Friday, 31 August 2018

Förskolans Läroplan 2018 del 1 (The new Swedish preschool curriculum)

(English after the images)

Alla citat kommer ifrån den nya läroplanen
Förskolan ingår i skolväsendet och vilar på demokratins grund. Av skollagen (2010:800) framgår att utbildningen i förskolan syftar till att barn ska inhämta och utveckla kunskaper och värden. Den ska främja alla barns utveckling och lärande samt en livslång lust att lära. Utbildningen ska också förmedla och förankra respekt för de mänskliga rättigheterna och de grundläggande demokratiska värderingar som det svenska samhället vilar på
Den nya läroplan börja med att konstatera att det är en skolform, att det är demokratiskt och att det handla om att "inhämta och utveckla kunskaper och värden". Hela första stycket handla om inklusivitet - att alla har rätt att delta, blir respekterad och har lika värde. Det är först i den andra stycke om "förståelse och medmänsklighet" att det är prat om empati och omtanke, men som något som ska ingå i deras utbildning. Den tredje stycket fortsätta i liknande ande med att alla har rätt att uttrycka sina idé och åsikter och vikten att barnen får höra en mångsidigt berättelse om livet och lärande. Sedan fortsätta det med att alla förskolor runt om landet ska erbjuda en likvärdig utbildning (detta undra jag verkligen hur dom ska göra - för att jag uppleva att det finns stora skillnader även inom en stad).
Sedan blev det en tydlighet om att könstillhörighet ska inte påverka tillgång till utbildning, lek, upplevelser eller hur man är bemött (skulle vara trevlig att det var lika tydligt kring barn med olika "funktion nedsättningar" utifrån den förskolemiljö man nuvarande erbjuda - istället är det samma som vanligt att man ska anpassa efter behov - men inte tillräckligt mycket om hur man göra det som en grupp... dvs det är en individuell anpassning istället för en grupp anpassning som man ska göra kring könstillhörighet).

Det första som skrivs om "förskolans uppdrag" är
Utbildningen i förskolan ska lägga grunden för ett livslångt lärande. Den ska vara rolig, trygg och lärorik för alla barn. Utbildningen ska utgå från en helhetssyn på barn och barnens behov, där omsorg, utveckling och lärande bildar en helhet. I samarbete med hemmen ska förskolan främja barnens utveckling till aktiva, kreativa, kompetenta och ansvarskännande människor och samhällsmedlemmar
Precis som tidigare i år, jag reagera mot ordet "rolig" - och skrev om det i "Learning is fun"  där jag ifrågasätta att lärande ska vara roligt... vi är inte "edu-tainers" för att underhålla barn med lärande... men istället väcka en glädje hos varje barn för lärande. Om vi skapar en trygg förskola där basen är omsorg kommer barnen har energi för att utforska, leka, upptäcka och lära en massa saker - barn som är otrygga kommer inte kunna släppa behovet av att vara sedd, bekräftat och omtyckt (kanske älskad utifrån Jools Page beskriving av "professional love") och då finns det mindre utrymme för lärande och lek. För mig är det en skälvklarhet att omsorg är otrolig viktig för lärande.
Jag var på en konferens förra veckan där jag lyssnade på olika lärarutbildare från runt om i världen - alla pratade om behovet av omsorg (även i skolan) för att skapa respekt, möjlighet till reflektion osv... den enda med en agenda att separera "educare" var från Sverige och inom förskolan. Han blev inte tydlig om varför man ska ta bort "care" från "edu" men har sade det flera gånger.
Det påminde mig om den svenska mode för några år sedan att ta bort "nyckelperson" dvs en person som kom nära ett barn och deras familj för att alla barn ska vara allas. Det finns mycket forskning från hela världen som berätta att en nyckelperson är extrem viktig för yngre barn att lära sig att knyta an... för att sedan använda den anknytning för att kunna skapa positiv and stabil anknytningar med andra...
dvs det är OMSORG som är den lärande kraften för empati, respekt, vänskap, att kunna lyssna på andra, att kunna ge värde till andra. Under kommer ifrån UK's EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage)

Why Attachment Matters

What is attachment and why is it important for young children? Attachments are the emotional bonds that young children develop with parents and other carers such as their key person. Children with strong early attachments cry less when separated. They engage in more pretend play and sustain attention for longer. They are less aggressive and are popular with other children and with adults. Their sense of who they are is strong. Children need to be safe in the relationship they have with parents or carers. They are vulnerable but will develop resilience when their physical and psychological well-being is protected by an adult. Being emotionally attached to such an adult helps the child feel secure that the person they depend on is there for them.  When children feel safe they are more inclined to try things out and be more independent. They are confident to express their ideas and feelings and feel good about themselves. Attachment influences a child’s immediate all-round development and future relationships.
Finns det ett behov för länkar till forskning så kan du fråga efter det i kommentar området vid slutet av detta inlägg.
Om vi ska stödja barnen att bli kompetenta, kreative osv så måste vi börja med omsorg - att deras känslomässiga och fysiska behov är bemött för att kunna verkligen har stor påverkan på deras kognitiva utveckling (om man nu ska definiera kognitiv med lärande) .

I utbildningen ingår undervisning. Undervisning innebär att stimulera och utmana barnen med läroplanens mål som utgångspunkt och riktning, och syftar till utveckling och lärande hos barnen. Undervisningen ska utgå från ett innehåll som är planerat eller uppstår spontant eftersom barns utveckling och lärande sker hela tiden
Jag är glad att se att undervisning är inte alls som undervisning som finns på skolan... kanske dags att ändra skolan så att den likna denna beskrivning.  Läroplanen fortsätta med att undervisningen är förskollärarens ansvar - så jag verkligen hoppas att det finns tid för förskollärare att kunna observera barnen och deras behov och kunskap osv för att reflektera, analysera och planera undervisningstillfälle - och samtidigt få tid med alla som arbeta på förskolan så att alla kan vara en del av denna process...
problemet är att det finns ytterst lite tid för pedagogerna att reflektera och planera tillsammans på den djup att läroplanen egentligen kräver.
Förr igår pratade jag med några som arbeta med Anji Play (en förskola förhållningssätt som började in provinsen Anji i Kina) och där pedagogerna få varje fredag eftermiddag för att reflektera och planera tillsammans som arbetslag, samt träffa och diskutera med andra pedagoger från andra förskolor för att kunna kontinuerligt utveckla som pedagoger. Föräldrarna hämta sina barn vid lunch denna dag. Att hela samhället är inställd att man måste stödja pedagogerna för att kunna ge den bäste kvalitet till barnen. Hur ska vi här i Sverige kunna se till att pedagogerna få den tid som verkligen krävs för att kunna utföra denna läroplan? Hur ska pedagogerna tränas ordentligt i observation och reflektion? När jag besökt flera förskolor förra året med en gäng pedagoger från Palestina vill dom veta hur man observerade... ingen pedagog kunde säga mycket mer än observera, ta bilder skriva lite anteckningar... dom nämnde ingenting om strategier, vilken sorts information sökta man för att kunna skapa lärande tillfälle... något som jag hade jobbet med dom mycket i Palestina och nu vill dom se i verkligheten... verkligheten och teori på många håll i Svenska förskola verka inte vara ihop riktig ännu. HUR ska man utbilda, träna och stödja detta?

