Sunday, 22 April 2018

The story of a pocket...

Pockets... I love them... as do my two daughters... but seldom do we get decent pockets in our clothes, compared with the pockets of my husband and son. In fact when we do get a garment with a decent pocket  it is always commented on with great joy... especially in skirts and dresses.

I mean what is up with fake pockets? Why bother? And why are pockets nearly always so much smaller?
Of course you don't have to spend many minutes to read all about the history of pockets and how it is about power, the men being in control of the money etc and about how women look rather than practicality.

BUT that this should all impact young children's clothing too seems ridiculous... girls just as much as boys like to collect things and save them in pockets... there is no gender difference in this behaviour - maybe from child to child, but I have not seen a difference between boys and girls during all my years of working with young children.

I have seen, both boys and girls, fill their pockets with so many things that their trousers would no longer stay up.
My daughters, when they were toddlers, loved pockets and always stuffed them with things... and if they lacked enough pockets they used the body they wore under their clothes as a giant pocket... so many times the staff at their preschool would giggle and hand over a supply of pretend food and other toys that they found stuffed down my children's clothes when their nappies were being changed.

Why are children being dressed in mini-adult clothes? Why not let them be the children that they are? That the size difference between boys and girls should not differ in the way that it does... if you are 104cm tall regardless of gender, then the clothes should fit that height... not be shorter and tighter for a girl.

I ended up buying a great deal of boy clothes for my girls - partly because they were tall for their age, so I got better value from the clothes... and also realised those clothes were less flimsy and held better for climbing and play than girl clothes... which makes sense because at that age children regardless of gender are playing in pretty much the same way... until society informs them that they should not be.

I got called out by a 5 year old girl about my choice to wear super hero t-shirts - saying that spiderman was for boys... and that meant i was a boy. I simply answered that anyone can like spiderman and that I was most certainly still a girl. Within a week the girls in the group (that overheard the conversation) were coming with spiderman caps and t-shirts - as well as other superheroes. I also went out and bought myself more superhero t-shirts to really emphasise that superheroes are for anyone who likes them. I would also like to point out that most of my t-shirts are men's t-shirts... as the women ones are always too short and fitted... now I don't mind fitted... but they don't fit my body... the waist is always too high - and I really like my t-shirts and tops to not just meet my jeans/trousers but to be of a length I can tuck in on cold days. Oh and don't even get me started about superhero underclothes... all my superhero socks come from the men's section and finding underpants for women with superhero motifs is not so easy as it is for men... but I am going off track now...

This is all makes me think of the book "Experiencing Reggio Emilia: Implications for preschool provision" edited by Lesley Abbot and Cathy Nutbrown where there is a chapter called "Sunniva's extra pocket" by Caroline Hunter. A teacher, parent of children at preschools in Reggio Emilia, and then translator for Reggio Children. In the chapter she describes her experience as a aprent of children attending preschools in Reggio Emilia and she agreed with Malaguzzi's statement that her children were given "extra pockets" to dip in when needed later in life... 

Amelia Gambetti wrote
In Reggio Emilia we have the highest quality kinds of materials we can find, not so that the children can become geniuses but so that they and we have many opportunities to discover their learning processes and their abilities to think. I believe that when you give this to children when they are so young, when you empower them in their thinking, it stays with them forever - as Malaguzzi used to say, like an extra pocket. They understand the power of their intelligence.(Understanding the Reggio Approach: Early Years Education in Practice. Linda Thornton, Pat Brunton 2005)
But my question is - if society is giving bigger pockets to boys and often fake pockets to girls... we need to be aware of this extra pocket that is being provided and that it does not mirror social stereotypes. That these pockets are ample enough for all to stuff their experiences, thoughts, reflection into regardless of gender.
Consider this quote from esteemed designer Christian Dior in 1954, reported by the Spectator, "Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration." The Wierd and complicated sexist history of pockets
 If we want to empower children we need to make sure that the extra pocket is not for decoration but is substantial enough to fill.

