schedule, forgetting that discovery time is just as important to schedule.
Through homeschooling my boys and teaching others I have countless curriculums on hand and want to make sure that all the kids I work with have the opportunity to learn from all the materials available. I often remind myself it’s not a race to a finish line. It’s more important that children have time to fully explore each subject matter before moving on to the next. I know some feel a month long theme is too long, but if you let the children guide such lessons, often a month isn’t long enough as they flow in and out of related topics investigating all surrounding areas. One curriculum we use is Mother Goose Time, which prepares month long units for preschoolers, but the activities are easily simplified for the tots I work with and even the elementary students love having time to research deeper into the subject matters. I also find that refocusing on the basics strengthen their skills.
This months focus “In the Orchard” has provided ample opportunity for my students to work on their reading, writing, math, science, social-studies… through engaging fall activities. Last weeks focus on the orchard animals transitioned nicely into those animals preparing for winter: Do the animals hibernate or migrate? If they hibernate what foods keep them full while they sleep, if they migrate what do they eat along the way … what about the animals that harvest and store their goods? Skins and shells lead to a discovery tub of leaves and pine-needles and acorns and pine-cones… Then other nuts, fruits, berries and of course pumpkins were investigated.
Through art and play the children worked on basic skills counting walnuts, reading chestnut poems, making avocado dip, writing banana names, rolling peach pits … The children enjoyed learning skills and building small and large muscles without realizing they were working – which made my work fun too! We worked hard during our typical daily schedule, but also worked hard when we got off our schedule to enjoy a pumpkin patch party. Even during a playful party we sang songs and played games provided by Mother Goose Time. Thinking it was holiday celebration students didn’t realize they were gaining academic knowledge designing pumpkins and doing math with “Beware of the Bat.” Often our academic games were reused throughout the week in different ways: turning the scarecrow into a patch-match game, turning our pounded pumpkins into geo-boards and dissecting them for science… After the Peter, Peter Pumpkin eater snack every meal had pumpkin faces somehow included (right now they are creating different kinds of pumpkin pizzas).
The best compliment I had this week was a child telling me everyday here feels like a holiday celebration! I do attempt to make each day exciting while planning the activities for Adventure Academy. If your child is here for an hour of tutoring, or a week of care, I try and discover what interests them and how to make them interested in learning about new things. Learning should feel like a celebration. Yes learning is their job, but why can’t we celebrate our hard work and love our jobs? I know I do! If you’d like your child(ren) to celebrate their hard work and enjoy adventures in learning please email me at Christi@MiFamilies.com. Mi Families (“my families”) has many programs for children, their families, and providers that work with families. To network with other families or those who work with families simply like/follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube… every like/follow shows support for our efforts in educational and recreational resources. THANK YOU
(Many of the photos posted are MGT materials. Visit www.MotherGooseTime.com for more information on MGT. Visit our homepage for more information on us! Thanks again)