Utbildningen i förskolan ska planeras och genomföras på ett sådant sätt så att den främjar barnens utveckling, hälsa och välbefinnande. Förskolan ska erbjuda barnen en god miljö och en väl avvägd dagsrytm med både vila och aktiviteter som är anpassade efter deras behov och vistelsetid
Som fru till en sömnforskare tycker jag att alltför många förskolor  ge inte tillräckligt mycket utrymme eller värde till sömn och vila som man borde. Det är  en del av den pedagogiska dagen... utan adekvat sömn eller vila kan man inte lära sig saker ordentligt eller kommer ihåg saker på ett optimal sätt. Man kan läsa mer om det i Tips för sömn och vila i förskolan

Nu avsluta jag för idag... och kommer att fortsätta genom hela läroplanen. Än så länge har vi kommit fram till sid 4 av 16.



now for the English translation
All quotes come from the new curriculum
Preschool is part of the school system and rests on the basis of democracy. From the school law (2010: 800) it strives that education in preschool aims at children to acquire and develop knowledge and values. It will promote all children's development and learning as well as a lifelong desire to learn. The education should also convey and anchor respect for human rights and fundamental democratic values ​​that Swedish society is based on
The new curriculum starts with stating that it is a form of school, that it is democratic and that it is about "acquiring and developing knowledge and values". The whole first paragraph is about inclusivity - that everyone has the right to participate, be respected and have equal value. It is only in the second paragraph about "understanding and humanity" that there is talk of empathy and consideration, but as something to be a part of their education. The third paragraph continues in the same spirit that everyone is entitled to express their ideas and opinions and the importance that the children hear diverse stories about life and learning. Then continues with that all preschools across the country are required to offer an equivalent education ie all have the same quality (I really wonder how this will be done - because I experience great differences within ONE city too).
Then they make it clear that gender should not affect access to education, play, experiences or how to interact with the children (would be nice that it was equally clear about children with different "function impairments" based on the present-day-care environment - instead, it is the same as usual to customize as needed - but not enough about how to do it as a group ... ie it's an individual adaptation instead of a group of customization that is required for gender equality).

The first sentence about the "preschool's mission" is
Education in pre-school will lay the foundation for lifelong learning. It should be fun, safe and instructive for all children. The education will be based on an overall view of children and children's needs, where care, development and learning form a whole. In co-operation with homes, pre-school will promote children's development to active, creative, competent and responsible people and community members
Just like earlier this year, I react to the word "fun" - and wrote about it in "Learning is fun" where I question whether learning should be fun ... we are not "edu-tainers" to entertain children with learning. .. but instead we should bring a joy to every child for learning. If we create a safe preschool where the base is care, the children will have the energy to explore, play, discover and learn many things - children who are insecure will not be able to let go of being seen, confirmed and liked (maybe loved -  Jool's Page description of "professional love") and then there is less room for learning and play. To me it is a clear that care is incredibly important for learning.
I was at a conference last week where I listened to different teacher educators from around the world - everyone talked about the need for care (including in school) to create respect, opportunity for reflection etc ... the only one with an agenda to separate "educare" was from Sweden and in pre-school. He was not clear about why we should remove "care" from "edu" but he said it several times.
It reminded me of the Swedish fashion a few years ago to remove "key person", ie a person who develops a close relationship to a child and their family instead of all children belonging to all staff. There is a lot of research from all over the world that says a key person is extremely important for younger children to learn how to connect and form relationships ... and then use that extension to create positive and stable connections/relationships with others ...
ie, it is CARE which is the learning force of empathy, respect, friendship, being able to listen to others, being able to give value to others. Below comes from the UK EYFS

Why Attachment MattersWhat is attachment and why is it important for young children? Attachments are the emotional bonds that young children develop with parents and other carers such as their key person. Children with strong early attachments cry less when separated. They engage in more pretend play and sustain attention for longer. They are less aggressive and are popular with other children and with adults. Their sense of who they are is strong. Children need to be safe in the relationship they have with parents or carers. They are vulnerable but will develop resilience when their physical and psychological well-being is protected by an adult. Being emotionally attached to such an adult helps the child feel secure that the person they depend on is there for them.  When children feel safe they are more inclined to try things out and be more independent. They are confident to express their ideas and feelings and feel good about themselves. Attachment influences a child’s immediate all-round development and future relationships.
If there is a need for links to the aforementioned research then you can ask for it in the comments area at the end of this post.

If we are to support the children to become competent, creative, etc., we need to start with care - that their emotional and physical needs are met in order to really influence their cognitive development (if one is to define cognitive with learning).

Education includes teaching (instruction). Teaching (instruction) involves stimulating and challenging the children with the curriculum goals as a starting point and direction, and aims at the development and learning of the children. Teaching should be based on content that is planned or spontaneous, as children's development and learning takes place all the time
I'm glad to see that teaching (undervisning - a huge new part and focus of this new cirruculum in Sweden) is not at all like teaching at school  ie lessons and teacher down... maybe time to change school so that it resembles this description. The curriculum continues that teaching is the pre-school teacher's responsibility - so I really hope there is time for preschool teachers to be able to observe the children and their needs and knowledge, etc. to reflect, analyze and plan teaching opportunities - and also have time with everyone working at the preschool so that everybody can be part of this process...

The problem is that there is little time for the educators to reflect and plan together at the in-depth level that the curriculum really requires.
The other day, I talked to the folks working with Anji Play (a preschool approach that started in Anji, China) where teachers get every Friday afternoon to reflect and plan together as work-teams, as well as meet and discuss with other educators from other preschools to be able to continuously develop as educators. Parents pick up their children at lunch this day. The whole society is set to support educators in order to provide the best quality for the children. How can we here in Sweden ensure that educators get the time really needed to complete this curriculum? How should educators be properly trained in observation and reflection? When I visited several preschools last year with a bunch of educators from Palestine they want to know how to observe ... no educator could answer much more than observe, take pictures write a few notes ... they did not mention anything about strategies, what kind of information was sought in order to create a learning opportunity ... something that I had worked with them a lot in Palestine and now they want to see in reality ... reality and theory in many places in Swedish preschool do not seem to be integrated yet. How do we train and support this?

Education in preschool should be planned and implemented in such a way that it promotes children's development, health and well-being. Pre-school will provide the children with a good environment and a well-balanced daily rhythm with both rest and activities tailored to their needs and length of stay
As a wife of a sleep researcher, I think that too many preschools do not give enough room or value to sleep and rest as they should. It's part of the educational day ... without adequate sleep or rest, one can not learn things properly or remember things in an optimal way. You can read more about it in Tips for sleep and rest in preschools

Now I finish for today ... and will continue throughout the curriculum page for page. So far we have arrived at page 4 of 16.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Älvkalas

Jag håller på skriva några dokument för att kunna stödja en projekt kring älvor och magi - med en fokus på värdegrunden.

I den här dokument kan man hitta en introduktion för att komma igång.
Jag kommer att samla 6 års erfarenhet av just älvkalas projekterande och vad jag har lärt mig.