Below are some more links to read about connected to this thinking.

for some reason we take away the pink and the princess - as if this pinkness is the problem. Choosing to wear pink and choosing to be a princess is not a problem... ONLY if it is the only story that is being offered to what girls should connect with.

yeah, my son caused quite a stir in a small French town when he wanted to wear a pink skirt to dance in... as his big sisters always wanted to dress up for dance, it made perfect sense for him too. As well as green glitter shoes at preschool until he got told by other boys there that green glitter is not for boys only for girls... he refused to put them on again... despite support from the teachers at the setting and from home...
IF schools and preschools are not working with these ideas and exploring gender stereotypes actively than the damage is done. Its not enough not to talk about it, and to be gender neutral... we HAVE to talk about... have the stereotypes and allow them to be available to all the children, to explore and discover the joy of play.

part of the International Fairy Tea Party is to also break down barriers of gender stereotypes... that fairies are not just for girls, that boys enjoy magic and flying too... that fairies are not just girls with pink tutus... 

 you could read this text about the history of pockets from The Victoria and Albert Museum

five unexpected gender differences in children's clothes

The sneakily sexist food messaging in kids clothing

and from pockets to pocket money... gender differences

International Fairy Tea Party - facebook page

Friday, 20 April 2018

Undervisning i förskolan - del 4

Nu är det dags att återvända till min läsning av Skolverkets publikation om Undervisning i Förskolan.  Under den senaste veckan har mycket hänt här hemma min dotter är nu "officiellt" har diagnosen autism... men den kallas för aspergers igen... något som BUP berättade inte fanns längre 4 år sedan när min son fick diagnosen autism/ADHD. Jag frågade varför och det visa sig att samhället hänger inte med, så dom har bestämt att återvända till aspergers så att alla förstå.
Inte att jag tycker att alla förstå hur man ska bemöta högfungerande autistiska barn bara för att man kalla det aspergers igen. (eye-roll)

När jag undersöka ordet undervisning jag har alltid detta med mig... hur skapa vi en undervisning som är tillgänglig för alla. I kapitlet "Undervisning i förskolan - ett kvalitetsperspektiv" av Sonja Sheridan och Pia Williams står det
Det förutsätter att förskollärare har kunskap om varje barns förutsättningar för lärande, deras kunnande och förändrade kunnande, liksom behov och intressen. Detta eftersom de behöver veta vad barnen kan och hur de förstår något för att kunna leda dem i deras fortsatta lärande. (s54) 
Men under alla mina år har jag träffat gång på gång en brist av förståelse för hur npf barn lär, förstå och upplever världen runt omkring. Jag upplever att både inom lärarutbildning för förskolan och skolan det finns inte tillräckligt mycket tid eller kunskap som kan förbereda lärare för att kunna erbjuda högkvalitet undervisning för alla barn, bara dom neuro-typiska barnen dvs normen.

Man behöver inte läsa länge innan man inser, eller få läsa orden - om man anpassa undervisning/verksamheten för npf barn gynnar det alla barn. Man sänker inte nivån för att erbjuda en tillgänglig förskola - det blir bara mer tydlig för alla. utifrån detta borde det finnas mycket mer tid under lärarutbildningen för att kunna förstå barn med autism, ADHD och andra diagnoser, tillstånd osv där en brist av förståelse för att anpassa skapa hiner för barnen i deras lek, lärande och utveckling.

Det är en daglig frustration att se hur min son blir uppfattad på ett sätt under sina förskoledagar och nu skoldagar... som skiljer enormt med hur folk utanför skolan uppfatta honom. Förskolan var inte roligt - dagligen fick jag höra saker om hur han hade inte gjort det, eller hade reagerat så, eller sade det... alltid något negativ, aldrig någon förståelse för att han faktiskt hade svårt... alltid när jag frågade om BUP fick jag svaret nej det är inget fel med honom... så till slut jag struntade i förskolan och sökte själv till BUP... sedan han var 2 år jag misstänkte antingen autism eller ADHD - men var inte riktigt beredd för både två.
Jag vet att förskolan vill vara snäll. Dom vill inte sätta på en etikett... men problemet var att dom kunde inte bemöta min son heller för att dom vägrade läser instruktionerna... om du fatta vad jag menar.
När han var 5 år fick han en ny lärare... när jag hämtade honom hon berättade om dom roliga saker som han hade gjort under dagen. Jag grät. Hon tittade på mig något förvånad... så jag berättade att det var första gången jag hade hämtat och fick höra något trevligt om min son istället för att höra om hans misstag.

Sexårsverksamheten var hur bra som helst. Pedagoger som såg min son som han är.
Skolan... bleh... det är en helt annan tragisk historia som vi fortfarande försöka handskas.

Men jag undrar... hade han haft pedagoger på förskolan som hade vågat bemöta honom och acceptera honom... nej, det är inte a frikort för att bete hur som helst... men man kan inte förvänta att ett barn med autism/ADHD att kunna reagera på samma sätt som normen heller... man måste göra anpassningar som underlätta.

