If we are serious about providing our youngest children with the best future, then we really should stop 'faffing' about. Let's start doing it so right we can not be ignored.
Children are the future of this world, they are not OUR future, we will leave them to it when we 'pass', as we all will.
If we want to leave a society that is compassionate, respectful, honest, trusting and not greedy. Free to choose their own direction without harming others. Then we must get on with it - and ensure our youngest are given the opportunity to develop those traits.
Can we do that - with the right determination, OF COURSE WE CAN. We need to join together those who are committed to doing it, avoid embracing the trendy and settle down to focussing on encouraging and developing staff teams to recognise their importance in the role of learning enablers, motivators, encouragers and NOT teachers.
Open ended resources are the essential ingredients that give children those opportunities. Descriptive and not prescriptive opportunities are essential. Risk and challenge without adult inhibition.
If we concentrate on this rather than converting this to curricula, programmes, packages, exams, monitoring and avoid having to have tags that become products (or platforms to products) training courses or conferences we stand a chance.
So I am beginning to think that a loose affiliation of places and people that are doing this would be a good idea. Fancy joining in - EMAIL me at email@example.com who knows (and don't make geography an excuse)
Computer screens i-pods and interactive boards are to be banned in nurseries, schools and reception classes
I wrote recently about my decision not to have screens and 'interactive' boards in my settings and I got quite a lot of response...Some negative and some trying hard to justify the benefits of having them - in moderation and highly controlled.
I then had a little time to consider this (boring story about dodgy knee) and started to reflect on the issue in a more holistic way. What did we do before computers? An old adage that then takes us on to before TV, before radio... Well, just suppose Leonardo da Vinci had parents who allowed him to spend most of his time on computers - or told him what to watch and when to - or his tutors gave him a strict curriculum and sat him inside and not allow him to start anything new until he had completed what he had started....
I am satisfied that TV and computers and phones have changed the way we are - eating in isolation (in front of TV) - not thinking about spelling because spell check does it for you (and it 'understands' so bare and bear are oft misused) or you text and get even more confusing. Socialising is thumb based - and you invite friends round to 'play' on screens without any personal interaction. And if you want to remember anything Google does it for you!
Is that what I want? Is it what you want? In our profession we need to consider how to complement this new world and provide balance. Personal challenge, personal contact, physical activity, sharing and comparing developing care and compassion.
Lets invent, explore, compare and share. Let's not rely on others - let's read books and encourage, let's use our languages to provide a real balance. I know some will say that we need to give children the opportunity to benefit from technology. I agree - but let's get the first years of developing caring and creative brains done first - then they will be more discriminating and share technology with drawing and dancing and running and all the other things they develop when screens etc are not available..
So they won't figure in my education world until children are at least 7.... Shame not everyone can see it...
I was recently with some guests and we were sharing some experiences with the team and children. I was talking with a young (brilliant) team member who was working with a young child who we took on after several nurseries had restricted him as he was too disruptive to one hour a week!
He is on the spectrum and his communication skills were very low. He now, a month in, is very active and communicative and is beginning to sign (a blown kiss is thank you) and we played together for a while. He then climbed onto a stage (about a foot above ground level) and was playing on there. He then wanted to come down and she went to take him and I held her back.... Anxious, he looked a little concerned but, after a while, he realised if he sat down, his feet were about four inches from safety and he wriggled a little but eventually slipped expertly to the floor and was off.... A momentous moment and she and I cried - he learnt, she learnt and we enjoyed a moment of real connection.
I guarantee he will continue to go and grow in an environment where his young friends care and understand AND include him.
And I will continue to encourage and cry.... xxx
Over the past few days I have been 'accused' of a number of things - and a number of questions raised. If 'putting your head above the parapet' is unacceptable then I am just about to enter the realms of the unacceptable.
The mission I follow is to get and give our youngest children the best possible opportunities. I have spent 40+ years thinking, considering, making mistakes, learning, developing, changing and have been influenced by many thoughts and discoveries. I am happy to concede that I am still learning. I also want other people to do the same.
What we should strive for is providing the best opportunities - starting with the sparkle of understanding from us big people and concluding with finding and eliminating the unacceptable.
Accept NO LESS
A dear friend is concerned that most of the 'trends' are started with the best of intentions - then get bastardised- mainly through ignorance or greed. This then waters down the validity of those intentions - and so we seek more and different - rather than confronting the issues and we then accept many of these compromises and exploitations. I have to say I agree with her.
I believe that if you are "Reggio based" - then you don't understand Reggio - if you think computers and screens are acceptable - you don't understand technology and their affect on the brain - if you believe that outdoors is something you do for a few minutes a day and a Wednesday Afternoon in 'a forest'- you don't understand free flow and its importance. If loose parts are bought as packs rather than developed - you don't understand loose parts (nor the economics of develop over purchase).
I KNOW there are a growing number of settings that are moving in the direction of open ended resources, free thinking (owned choice by the child), routines being reduced or eliminated, no screens until 7 years, art studios over a morning art session that gets cleared away, sleeping outside and encouraging risk and challenge, keeping the interiors simple, giving children open access to choose.
I DON'T CARE if these are in nurseries, playgroups, school settings, at home or anywhere else PROVIDED the people developing them are either in this modus operandi or working hard towards it.
I don't want trendy acronyms to mask the chance of parents really seeing what we are doing - honestly and respectfully. 'ITMP' - the acronym for In The Moment Planning - many of us have been following the lead of children for many years IT'S NOT NEW.
I don't want to accept that 'others' - whether OfSTED, Head Teachers, great sales people (for all of those essentials that I see purchased unnecessarily) are holding us back - choose to be different and show how well it works.
Let's make children really ready for school as they develop a passion for discovery and learning (and try to hang on to them at least until they are 5 1/4 - until we finally win the 7 year battle....) and say no to compromises.
Join us if you are committed - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - or come join us at www.internationalplayiceland.com and see what a society who has practiced this for generations has achieved.