Älvkalas






Saturday, 25 August 2018

Tips for sleep and rest in preschool...

(på svenska efter bilden)

Yesterday I updated a post I wrote a few years back about sleep and rest (you can read it here) and updated it to include a Swedish translation. This I re-shared and I have received a few questions about it that I will take up in this post.

One question was about what happens if you work with a child that obviously needs sleep during the day and yet their parents are adamant that they do not nap at preschool?

I have also encountered this several times over the years, the worst was a three year old child that literally could not keep awake and yet we were expected to ensure that he did not nap for the sake of the child's parent who said the child could not fall asleep otherwise.
I hated having to forcibly keep the child awake - it felt immensely cruel, so I asked my husband about what could I do.
As a sleep researcher he has a lot of understanding about how sleep works, the needs of sleep and the impact of this on the body (he has researched how sleep impacts reaction/cognition, the immune system among many other things... and one of his current studies is about autistic children and sleep). He was shocked to hear that we were having to keep him awake and emotionally reacted by saying sleep deprivation is a form of torture... hardly something I could use in a dialogue with the child's parent! But went on to say that I needed to talk to the parent about the  benefits of a nap for health and development and that a good compromise would be that if the child really needed to sleep to allow them to fall asleep and to wake them after 10 minutes. This 10 minutes would not impact the evening sleep but would allow the child to have a small recuperation. If the child did not wake up at this point, to allow them to sleep 10 minutes more and wake them then.
I presented this to the parent, the parent agreed and we tried it out one a four week basis, where we would document the naps and the parent would document the falling asleep in the evening. In this four week period we did not tell the parent if the child had napped or not, so that it did not bias the parent (I sometimes think that if a parent thinks their child is going to struggle falling asleep, the child picks up on that tension and then struggles to fall asleep).
What we noticed was that there was no correlation between problems falling asleep and naps... rather that on the days without these 10 minute powernaps there was a tendency to struggle with falling asleep.

My husband tells me this is to do with stress hormones... to stay awake when we are tired the body shuts down melatonin and increases adrenaline. If a child is overtired then this is the state that they are going to be in - also known as "second wind".
Having a short nap during the day can help avoid the need for second wind. Just as having a good bedtime routine is essential, with an appropriate wind down time for your child. Back when all three of my children were under the age of five we had a very clear bedtime routine - we did the exact same every evening, so that there was comfort in the predictability and also ensuring they got into bed at a decent hour so that they could meet their sleep needs. At weekends they still had rest time, even when they did not need to sleep, especially if we had busy days.
This did not mean we were not flexible... there were still the odd day here and there that we would stay up later or change the routine - this is partly because we are human and we live social lives, partly because being a parent of autistic children you also need to do things that break the routine, BUT at the same time I was doing these things before I knew my children are autistic. There is research to back up that a regular bedtime routine, where children go to bed at the same time every night is key to a good sleep hygiene... I think there are many preschool children that do not have that and then are expected to deal with a full social day in preschool with a sleep deficit.  (Check out the research by Monique LeBourgois on young children and sleep and also use the key words sleep routine if you want to find out more).

I have had parents tell me that their child/ren did not like rest time and could they be excluded. Again I informed the parents about the importance of sleep and rest on the immune system and for cognitive development and that we needed to support the child instead to overcome their discomfort of doing nothing for 30 minutes... to help these children become comfortable with their inner voice, and that the parents had to help them with this just as we did - ie we needed a united front. I found often that parents wanted their child to be happy, and became anxious when their child was expressing that they did not like something at preschool and therefore felt the need to fix it so their child could be happy again. This meant taking time with these parents to explain that through rest we were allowing the child's stress hormones to go down so that the afternoon's  would be easier for them to manage. What I realised with these anxious children during rest was that it was not so much that they thought it was boring, but the fact they did not want to fall asleep and miss something their peers would be doing. This was met by me talking with the children to promise that if they fell asleep during rest time (3-6 year olds) that I would wake them up at the end of rest time and ask if they wanted to get up or continue to sleep. This was a decision I made with the parents too, that if a 3-6 year old suddenly needed to sleep then I would give them half an hour and then wake up... that maybe the reason for this sudden sleep need was that they were in fact fighting off a virus, and this sudden extra sleep need was what their body needed to keep healthy. All of the parents I worked with agreed that I would do this...

  1. all children rest in a darkened room, lying down and quiet for 30 minutes.
  2. those children that slept could, those who did not sleep, rested
  3. children that fell asleep during rest-time, that did not usually, were asked at the end of the 30 minutes if they wanted to get up or sleep some more.
  4. children were woken up after 30 minutes
  5. if there was an extreme sleep need and the child was TOO sleepy to wake up then, we returned 10 minutes later to wake them up.
With the parents and children understanding this routine, and also why we rested and nap (I think it is important the children know why rest time is a part of the pedagogical day and not just part of the care routine that seems to be implied at most settings I have encountered) then parents and children started to relax... and there were less reports from parents about children not being able to fall asleep in the evenings on a routine basis (of course it will happen now and again if routines change, or there is stress, anxiety about something in their lives) and also those few children that found rest time boring or stressful because they did not want to fall asleep could relax and enjoy the 30 minutes... even to the extent that they would get up and say that felt good, or that 30 minutes went by fast, or I thought about this etc etc. It became a positive part of the day for all of us.
This of course takes time. It is not an overnight fix.

The part where children do not want to wake up - as there seem to be few parents that say, let them sleep as long as they want... usually its 2 hours, 1.5 hours, 1 hour or 30 minutes of sleep. Some children absolutely do not want to wake up when their parent chosen allotted time is up. This is when the 10 minute rule came in... we would gently try to wake the child and if we could see they were still in deep sleep we simply said, "I will be back in 10 minutes". Then we would try 10 minutes later. If the child was still in deep sleep we would come back ten minutes later again... usually by this time the child would wake more easily and naturally and not spend the  next half hour in a sort of daze that tends to happen when we drag children up from deep sleep because their parents have said a specific time.

The most important is that a child gets enough sleep over a 24 hour period. The nap should not interfere with the night sleep. This is why sleep is so important to discuss with the parents. a 1-2 year old should be getting 12-13 hours of sleep per 24 hours... 3-6 year olds should be getting 11-12 hours per 24 hours (the younger in the scale being on the higher end of the 11-12). This is for optimal cognitive, physical and emotional development and to keep the body healthy. There are also plenty of studies that say that children with too little sleep have a higher risk of obesity.
So as educators we need to find out how rest time is impacting this, and work with the parent - it is NOT about when the child goes to bed, but when they fall asleep and when they wake up.. the actual sleep. And yes we are all individual, so there will be some children who need more than this and some that need less... we need to observe the child.

Then there is the need to help children wind down. Many children these days are given access to screens - screens give of blue light which stimulate rather than allow the body to relax. This means in the 1-2 hours before bedtime children should not have access to i-pads, computers and other screens. I am not sure how this impacts preschoolers with nap time though. But maybe a good rule of thumb is not a screen during rest/nap time.

For you as an adult I recommend f.lux which is an app that makes your screen less and less blue the closer to bedtime it gets so that if you have to work on a screen late at night, it has less impact on your ability to fall asleep.