Till exempel, jag jobbade med en pojke som klarade inte av att bli blöt (förutom när man badade eller tvätta händerna... så länge man inte skvättade).  För att undvika meltdowns på regniga dagar tog jag in honom först innan golvet blev blöt, jag tog av alla hans yttrekläder (trots att jag visste att han kunde vanligvis) och lyftade honom till en torr plats innan resten av gruppen fick komma in... vi berättade för alla, alla barn kunde förstå och vill hjälpa till, pojken vill också ha den förståelse - det var mycket mindre pinsamt att få lite hjälp än att skrika okontrollerbart i 30 minuter. Jag såg till att det finna badrumsmattor där vi tvättade händerna så att det blev inte små pölar på golvet för att barn skvättade eller lekte med vatten - jag kollade regelbundet för att se att det var torrt och stressfi - alla barn uppskattade detta.
Vid lunch och någon skulle spilla vi alla hjälpte till för att se till golvet var torr.
Under lek situationer jobbade vi med hans flexibilitet kring att blir blöt - inte under vardagen... men under lek när han var inte det minsta stressad... eftersom övergånger är en stress i sig. Det fungerade. Bit för bit hade han mer kontroll, vill själv ta av blöta kläder osv.
Han fick alltid skrika så länge han vill... skrik och meltdowns är inte ett problem för mig... men jag ser att dom komma i vägen för barnens egen lek och interaktioner med andra.

Men jag har tur. Jag har mycket erfarenhet med barn som inte passa in i normen. Hemma och på förskolor där jag har arbetat har vi försökt skapa en bredare norm istället för att ändra barnets beteende.
Jag vill stödja varje barn och varje barngrupp för att kunna uppnå deras potential - och det kräver att jag har "kunskap om barnens förutsättningar" och hur jag ska bete mig för att bemöta varje barn på rätt sätt. Samt hur jag ska ändra miljön och vilka erfarenheter jag ska erbjuda barnen... osv.
 För att undervisa och utmana barns lärande inom läroplanens målområden behöver förskolläraren bland annat kunskaper i:
• ämnet och innehållet
• hur barn lär beroende på ålder och erfarenhet 
• vad som är specifikt för barns lärande inom det aktuella målområdet 
• hur de skapar villkor i verksamheten för barn att utveckla kunnande inom olika målområden utifrån förskolans tradition och arbetssätt. 
Undervisningen i förskolan blir då en fråga om vad förskollärarna i lärandesammanhang vill att barnen ska ges möjlighet att utveckla ett kunnande om samt hur mål, innehåll och aktiviteter är relaterade till varandra och till barnen. (s.50)
Eftersom undervisning ska ske inom lek det är viktigt för förskollärare att förstå hur man leka, hur den påverka barnets utveckling och lärande och hur man kan skapa lärande situationer inom lek. Men också förstår hur man som vuxen påverka leken... när man inspirera barnen egen lek och lärande - utmana den... eller när man kommer i vägen och ta över, omedvetet om sin egen makt och påverkan (dvs man tror att man gör det för barnens skull, men man har inte reflekterat tillräckligt mycket över hur man själv påverka situationen). Förskolan ska vara demokratiskt... så jag menar inte att man ska följa barnen... vad jag menar är att vi skapa tillit, respekt, öppenhet och en jämställd förhållningssätt inom barnens lek och lärande.
 En avgörande kompetens är därför förskollärares medvetenhet om sina egna värderingar och hur dessa i undervisningsprocessen påverkar barnets lärande. Utifrån ett barnperspektiv behöver de också ha kunskap om vad målen innebär för barnens lärande i förskolan och hur de kan konkretiseras som innehåll och aktiviteter. (s.54)
Igen jag återvänder till filosofiska samtal som ett bra sätt att bemöta läroplans mål av undervisning - se under... (bold text är min)
Enligt läroplanen ska förskolans innehåll och undervisning utformas så att barnen ges möjlighet att utveckla sin identitet, nyfikenhet och lust att leka och lära. Undervisningen i förskolan ska också leda till att barnen utvecklar sin förståelse för vad demokrati är, bland annat genom att de ges möjlighet att uttrycka sina tankar och åsikter, och därmed kunna påverka sin situation. Barnen ska också ges möjlighet att utveckla sin förmåga att ta ansvar för egna handlingar och förskolans miljö och kunna förstå och handla efter demokratiska principer genom att delta i olika former av samarbete och beslutsfattande. Det framgår tydligt att leken ska ha en särskild och framlyft roll i förskolan. Sammantaget ska barnen ges möjlighet att utveckla självständighet och tillit till sin egen förmåga, känna sig delaktiga i sin egen kultur och känna respekt för andras kulturer, samt utveckla kunskaper inom läroplanens samtliga målområden. Uppdraget är omfattande och om förskolan ska ge barnen möjlighet att utveckla kunskaper inom alla målområdena behöver förskollärarna använda aktiviteter och situationer under hela dagen (S52)
Det stora texten är viktigt för mig... det handla om lek... om människans ursprungliga lärande (original learning) - som konstigt nog google vill översätta till originalundervisning... snacka om ett perfekt begrepp för förskolan... lek är originalundervisning. (Än så länge har jag 16 inlägg om Original Learning - Originalundervisning)

