We’re using our senses to find signs of spring around Adventure Academy. The last of the snow piles have melted and April showers will soon bring May flowers. We’ll smell the flowers that bloom, listen to the songs of birds … we’ll make art projects showing off the signs of spring. We can use all 5 senses as artists while creating projects, dancing, singing, putting on puppet shows, playing pretend, pretending to cook – actually cooking… I find that using every sense – every day is the key to unlocking the mystery of how each child learns, what they enjoy and what they struggle with. Art shows us their needs, interests and talents. Art makes students smart!
There are many programs that promote academic success, yet long term research shows that academic focus doesn’t equal success. In fact studies show kids who have more time to play, explore and create are more successful in the long run – then their peers who sat at desks focusing on Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. That doesn’t mean Adventure Academy avoids the 3R’s – we incorporate ALL subjects into our daily learning, but do so with more than paper and pencils.
We use paper and pencils and crayons and markers and paints and chalk and scissors and hole punchers and glue and tape and rulers and tools and toys and books and blocks and matchbox cars and dolls and puppets and dress up clothes … We use the world around us to teach basic skills and discover new ideas. We discuss ideas and question everything. We allow younger children to observe older children researching topics and allow older children to play house. Our students aren’t defined by age or grade, but by their interests and abilities.
Even students with disabilities thrive when you focus on what they are interested in and what they can do. We build on what they can do. We build on what they want to do. We encourage them to try what they believe they can’t do … it’s about exposure and growth, process before product. We don’t expect growth to happen overnight, but sometimes it does! Sometimes a child who has sensory issues and never has touched the playdoh suddenly decides that today they will! Sometimes a child with many labels surprises you when they are given the confidence.
Art builds confidence. Art doesn’t mean a cookie-cutter project where each child has the same materials and creates the same result. Art is exploration of materials and defining how you’ll use it to create a masterpiece. Sometimes it’s good to offer the materials with a set of directions to see if the child is able to complete the task, if he or she can perform a non-preferred activity, if they can only perform an activity with guidance and specific steps … Materials and supplies help us understand where the child is developmentally and academically.
It doesn’t matter where they are compared to their peers – it’s about understanding where they are so you can help them build confidence and encourage continual growth in new areas, in new subject matters, in new challenging situations… Art helps encourage one to challenge themselves. Art helps encourage one to encourage another and see another’s perspective. Art teaches us that everyone is different and different is good. We can learn from each other. We can share our ideas and our interests.
I enjoy using theme based curriculums (like Mother Goose Time) because it dives deeper into topics and builds on interests. This month we’ve been exploring bees and butterflies (with our MGT kit) and watched as spring topics grew into a sharing of what interests each student. Just as the butterflies morph and change each child was observed changing and growing with the theme. Children not only learned diverse subject matters while exploring the theme, but also shared what they were learning as the month progressed.
Each month we chart what we know, what we want to know and what we learned about during throughout the theme. As we transition to new themes I’m able to learn from my students how they learn best and therefore how to teach the new topic based on what they share with me. The information shared has shown me they learn best when they are enjoying the topic and they enjoy the topic most when they have time to learn through their senses. If you know a child who’d enjoy sensory based learning email Christi@MiFamilies.com.
Adventure Academy is Mi Families (‘my families’) child care and tutoring program. Mi Families has more programs for children, their families, their parents and providers – check out at www.MiFamilies.com for more information. Network with some of our leaders and members by following us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube … Subscribe above for our article updates to see what adventures we have next as participants explore spring in Northern Michigan. Next week we’re exploring earth art …