If you have any more questions... please ask...




Igår uppdaterade jag ett inlägg som jag skrev några år tillbaka om sömn och vila (du kan läsa den här) för att inkludera en svensk översättning. Och jag har fått några frågor om det som jag ska ta upp i det här inlägget.


En fråga handlade om vad som händer om man arbetar med ett barn som uppenbarligen behöver sova under dagen och ändå är deras föräldrar fast att dom inte få sova på förskolan?

Jag har också stött på detta flera gånger under åren, det värsta var ett treårigt barn som bokstavligen inte kunde hålla sig vaken och ändå förväntades vi se till att han inte sov för barnets förälder som sa att barnet inte kunde somnar på kvällen annars.
Jag hatade att jag tvungna att hålla barnet vaken - det kändes väldigt grymt, så jag frågade min man om vad jag kunde göra.
Som sömnforskare har han stor förståelse för hur sömnen fungerar, sömnens behov och dess inverkan på kroppen (han har undersökt hur sömn påverkar reaktion/kognition, immunsystemet bland många andra saker ... och en av hans nuvarande studier handlar om autistiska barn och sömn). Han var chockad att höra att vi var tvungna att hålla honom vaken och känslomässigt reagerade genom att säga att det är en form av tortyr att förneka sömn... knappast någonting jag kunde använda i en dialog med barnets förälder! Men han fortsatte med att säga att jag behövde prata med föräldern om fördelarna med en tupplur för hälsan och utvecklingen och att en bra kompromiss skulle vara att om barnet verkligen behövde sova att man kunde väcka barnet efter 10 minuter. Dom här 10 minuterna skulle inte påverka kvällssömmen, men skulle låta barnet få en liten återhämtning. Om barnet inte vaknade vid denna tidpunkt, fick barnet sova ytterliga 10 minuter och väcka då.
Jag presenterade detta för föräldern, vi var överens och vi provade under en fyra veckors period, där vi skulle dokumentera tupplurarna och föräldern skulle dokumentera hur barnet somnade på kvällen. Under den här fyra veckorsperioden berättade vi inte för föräldern om barnet hade sovit 10 minuter eller inte, så att det inte fanns någon bias på kvällen (jag tror ibland att om en förälder tror att deras barn kommer att kämpa emot att somna, barnet plockar upp den spänningen och då har svårt att somna).
Det vi märkte var att det inte fanns någon korrelation mellan problem att somna och en liten lur på förskolan... snarare att på dagarna utan dessa 10 minuters "powernaps" var det en tendens att ha svårt att somna.

Min man berättar att det här är att göra med stresshormoner ... att vara vaken när vi är trötta, stänger kroppen av melatonin och ökar adrenalin. Om ett barn övertrött är kroppen fylld med fel hormoner för att kunna somna - det är känd som "andra vind". Second wind.
Att ha en kort tupplur under dagen kan hjälpa till att undvika behovet av "andra vind". Precis som att ha en bra sängtid är rutinen avgörande, med en lämplig varva ned tid för ditt barn. Tillbaka när alla tre av mina barnen var under fem år hade vi en mycket tydlig sömnrutin - vi gjorde exakt samma varje kväll så att det var tryggt i förutsägbarheten och också att de kom i sängen på en anständig timme så att de kunde möta deras sömnbehov. På helgerna hade de fortfarande vilotid, även när de inte behövde sova, särskilt om vi hade upptagna dagar.
Det menade inte att vi inte var flexibla ... det var fortfarande den dagen här och där som vi skulle vara uppe senare eller ändra rutinen - det beror delvis på att vi är mänskliga och vi lever sociala liv, delvis för att vi är förälder till autistiska barn, så måste man också göra saker som bryter rutinen för att öva på flexibiliteten, men samtidigt gjorde jag det här innan jag visste att mina barn är autistiska. Det finns forskning för att backa upp en regelbunden sömnrutin där barn går och lägger sig samma tid varje kväll är nyckeln till en god sömnhygien ... Jag tror att det finns många förskolebarn som inte har det och då förväntas hantera en hel social dag i förskolan med ett sömnunderskott. (Kolla in Monique LeBourgois forskning på yngrebarn och sömn och använd även nyckelorden sömn rutin (sleep routine) om du vill veta mer).

Jag har haft föräldrar berätta för mig att deras barn inte tyckte om vilan och kunde dom uteslutas. Återigen informerade jag föräldrarna om vikten av sömn och vila på immunsystemet och för kognitiv utveckling och att vi behövde stödja barnet istället för att övervinna deras obehag att göra ingenting under 30 minuter ... för att hjälpa dessa barn att bli bekanta med deras inre röst, och att föräldrarna var tvungna att hjälpa dom med det här, precis som vi gjorde - det var så att vi behövde en enad front. Jag fann ofta att föräldrar ville att deras barn skulle vara lyckliga och blev oroliga när deras barn uttryckte att de inte tyckte om något i förskolan och därför kände att de var tvungna att fixa det så att deras barn skulle kunna vara lyckliga igen. Detta innebar att man tog tid med dessa föräldrar att förklara att vi genom vila låter barnets stresshormoner gå ner så att eftermiddagen skulle vara lättare för dom att klara sig. Vad jag insåg med dessa oroliga barn under vila var att det handlade mindre om att de tyckte att det var tråkigt, men det faktum att de inte ville somna och gå miste om något som deras kamrater skulle göra. Då pratade jag med barnen och lovade att om dom somnade under vilan (3-6 åringar) att jag skulle väcka dom när vilan var klar och fråga om de ville gå upp eller fortsätta att sova . Detta var ett beslut jag gjorde med föräldrarna också att om en 3-6 åring plötsligt behövde sova så skulle jag ge dom en halvtimme och sedan väcka dom ... orsaken till detta plötsliga sömnbehov  kanske var att kroppen kämpade mot en virus, och detta plötsliga extra sömnbehov var vad kroppen behövde för att hålla sig frisk. Alla föräldrar jag arbetade med kom överens om att jag skulle göra det här ...


  1. alla barn vilar i ett mörkt rum, ligger och är tysta/lugna
  2. dom barn som vill sova fick, de som inte sov, vilade sig i 30 minuter
  3. Barn som råkade somna under vilan, när dom brukade inte sova, frågades i slutet av 30 minuter om de ville gå upp och sova lite mer.
  4. vi väckte barnet efter 30 minuter
  5. om det var ett extremt sömnbehov och barnet var för trött för att vakna så återvände vi 10 minuter senare för att vakna upp dom.

Med föräldrarna och barnen som förstår denna rutin och vet varför vi vilade och tog en tupplur (jag tycker det är viktigt, vet barnen varför vilan är en del av den pedagogiska dagen och inte bara en del av vårdrutinen som tycks vara underförstådd på dom flesta förskolor jag har stött på) började föräldrar och barn slappna av ... och det fanns mindre rapporter från föräldrar om deras barn inte kunde somna på kvällarna (det kommer givetvis att hända om rutinerna ändras, eller det finns stress, ångest om något i sina liv) och även dom få barn som fann vilan tråkigt eller stressigt eftersom dom inte ville somna kunde slappna av och njuta av 30 minuter ... även i den mån dom berättade själv att det kändes bra, eller att 30 minuter gick snabbt, eller berättade om deras dagdröm osv. Det blev en positiv del av dagen för oss alla.
Detta tar självklart tid. Det händer inte över en natt.