 Samhällsdimensionen sätter också ramarna för undervisningen i form av: 
• tydliga mål och innehåll för undervisningen riktade mot både gruppen och individuella barn
• att lek, lärande och omsorg bildar en helhet i undervisningen 
• att barns kognitiva, sociala och emotionella lärande integreras i undervisningen 
• att undervisning och lärande är roligt i förskolan. (s53)

Originalundervisning kräver att vi förstå barnens lärprocesser, att vi förstå lek, att vi förstår vad är meningsfullt och varför, att vi förstå hur barnen samspela med andra och omvärlden osv

Teoretiskt utgår läroplanen från att kunskap skapas i relationen mellan människor och omvärld. Det innebär att barn i förskolan lär genom att kommunicera och samspela med andra barn och vuxna och med sin omgivning. Barnens meningsskapande, förändring av kunnande och utveckling av förmågor är därmed beroende av de villkor till lärande som skapas i förskolan. Undervisning handlar då om att som förskollärare skapa möjligheter för barn till erfarenheter och upplevelser som leder till lärande i riktning mot läroplansmålen. Avgörande är att undervisningen sker på ett sådant sätt att barnens lust till lärande utmanas och att barnen utvecklar en vilja och nyfikenhet till ny kunskap och i förlängningen till livslångt lärande. Det är huvudmannens och förskolechefens ansvar att se till att det finns nödvändig kompetens på varje avdelning. (s 53-54)

Jag avslutar inlägget med följande citat som påminna att undervisning också kräver att vi skapa en bra omsorg för att bygga tillit och lärande på.
 Förskolor av hög kvalitet utmärks av en undervisning som präglas av fysisk, emotionell och intellektuell närhet mellan förskollärarna och barnen. Barnen är delaktiga, utmanas och ingår i en kommunikativ gemenskap. Förskollärarna strävar efter att möta barnen i deras intentioner och skapar så kallade ”möjlighetsmöten” (Sheridan m.fl., 2009). Detta till skillnad mot förskolor som har en låg kvalitet och tycks sakna undervisning. Istället för att möta barnen i deras avsikter och agerande verkar det som om förskollärarna står utanför barnens aktiviteter, agerar parallellt med dem och blir engagerade först när de behöver reda ut uppkomna situationer och upprätthålla kontroll (Sheridan m.fl., 2009).  (54-55)

Monday, 16 April 2018

the story of a dining table

I recently read a thread about the use of tablecloths in early years settings... one educator having seen them being used on pinterest in increasing numbers and was wondering whether it was a thing... and wondering whether she was missing out on something.

I think it lead to some interesting dialogue.. as the group is  Reggio Emilia inspired group is is from this standpoint that the discussion went.
Some said they used tablecloths to hide ugly tables, others said they used them to make their setting more homely feeling... and there was a comment about the preschools in Reggio Emilia itself using tablecloths and personal napkins at the lunch table every day... in the sense of honouring the child... although the writer chose the words dignified and civilised as a way of describing the reasons...

I am all for honouring the child... but does a tablecloth really do that? And is a table without a tablecloth uncivilised?

I looked at the history of tablecloths to find out where they come from, and also the history of the napkin... and saw that they have changed over time, but on the whole that they have been connected with showing off wealth and status. (see links below)

I also looked into sustainability... which is better for the planet... and really there is not a big difference between them if the napkins are being cleaned once a week - but if you are adding on the tablecloth impact in comparison to wiping a table clean, then yes that is going to have a larger impact... both with the whole making of the cloth as well as maintaining its cleanliness. (see link below)

I also looked at it from a hygiene point of view... an within many preschools it is simply policy that paper towels are used rather than real towels or napkins. Here is Sweden we have a roll of paper at the table - as do most homes... I would also like to point out that compared to my British home where we use a roll of paper towels too - the paper is thinner, recycled and is divided into smaller pieces so that you do not have to take more than you need. My children comment every time we visit the UK on the size of the paper towels!!

I also googled fine dining around the world, and also michelin restaurants to see what images would pop up... and many of the photos were of tables without table cloths. As I was interested in the idea of us needing to put tablecloths on a table to give the children value, status or to honour them in some way... and yet these restaurants seem to honour the food and their patrons without the need of tablecloths...

As I wrote in my comment in the group... for me it is not about the fact there is a tablecloth or not, but about the quality of the food and also the quality of the interactions with the people who work there.
In the preschool it would be about the quality of the interactions with the children's peers and also the educators.

I also checked out a Swedish paper that examined meal times in the preschool setting - exploring mealtimes in families over time and in various cultures. (see link below) - it states that mealtimes have become a measuring stick of civilised behaviour. That table etuiqutte was a way of seeing how well raised people were/are - and that you came form a good family (historically).

That it is a time for talking together, sharing values... research had shown that different cultures did this differently... in some children were valued more equally in others the parents talk at the children - these family meals will influence how we eat at preschool.

That mealtimes are a part of the social interaction order... that it is a complex social situation that happens on a daily basis... who leads the conversation, who gets the biggest portion, or the most of a certain most desirable food etc... there can be a lot happening at a meal.

So mealtimes can be seen  as a social arena... what kind of arena do we want to set up? How do we want the children to interact with each other. What sort of feeling do we want to create at the table... how does the setting of the table impact that...? tablecloths, flowers, having food served, taking their own food at the table or buffet style... having teachers sitting with them or not... all are conscious decisions that we make... and I feel we should always be prepared to change them depending on the need of individuals in the group and also how the group interacts with each other... and for this to be constantly re-assessed and new ways tried.

As a child I remember how eating meals was very much part of my social training - both at school and at home... we were expected to behave in certain ways... expected to hold knife and fork in certain ways, to talk not too loudly, not with our mouths full, how to eat the food etc etc (both my sister and I made the decision to dislike peas because of the demand to eat with our forks "correctly" ie not allowed to shovel them in - it was just too much hassle to chase those peas around the plate... much easier not to like them)

I have an extremely vivid memory from my first school lunch/dinner - so I must have been 4 years old... where I spat out my dessert and got promptly told off. As a four year old I had complete trust in the adults around me that they would give me food that I liked, and if it was new food I was given a small amount to try... this was not the system of the school... a portion of mandarin oranges was put in my bowl and I trustingly put one in my mouth and it exited pronto.
I suffered a lot at school mealtimes due to not being able to eat fruit... I would eat well... all my vegetables etc, just not fruit, which I realise is part of my autism and sensory processing - I love the taste but the feeling is just all wrong. and I mean all wrong.
This has of course given me a greater sensitivity for young children as they learn to process foods - I will always encourage to try... but I will never force.

For me this is more important than a tablecloth or cloth napkins. My interaction with the child.
But I think we need to take a closer look at the local way of eating - are we going to choose how they do it in Reggio Emilia with tablecloths and cloth napkins or are we going respect how the local culture eats meals.
Like my post about the dining room in Iceland (which funnily enough I had shared earlier today on my page) - where the educators at the preschool (A∂althing ) wanted to create a dining room that empowered the children. They visited various restaurants to see how a dining experience was being created for adults and wanted to create this same respect for children. They chose a hotel dining room where the tables were different sizes and heights as well as the chairs... they also made sure there were more spaces to sit at than children... so that when the last child entered the room there was still a selection of spaces to choose from. (see links below)

We need to think about how are we creating respectful interactions at the table... how are we empowering the children - do they take their own food at a buffet, or do they pass bowls around that the table... or is there a good reason for the teachers serving the children (I have to say when we have an epidemic of worms going round, we serve the food to make sure that we minimise contamination). Questions about who and how is the table going to be set, and also of how the table is to be cleared and cleaned afterwards are all taken into consideration - how can the children be involved, do they need to be involved, what happens if they are and what happens if they are not. Also what adjustments do we need to make if we are involving the children so that they fel competent... that it is not inappropriate - like if the children are scraping their own plates is it feasible to expect 1-3 year olds to always get their food in the bucket... what kind of support do they need, or is it OK for them to make a mess... if making a mess is OK what are we saying to the children when they are older... that they do not need to get it into the bucket or...?