När ett barn inte vill vakna -  det verkar finnas få föräldrar som säger, låt dem sova så länge de vill ... vanligtvis är det 2 timmar, 1,5 timmar, 1 timme eller 30 minuters sömn. Vissa barn vill absolut inte vakna när deras föräldrars valda tilldelade tid är uppe. Det här är när 10-minuten regeln kom in ... vi lugnt försökte väcka barnet och om vi kunde se att dom fortfarande var i djupsömn, sa vi helt enkelt "Jag kommer tillbaka om 10 minuter". Då skulle vi försöka 10 minuter senare. Om barnet fortfarande var i djup sömn skulle vi komma tillbaka tio minuter senare igen ... vanligtvis vid det här tillfället skulle barnet vakna lättare och naturligt och inte tillbringa nästa halvtimme i en slags dimm som tenderar att hända när vi drar barn upp från djup sömn eftersom deras föräldrar har sagt en viss tid.


Det viktigaste är att ett barn får tillräckligt med sömn under en 24-timmarsperiod. Tuppluren ska inte störa nattens sömn. Det är därför sömn är så viktigt att diskutera med föräldrarna. En 1-2-åring borde få 12-13 timmars sömn per dygn ... 3-6 åringar ska få 11-12 timmar per dygn (den yngre i skalan ligger på den högre delen av 11 -12). Detta är för optimal kognitiv, fysisk och emotionell utveckling och för att hålla kroppen frisk. Det finns också många studier som säger att barn med sömnbrist har högre risk för fetma.
Så som lärare behöver vi ta reda på hur vilan påverkar detta och arbeta med föräldern - det handlar inte om när barnet lägger sig och går upp från sängs, men när de somnar och när de vaknar .. hur mycket sover barnet egentligen. Och ja, vi är alla individider, så det kommer att finnas några barn som behöver mer än detta och vissa som behöver mindre ... vi måste observera barnet.

Då finns det behov av att hjälpa barn att varva ned. Många barn får idag tillgång till skärmar - skärmar ger av blått ljus som stimulerar snarare än att låta kroppen slappna av. Det betyder att i 1-2 timmar före säng-gåendet bör barn inte ha tillgång till i-pads, datorer och andra skärmar. Jag är inte säker på hur detta påverkar förskolebarn med deras tupplur dock. Men kanske en bra tumregel är inte en skärm under vilan.

För dig som vuxen rekommenderar jag f.lux vilket är en app som gör din skärm mindre och mindre blå desto senare det blir så att om du måste jobba på en skärm sent på kvällen, har det mindre inverkan på din förmåga att somna.


Om du vill veta mer.. fråga ..





Thursday, 23 August 2018

Taking the time to reflect

Taking the time to reflect... it should be one of the simplest things to do, and yet often it feels impossible... as where do we get that time from..?



I am at ATEE conference in Gävle at the moment... listening to lots of research attaining to teacher training which I am finding incredibly interesting, but also found that I need to take the time to reflect and process the ideas milling around my head due to all the meetings, presentations and keynote talks during these days... because last night I could not fall asleep as my head took the time then to try and process and reflect on everything.

Often educators are not given the time or sufficient time to reflect both personally and also together with their colleagues. Theory tells us that we need to reflect, to analyse the documentation we have been collecting etc - we know and understand its benefits, but reality often prevents that time from materialising... colleagues become sick or are away, or things happen that require all educators to be with the children rather than one being able to leave to do some planning, and reflecting let alone do that with a colleague.
Preschools are seldom designed time-wise to allow reflection. I mean here in Sweden preschool pedagogues have a max of 40 hour working week which they have to cover the 60 hours the preschool is open. There is always the puzzle of how to arrange planning time, reflection time etc... knowing full well that this will result in lowering the teacher ratio - so if the guideline say we should to be x number of pedagogues for every y number of children this will radically change if 1-3 pedagogues stop interacting with the children to be able to focus on reflecting with the documentation together with colleagues.
If a high quality preschool depends on the educator:child ration are we reducing the quality by the fact educators spend and hour or more child-free reflecting? At the same time are we reducing the quality of the early years setting if we are not providing adequate reflection time?
In my research while doing my masters about quality in preschools the three educators I interviewed all mentioned this problem, only one of them had less of an issue, but this educator worked at a setting that was open 45 hours a week... it was SO much easier for them to arrange child-free time without impacting the adult/child ratios...

During my time at the conference I have listened to various presentations and talks - most have raised the importance of relationships and all have talked about the importance of reflection - amongst other things...

One of the presentations was about reflecting on documentation and what I realised is that there is a huge need not only for time for reflection but also support.
How should we be reflecting in order to improve our practice?
what kind of documentation do we need, and how should we be analysing it?
Does all kinds of reflection lead to improvement, or are some forms better than others?
Are some educators reflecting on what the children do or on how the children learn - or both, what difference does this make.
How are these reflections being documented? Are educators returning to these reflection again to deepen their understanding? Does what they learn from these processes get put into practice... and how is this documented and analysed?
Are educators being given the training in how to document, analyse, reflect and put ideas into practice?
And how do you train teachers in this... is there one method that is better than another, or are there many perspectives and approaches?

Talking about teacher training, and also with the view that we are "life-long learners" I found the presentation by Marco Snoek really interesting - with the idea we are, as educators, student, novice, experienced and master teachers... and that there are many areas within teaching that we can be at this various levels... as you see in his model image below

This got Patricia and I thinking about how should we be  supporting teachers in the training and also continued developments to go from student to master teacher over their professional lifetime (if this is what they choose)

So the idea we came up with

  • STUDENT: for 3.5 years, like it is now in Sweden to be a preschool teacher, but this can also apply to other trainee teachers
  • NOVICE: a two year period working in a school/preschool as novice teacher, with mentorship
  • the novice teacher then returns to university/college to gain more training. This gives them time to reflect on the experiences of being a teacher, the interactions with children, parents, colleagues and the curriculum to have a better understanding of what they need to learn more about to become...
  • Fully qualified teacher: they return to their setting to put some of that new found theory into action. During the following years they become an..
  • EXPERIENCED teacher. After at least 10 years of experience as a teacher there is an opportunity to return to university/college to become a
  • MASTER teacher. The interaction of years of experience can be deepened with more and relevant theory and this can then be applied back in the classroom afterwards.
I feel that this approach would allow not only the teachers to re-invigorate their teaching approaches but also for the centres of teacher training to hone their skills of preparing future children. Teachers will be able to inform the teaching colleges of what was missing in their original training, and patterns can be seen if it is the same sort of knowledge that is missing and be able to address it. For instance now I find that many new teachers are unprepared for neurodiversity and how to interact and support neurodiverse learning environments.

Reflection. There is a massive lack of time set aside for real reflection, and the above approach to teacher training and continued teacher development books in set periods of reflection.

Other mentions of reflection in the ATEE conference these last few days include...
Vinayagum Chinapah said that we should not behave in a stereotype manner and that we need to honestly look at our education systems so that we can make real and relevant change... this requires us to reflect over what is a stereotype manner and why do we not honestly evaluate our education system?
I know over the years watching colleagues evaluate our academic year that there is a loathing to not have got it right... and there will be a focus on those children we have been successful with rather than the brutal honest truth. Life is messy and complicated and I doubt any school or class can get it right for every student all of the time - but we can strive towards that and learn more about how children learn and how we teach. But it means being honest.
As an autistic person I do not lack that brutal honesty and that can be irritating at times for those I work with who want to put on a good show for the sake of the parents and the local authorities... while I appreciate that we want to ensure we maintain the confidence of the parents that we are doing a good job, that their children are safe and learning, if we sugar coat the reality we are denying ourselves opportunities to evolve for our own sake and the sake of the children.
This is why I feel we need a greater focus on how do we reflect.
Arjen Wals said in his keynote that we not only need to create but also disrupt in order to create sustainability in schools/education. He also pointed out that disrupting can make people feel uncomfortable... at let's be honest most people actively avoid feeling uncomfortable.  He went on to say that education is normative if we are not engaging in the uncomfortable questions and that there is a need for a more reflexive society.
One participant in the conference came up to me and said "you are such a passionate person" and I could read the undertones... I was questioning, yes in a passionate way - as an autistic person I am still, always, trying to monitor how to gauge it - but yes I come across as passionate and I question and will not accept, because I want to understand, not because I want to prove someone else wrong.
Yes I am a disrupter, but only when I want to learn more, or I see social injustice.  But I have always been "other" I have not fitted into that norm of education and society, neither have my children... and I also see how others in that safe little norm space treat the "others" or just stand there and allow it to happen by compliance either actively or passively (and by passively I mean they have not taken the time to reflect on the norms and how exclusive they really are).
This morning I read an article in AEON that I was tagged via facebook (The autistic view of the world is not the neurotypical cliche) and it really resonated - people with autism are being represented by a stereotype... it is if to say all people from Sweden only ate meatballs, pickled herring and potatoes, only drive volvos and saabs and spend all their free time in the forest, probably naked (as was the general giggle of British people when I said I was moving/moved to Sweden. Sweden=naked). Of course Swedish people are as diverse in their interests, tastes and life-choices as everyone else in the world... we would not treat every Swede as if they were this stereotype, but for some reason it seems OK to treat autistic people in this way, also other minority "others".
So we really do need to reflect over the stereotypes, why are they there, how do they help us and how do they hinder and how do they harm?

Masahiro Saito also talked about the importance of reflection in his presentation - saying that it is important for the teacher to not teach down at the student, but to stand with the learners in order to reflect and learn with them... that in order to teach effectively it is important to understand the learners and to then adjust the teaching to their genuine needs. By moving away from teacher-centred education to learner-centred education more space for genuine learning is created.
In other words the teacher should not just be thinking about how to fill the students with knowledge, but reflecting on how can the students access this knowledge.
Michael Teutsch talked about understanding... and the fact that we often think others understand because we like them, rather than actually checking to see if they have understood. I think this happens in the classroom but also in the teacher training institutions... that words like observation and reflection are being used with the assumption that everyone knows what they mean and how to do this... yet when a group of Palestinian educators visited Sweden last summer to learn they constantly asked the teachers how do you observe, what kind of observations do you make and how do you use them to create lesson plans or plans for learning and play? None of the teachers they asked this to was able to answer them in a way the teachers felt satisfied... the Palestinians complained, they just kept saying "we observe the children play" but never what was it they were observing, or how... etc
For me this backs up what Masahiro Saito wants for the trainee teachers... that they are not receiving an teacher-based education where there is a risk for not fully understanding how much each student comprehends and whether they are actually able to apply the theory, but that it should be learner based so that there is an understanding of how the trainee teachers (learners in a classroom too) are interpreting and comprehending the theory. Only this way can we assure that educators are adequately equipped for their future profession.

Teutsch also said that education should be about everyone being able to see themselves and understand who they are and learn to be a part of society - the norm being so restrictive we prevent people from seeing themselves - instead we are forced to see the norm and to try and adapt to that.

I think there is an educational norm. A norm to how we view teaching. This teaching norm makes it really hard for children like my son who struggle to participate in that learning norm... as Masahiro Saito said... we always assume the norm that everyone wants to learn and that we are life-long learners... what happens if someone does not want to learn. (My son does not like the process of learning... at least in the way it is being presented... this does not mean he does not learn, he learns all the time, but he is not driven by the desire to learn... like I am for example. This, over the years has been hard for me to understand, yes I have accepted who he is, but not until I heard Masahiro Saito's words yesterday did it fully sink in that I am looking at learning forma normative standpoint. 
Its like saying all children can play. But then it depends on how you define play - and also if a certain play style results in a child being excluded or harming others...

Life is so much more complicated than the normative bubble that is fed to us... especially through the school system.

Hanneke Jones talked about the power of dialogue, philosophy for children - an approach I really appreciate and have used a great deal with children and adults over the last 5-6 years. Here the power of reflection is being shared with the children.. it is not simply the teachers being reflective, but the children being reflective together. Hanneke Jones researched strived to find out if this form of interaction could support children to be more creative thinkers. It was thoroughly interesting to watch the process of the research and the amount of educator reflection needed to reflect on what is creative thinking, how do we know that they are developing their creative thinking and what is it that enables their creative thinking. Hanneke had a whole day, as part of her research degree to reflect on this... how often are teachers afforded this - I was going to write luxury, but really it is a necessity.

Monique Leigraaf reflected on the power of knowledge... does the teacher sit with all the power... if knowledge is deemed as power - seeing the child as an empty vessel that needs to be filled (really made me connect to the Reggio Emilia Approach and the view of the competent child) or should we be sharing that power, like Masahiro Saito, come "down" to the sphere of the child/learner to discover what the children already know and to build from there... but also to allow the children to learn from each other. This was something the children in Gästrike Vatten's Board of Children made clear in our evaluation with them in May, that they realised that they could all learn from each other, and not just the adults, that they became active listeners not just having to listen to the teacher, and the oldest child was happily surprised that she could learn from others that were 4 years her junior.
The teacher down system does rely on the fact the older you are the better you are.
I think that age does allow us to gain more experience and more knowledge... but there is an equality in our capacity to learn (of course we do not all learn the same things, or in the same way or that all of us learn according to the learning norm - but there is an equality in our humanity). In other words... when I talk with my preschoolers or older children I go in with the agenda that I will learn from them and that I will share my experience and my knowledge when needed. It can be that I learn new facts... that they have been to places and done things or read things that I have not - it might be that I learn more about the children, as an individual, as a group, how they learn etc etc. I go to the group as teacher and learner... and encourage the children to also come as teacher and learner.

Monique Leigraaf referred to Ranciere several times during her presentation and his explanation that we are dumbing down children by always coming from an explanatory point of view... that we need to be allowing space for the children to reflect and work together to find out.