If we look around the world we will see that meals are consumed in many different ways in the home and in school... and most of those ways are respectful - but will not involve tablecloths and cloth napkins (I mean look at the boxes of Japanese food - the bento boxes... so many of them are absolutely beautiful - never have I seen food in the west presented like this on a daily basis, for adults or children). Some eat on the floor, some on low benches, some ate tables, but not all. Not all homes and schools will have individual plates as communal eating is their preferred choice to socialise and connect and show respect.  - the Swedish paper about mealtimes in preschools.

The Tablecloth in History - about how tablecloths were a sign of status...
medieval tablecloths - another link with information  - interesting to read that the old word for tablecloth in English is bord-cloth... as bord is the Swedish word for table.

Charlemagne's Tablecloth - this is more of a post about feasting, but at the same time I found it useful from the point of view that mealtimes have such power, and are an arena to show off wealth and status... also I wanted to share this because it starts off with a tale from my hometown of York, and ends with Charlemagne who was actually educated in York too! Nice to see that the asbestos tablecloth was not true though!

Vikings and food - this text shows that rich and high status vikings had a tablecloth

what is best cloth or paper napkin - from a sustainable point of view

Napkin History... from dough, to communal cloths, to paper towels - its a long read with some interesting facts that show how trends have changed over time in our relationship with table cloths and napkins...

Paper towels - a post about how millenials are using aper towels rather than paper napkins - this is what I do at home and also at preschools I have worked out... and in just about every Swedish home I have been in. Sometimes there are paper napkins, even more rarely cloth napkins. I do have cloth napkins at home, and will bring them out - no lets be honest I have not brought them out for years and years. To be honest we usually just wash our hands after our meal... as is the case with preschoolers- we wash hands and faces.

meals around the world some images of families eating together
American family dining - this really shows that there are so many different ways to eat a meal... and all within the same nation (2 of the 36 images have tablecloths)
food traditions we can learn a lesson from - just five examples that can add value to a mealtime according to this post
A film about lunch in  japanese school... not quite the same as a table set for everyone... but at the same time still honouring the child and empowering them.

Experience food not just feeding - this is a post about  a person who visit the Atelier of Food in Reggio Emilia... an goes back to the idea that by having tablecloths is giving value to the child because the table is set as we adults would set the table for (adult) guests - my question is then.. do we want the children to feel like guests or like family... and also to point out that if you should ever have a meal at my home there will never be a tablecloth on the table... firstly I don't own one, and secondly I would rather hope that my attention to making good food, and how interesting dialogues together is enough to make you feel special and valued.
Also there is this idea that what makes having guests ver and setting the table in a special way for Christmas or, birthdays or any other occasion  is that fact that we have gone that little extra to make it special for that special occasion... if it is special everyday then how will we make it different when we want to make it special... like we don't want birthday cake everyday, or whatever you might choose that makes us feel special... would it still be special if it was a daily thing? I don't have the answer here, just asking...
A room to eat - Iceland - here is my post about the dining room in Iceland
Täppan - this is another preschool where I wrote a little about their lunch routine

Personally I have worked in different ways... from sitting with the children and not sitting with the children, from buffet style to serving the children to dishes at the table to serve and share... for large groups at a table to small tables... and there is not one way that I prefer over another... they all have value, they can be used and changed to meet the needs of the children. So it will be hard to get from a me which is the best way to eat lunch... I won't know until I have worked with the children for a while.
I can also mess about with the usual routine just to get the children questioning why do we eat the way we do... like sucking u food through a straw (which I avoid more these days, unless they are re-usable straws) - or drinking off a plate and eating from a cup... or sitting on the floor, or no chairs, or eating directly off the table... or using the chairs for a table... indoor picnics are usually rather popular also...

The story of being invisible

being visibly invisible
This is something I strive to be...

The idea is that I want to be visible in the sense that the children know I am always there for them, that they can rely on me, that they feel safe to go off and explore, that we have mutual trust and respect and that I am a part of the democratic community of learning...

but I want to be invisible too... that I do not interfere with the children's learning, that they have the power to solve their own problems and find their own solutions, that they have the time and space to explore, create and play without adult intervention.

It is a constant balance of knowing when to step in and when to step back.
I also like to position myself in one place during free play, so that the children know where to find me... a place where I can see all the children - so that I can observe... not only to keep them safe, but also to learn from their play and interactions.