When listening to Hanneke Jones I struggled a little digesting her research because I was filled with my experience and knowledge of using philosophy with children... and really listening to someone's research condensed into 20 minutes does not give you much space to reflect and assimilate the density of the information being shared. Especially as I come from a focus of community where her focus was on creative thinking. During a dialogue session about themes we were noticing in the conference György Mésáros mentioned his deep appreciation of small scale research where details could be noticed which was countered by Dubravka Knezic who said there was also a need for a complete picture, ie research on a bigger and wider scale.  The group came to the conclusion that there was a need of wide scale research with small in-depth research to ensure a holistic understanding. Otherwise there is the risk of certain bubbles of knowledge which might not be representative.
On Monday evening I chatted with Eero Ropo about education in Finland and Sweden, as I had raised earlier in the day that Swedish preschools were not always this perfect educational approach that the rest of the world sees... he said that this was also true of Finnish schools... that the rest of the world was cherry picking the best elements and not seeing the complete picture. This is in no way to put down the Finnish or swedish educational system... but maybe we all need to reflect without rose-tinted glasses. Which brings me back to the point that Chinapah said in the first keynote talk... that we need to look honestly at what we are doing.

Arjen Wals said that education should be for people and the planet and not for the economy like it is now. That the economy should be there to serve us. He also said that there are many groups in society that create doubt so that people do not change their habits (think global climate, additives etc etc) - this got me wondering whether the same is being done in education... is doubt being created so that change does not happen. I mean why do teachers around the world stay in a profession they feel is not productive or the best for the children/students they work with. Why do we consent to the policies? Why do we comply?
This brings me to Anja Swennen's presentation on the history of teacher training colleges in The Netherlands during the Second World War and how they complied with the Nazi's to remove books with Jewish etc content and accept the nazification of the training programme. The reason given is that the teachers thought it would pass... it was just a phase... very few made a stand against it.

I keep reading about the need to revolutionise education, to change it etc and have done for many many years now... and I also hear a frustration of nothing happening... is this like what Chinapah shared - NATO - standing for No Action Talk Only.?
So how do we create a disrutpive capacity in ur schools in order to create sustainability... where sustainability is not just climate, economic but also social etc...

Should we be doing things better or doing better things?

Some things contradicted each other in the conference... for example while many were talking about the need for community, empathy, care - including Arjen Wals who said building trust is essential, that if people don't like each other they will not be able to take advantage of the diversity. We need to care. Empathy is key. Johan Liljestrand on the other hand said that there are risks that happen with caring and and that education and care should not be mixed. Personally I am a big believer in educare... the need for professional love that Jools Page has researched. If we are seeing care as risky and removing it then creating a community of learners becomes so much harder, as it is based on caring for each other, teacher and children alike.
of course there was not enough time to find out exactly what Liljestrand meant by "risks that happen with caring".

But as Hanneke Jones explained - she saw a correlation between disagreements and creative thinking. So maybe taking the time to reflect on these two opposing ideas of care - as something risky and something positive can lead to some profound thinking?

I have now written more than I first intended, but I have a lot of thoughts to try and sort out... and as you see I am far from finished reflecting on the last few days.

I hope this has given you food for thought about reflection and the importance of making time for it. And I hope that we can impact policy that enables real genuine reflection for teachers together with colleagues to reflect.

After the photos of quotes are a few links to posts that connect to this thinking



links
The story of otherism - about how the norm excludes...
The Story of a Hug - about the need for care, and about some problems..
Scaffolding Inquiry - exploring how this can be done
The Story of Communication part 3 - this post is about the need to reflect on our own bias and how it impacts us as teachers
The story of sustainability - rather relevant since this was a reflection based on a conference with the theme about sustainable schools and preschools

I look through my posts and see plenty that would be relevant to shre here... but will leave it at these.

In the coming week a Swedish translation will follow these links...

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Story of Communication... part 3

This is just going to be a quick post... as I sit working on a small guideline to participate in a project with democracy, equality, diversity and inclusion being the cornerstones as part of my work as pedagogical consultant/guide for a preschool.

Communication is such a huge part of this...
How we communicate with our bodies, our tone and our words... how we allow our own prejudices communicate, often without our own awareness. This is why it is so important to discuss these with your colleagues...

You need to discuss what are the principles for an inclusive culture in your setting - what does inclusion mean, and how do you achieve this... who do you need to communicate and collaborate with to gain the tools you need to create this inclusive culture.

We need to embrace diversity, equality and integration/inclusion - seeing it as a rich source of learning for all the children rather than a problem.
How do we see what the children communicate as a source of learning rather than as a problem?

We need to critically reflect on our own personal attitudes and values and how they impact the children... this means not only looking at how you view the child, but also how you view the teacher... but also other values about language, ability, religion, sexuality etc etc - how do your opinions impact the children... as I do not believe that we can be objective, and I don't think we should be, but what we should strive for is an awareness of how our own opinions impact others... as communication is so much more than words... all attempts at saying the right thing and trying to be objective will not work if body language is communicating another story to the children...

For instance when my children were young I had other parents come to me and tell me that their children said that one of the teachers did not like my son... Despite the fact that this teacher always strived to be professional and say the right thing her body and tone were communicating so clearly something else that not only my son was picking it up but also the other children in the group. How aware are we of this kind of communication? This is why it is so important to personally reflect, and also reflect as a team about the "challenges" of  working with children. I mean sometimes the chemistry is just going to be wrong, and often we can ensure that other adults can do more of the interacting with that child until you have dealt with the chemistry and make the communication less toxic (for the child or yourself) - I have worked with children that have pushed my buttons (as all educators will do) and I have made the personal decision to always be honest and say to a colleague when I need a pause from a child in order to keep the communication positive - often it is due to patience running out, and batteries need to be recharged, but sometimes a child can just get under your skin in an irritating way, and you just need the time to reflect why, and also to talk with others so that you can refocus.
I am grateful that in the Swedish preschool system we are more than one teacher to a group, this means when I am having an issue with a child I can hand over responsibility to another adult for a while and seek help (through reflection, reading and looking for strategies, and talking with colleagues about how they interact and what strategies they use... and often see the child in a new light). I am honest with my colleagues, not just myself... and this then allows me the time to work out how to interact positively with the child. If we are always trying to kid ourselves that we get on with all of the children all of the time then we are not giving ourselves the time to evolve as a human and educator... it also means the children get to pick up on that story you are trying so hard not to communicate.
By being open with colleagues, we can learn about their struggles too... and learn from them and offer advice, that can help you in the future too.

We need to be active in testing out creative ways to be inclusive. To share ideas and test them out, evaluate them - sometimes just amongst colleagues, sometimes with the children... we need to play and test ideas not just talk about them. Theory into practice... otherwise it just is mouth-service...  it feels like you are getting things done, when there is no real impact for the children...

We need to be constantly discussing, and evaluating.

So, How do we learn to become comfortable with difference?
How does education impact the fundamental values of children?
How do you carry and communicate your culture? What is your culture?
How willing are you to listen to the cultures of others? And in what capacity?
How do you communicate between colleagues in front of the children? Is this a role-model for good social interactions or is it fraught? How does this impact the children? What can be done about it?
What is the diversity in your setting? Language, religion, race, culture, gender, age, ability, family structure etc etc... there is always diversity. How is this included and valued? Does everyone feel included? Do some get more space to talk, play, be noisy, participate... why? Why don't the others?