I will at times move about when I realise I need to learn more... or I see a situation is becoming fragile and often my presence being a little closer is enough to support them to reflect on the situation rather than just follow their emotions.

Some children need me to be more visible, others need less.
And I have worked with some groups that have needed a lot of visibility on my behalf to scaffold the play climate. I have been unfortunate enough to work with some children from abusive homes - and these children have needed a lot of visibility to decode play and to build up trust with the whole group (and by unfortunate I mean I wished no child ever experienced abuse).

I think the more I read about childhood, about play and about theories and research into development (brain, cognitive, social, physical) the more I am able to understand how to create that balance between visible and invisible to meet the needs of the children I work with... that balance is always changing, it is never a constant.

Friday, 13 April 2018

The story of a ladybird...

Yesterday I saw a image shared of ladybirds... and shared it to my page... as I thought it was a great way to learn more about the diversity of nature... a way to identify the many kinds of ladybirds.

As a child I had inherited my mother's fear of insects... by observing her behaviour and mirroring it... Imade the decision as a mother to hide my fear of insects from my children so that they could develop their own relationship with creepy crawlies... I am happy to say both daughters and my son are pretty much fearless when it comes to insects... they are things of interest.

I do remember as a child, though, that ladybirds (or ladybugs) were one of the very few insects that I would want to hold or have crawl on me (that and the teeny tiny money spiders). So for me (and I see it in preschoolers today as well) ladybirds are a way into the insect world...

Just as an interesting side note... in Swedish they are called "nyckelpiga" which direct translated means key-maid. I mean I have always wanted to know what they hold the key to - but I will keep on topic..

here is the image...

and if you would like more information you can check  here (the BBC wildlife) and here - national geographic for kids and here - UK ladybird spotter  and here... ladybird directly translated into English from various languages and here - ladybug identfier

What I would do with the above image is print it out, cut it into individual insect cards - to make it more manageable to select from, and also more handy to put into a pocket when I am going out. I would also laminate the individual cards so that I could take them out in all weathers.

I would probably print out two sets... more to share... and also it would allow me to play memory with the children... I could select 5 ladybirds at first - making them very different from each other to ease the process in the beginning...

I would ask the children to sort them... and that could be done in different ways... sort them by colour, sort them by number of spots, size or sort them by which are their favourites etc etc asking why they are their favourite or not...

If there developed a big interest in ladybirds I would share some of the facts that I had learned through reading the texts with the children...

I would also look for ladybird storybooks to read with the children...
like this online story about a yellow ladybird feeling different from the others.. or this traditional rhyme which can be an interesting rhyme to explore with children... what DOES it mean?
or this film version of the grouchy ladybug by Eric Carle. (called the Bad-tempered Ladybird in British English) - there is also what the ladybird heard by Julia Donaldson - or songs like this or this... which reminds me of a Swedish rhyme about ladybirds  or this finger rhyme

I might provide different coloured play-doh that connected to the colours of the ladybirds we had observed... and provide small black stones/button/beads for the children to create their own ladybirds - of course they would be free to make their own play-doh creations too...

maybe some stone painting to turn them into ladybirds,
or simple painting with just red and black one time... or yellow and black another... not with the aim to create  ladybirds... but just to express themselves through that medium. Would they be inspired by the ladybird colours in any specific way after all their ladybird explorations?

Maybe make art with buttons... selecting  the colours of ladybirds that we have observed.

But mostly for me the excitement is getting outside and discovering nature... and having the resources to be able to answer the children about what we discover... by knowing or showing the resources to find out together.
I also like the fact that there is such diversity... they are all ladybirds... and yet they are all different... yet we value them equally as ladybirds... some are not more a ladybird than other (this is why I like to sort my what is their favourite and asking them why... I could then go on to ask about how they might think the ones they are not so keen on might feel etc... it is a start of a dialogue at least)

Many make judgements about how people look... and this is a way of addressing that in a safe way... to get the children thinking about diversity, about the norm and things/people/ideas outside of the norm - and how we value all of these.

sure you can do ladybird math by making ladybird picture and counting spots on them... but I prefer to do that in nature as we explore and as a natural part of the identifying process.

Ladybird and other insects came up a lot for us during the International Fairy Tea Party too... in part because the children were looking for small things and also as part of the curiosity in things with wings (like fairies)

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Outside light and shadow play... with colour...

Yesterday I played with light inside... today I took the materials and a few more outside to see how it would work.

Here is a short film and then afterwards some images with reflections...

Things did not blow around quite as much as I was expecting, but it was not such a windy day and I was in a nice sheltered spot too. But the material need to be weighed down... the attempt att experimenting with the balloon and trying to take photographs was impossible on my own... that thing just wanted to fly!

a mixture of materials - a white surface made it easier to see... I experimented with different coloured paper too, but for some reason did not take photos.. too busy playing I guess

using a mirror to reflect the light... I was wondering whether I could bend a shadow, but I was not able to see that as it got so bright from the reflection...

but extra colour shadows appeared

when empty and the bowl was upright a lot of details came in the shadow... but when you put it upside down or put another one on top (to create a ball) the details went. I think maybe if I did this earlier in the morning when the sun was lower the shadows would have been different...

found a little rainbow in the middle of it all...

drawing on a see through umbrella with a chalk pen... this means it can easily be wiped off. This was hard to do alone as the umbrella wanted to do a Mary Poppins thimg and fly off... so I could draw and experiment but I could not take photos that really showed how the drawings on the umbrella made shadows... it could be fun with paints - not just to create shadows but also if a child held it inside another could paint on the outside... would be fun to watch.

recreated my indoor build outside. It blew down twice during the whole session, which really was not so bad, all considering, and they did not blow far. BUT if it is windy outside these small glasses will fly. You could always fill them with water and stack them... or even ice on a hot day...

the glass beads worked well... of course square ones stack... the round ones I had to hold on their side to make decent colours on the ground

I could change the colour of the plastic serviette ring... depending on what colour I ut behind...

I was fascinated by the size difference of the same cup depending on which direction it was standing... I would love to ask young children what their theories are about this and why they think that...

colour mixing in different ways

mirror play

more mirror play... I was trying to see how many shadows I could see... I got three... would have been handy with an assistant for this bit... as the mirrors kept falling... or that I had taken more heavy things outside for the mirrors to lean against.

as I was starting to tidy up I noticed that the shadow on my silver bag was of a total different quality... so I just had to play a little more...

details were easier to see on the more smooth surface - now when I placed a bowl inside a bowl I could see it more clearly...  The above shows three bowls, not two.

then I started playing with the colour paddles... even drawing faces on them with the chalk pen, which was easy to rub off and draw something new on. A short film of that will be posted on my instagram and facebook page later...

and I will leave you with a last colour mix...

David Hawkins - Messing about

you need to actually play in order to understand play.

Undervisning i förskolan - del 3

Idag hinner jag inte riktig med att läsa mer av skolverkets publikationen - idag ska jag jobba med första utformning av min presentation för FSO-Dagen 2018, en massa idéer kring undervisning i förskolan och filosofi med barn vill komma fram... och nu!

Men jag vill dela några publikationer från UK - eftersom det finns en stor tryck att man ska utvärdera 4-åringar genom att barnen ska göra prov!!!!

Man kanske tror att vi är långt därifrån... aldrig ska vi testa barn här i Sverige,,, men det kan man faktiskt inte säga. Ingen trodde det skulle ske i England heller...

Från tes websidan kan man läsa den här artikel kring vem ska ta ansvar för att skapa provet för 4 åringar... det finns en del företag som vägra.

Och den här from The Conversation kring lek och att Ofsted's val att ta in mer formell undervisning är skadlig. (pushing school ever downwards... )

Jag har sett hur det har blivit mindre och mindre lek för dom yngste barnen i UK pga undervisning - och det är därför det är viktigt att vi är tydlig med vad vi menar med undervisning här i Sverige...

Jag vill inte göra undervisning lekfullt... det ska vara en medvetenhet att stödja barnens lärande inom leken - att VI pedagoger ska lär oss mer om hur lek fungera och hur barn lär sig för att kunna "undervisa" på ett lämpligt sätt.

Men egentligen vill jag inte undervisa... jag vill underlätta barnens lärande... men när jag läsa skolverkets publikation om undervisning det verka (än så länge) vara det som dom beskrivs. En medvetenhet kring hur man underlätta barnens lärande... som individ och som grupp.

Jag håller lek-workshops för att underlätta för pedagoger att förstå och analysera lek - hur man kan utveckla leken, hur man påverka leken Och sedan hur man planera "lektioner" baserad på lek
Barnen är med i processen... det är något vi gör tillsammans... det är därför filosofiska samtal är så himla bra... på tal om det... jag måste fortsätta med presentationen...