I think these are enough questions for this post to get you thinking about how you communicate based on your own personal fundamental values... how do yours relate to that of colleagues, the children and their families and the rest of society?


Monday, 6 August 2018

The story of ... otherism

There is a sense of great sorrow and frustration within me at the moment as I try to deal with what is happening in my family and what is happening around the world.



On Friday my son started medicating for his ADHD - he has a diagnosis of autism/ADHD and t it has been a constant uphill battle with the school system to try and create a learning environment that encourages him to learn... something that we have not yet achieved. He is constantly seen as a problem, despite people who meet him outside of school being able to see him as wonderful, creative, passionate and caring, this is the absolute opposite of how the school sees him, and it breaks my heart that he is not viewed as him but as an "other" - something that has to be dealt with as a problem - and most often as a problem for the other students in the classroom rather than the problem he has with them and the way they teach.
So they always address the wrong issues and seldom address the real underlying issue that he has yet to find meaning in this school system. Homeschooling is illegal here, it is not an option. He has made the decision himself to medicate as a way to make school easier. I hate the fact that my son needs to medicate to enable him to go to school... to enable him to be more like the others on the outside... that who is is not acceptable.

Working philosophically with young children... and letting that approach permeate all my interactions with the children... i discovered that children include if we stop "othering". That we are all just sharing opinions, experience and approaches to life... and they all have value... that we all react to experiences in different ways, and that is OK, and we learn how to create a learning and play spaces together that do not contain too many of these experiences that make individual stressed and anxious, and we learn how to help each other through these experiences if they do happen... not the teacher/educator fixing the "other" and helping them become more like the norm, but the whole group expanding the norm and including people as they are. No others... just we...

Yesterday I spent a lot of time trying to moderate dialogue about cultural appropriation... this is an incredibly important topic... it is part of this otherism. We need to gain a better understanding of minority groups, oppressed people... these "others". We need to work out how to include them rather than change them to be a part of the norm.

As part of my story of communication series I have been bringing this up... you can read the first two posts..
the first in the series.... about our role as adults learning to communicate to include. and the second in the series which is about how the room communicates with the children (and adults) and creates welcoming and inclusive environments that encourage play and learning.

But today I feel so much frustration and sorrow.

I have a strong belief that the way forward is to communicate so that others listen... if we are hostile, rude or put others down to promote our agenda then people will not be able to hear the importance of what you have to say they will spend time protecting themselves from the discomfort and offence...
 instead of listening to learn.
I want people to learn from each other... but sometimes there feels like there is a competition to be the most politically correct... and I have struggled in the last 24 hours with trying to deal with is my non-violent approach (verbally non-violent too) the right way... or am I being complicit to oppression as I was being accused of...

Today in my twitter feed the timely words of the Dalai Lama helped me with my thinking

Human beings are social animals and it is love that brings us together, while anger drives us apart. To live more peacefully, and joyfully in our daily lives, we need a warm heart

I am going to stand by the fact that communicating in a non-violent way is the best way forward.
yes we can be passionate - but not at the expense of others 

I think sometimes people have too much of an agenda which blinds them and deafens them to the stories of others - they are so quick to share their agenda and ensure that others hear it (and often these are agendas that need to be heard) that they do not take the time to find the story of the person they are attacking. Because it is delivered with such passion that the person on the receiving end is belittled and sometimes accused of things that they are not... and then they feel the need to defend themselves and their story - and so the message that is so important gets lost - because it becomes about the emotions and not the content.

I wrote in my story of communication about how I feel that debate is about how well the person puts their message across rather than the message... this is why I like to dialogue... because, for me it is about learning together... as in our philosophy sessions... we are a community of learners... not two opinions trying to prove themselves right.

Yesterday I read an article about parenting... the difference between reactive and responsive parenting... and I think this is what I am striving for... that we have responsive dialogues rather than reactive...
Even though we can often be justified for having our reaction, our emotions, and that far too many are suffering from being oppressed... the problem is that if we are reactionary in how we communicate then people will react back. But if we communicate our story (with passion, and explain our emotions, but without the rude tone, or angry tone, or the need to put others down or ridicule) then we increase the chances of people responding...

I have repeatedly shared the ted talk about the danger of the single story... and I feel I need to share it here again...


By telling the many varied, diverse stories... and valuing them... we can avoid otherism. By being aware that this is happening, that our lives are often built on a single story then we can also avoid otherism.

I share the below pictures again, these that I shared in my first Story of Communication post... because this, for me demonstrates this otherism...

We have these "others" that are not a part of our local social norm... and what is often seen as correct is that we invite them in to our social norm... this often requires them to change and adapt. Of course there are many things done to these "others" outside the norm that are done to push them further out, to make them more different... to oppress.

But even in these attempts to invite them into the norm, the focus is always on their "otherness" and not our similarities


What I really want is to expand the norm so that the "others" can become a part of the norm as they are... this will mean everyone will learn about each other, adapt, accept and understand.

I saw preschoolers able to do that. Without a shadow of a doubt young children can do this if we give them the space and the time and the tools - and also share our own adult power with them... that I, as an educator, do not sit with my adult norm and invite their child otherness into the norm... but expand that norm so that childhood is an active part of the democratic norm in our learning and play.


It sounds so simple, but for some reason it does not seem to be... I think it comes down to trust...


I think the education system needs to change... and fast... to be more inclusive...

In the second post about communication I wrote how the environment can exclude and also offend by teachers/educators not being aware of what the room says... or it invites, or prohibits and also how it sometimes uses other cultures inappropriately so that it creates "othering".

There are far too many people in this world that actively use otherism to further their agenda. We have seen how Trump and his party and those that support him have used otherism to justify their barbaric way of treating families at the borders...

In a way Trump can be a great example of why we should communicate peacefully rather than with anger... during clashes earlier this year in the USA Trump said both sides were to blame... as he was able to pick at a few people who protested with violence... instead of focussing on what the real message was... on the content of the protest. The message got lost somewhat. And I feel this was a message that should not have got lost it needs to be heard loud and clear.

Otherism is sadly far too easy to create. During the second world war the European Jews, homosexuals, people with disabilities and other "others" were at first the subject of "otherism" to pave the way for the most dispicable persecution to occur where millions suffered and died because they were excluded from the norm.
There are stories of oppression around the world and throughout history. Stories of otherism.
We need to start hearing the stories of these people. We need to listen. We need to see the humanity and respond with humanity.

My contribution is to support children with their listening skills... to listen to understand... to share their opinions, to enter dialogues to be a community of learners, to listen to the opinions of others and value them even if they do not agree... to listen with respect.

Discovering that the life you lived is based on a single story... and that story was cruel and fed off the suffering of others is incredibly uncomfortable... but this discomfort should not be confused with the discomfort of dealing with someone who uses anger to tell their story... then there is a different kind of discomfort... not with the realisation that we do not know or understand but with the fact a person is being punished and reprimanded for their ignorance, instead of being allowed to learn and make better and more informed decisions.
I want children in my care to be exposed to multiple stories - to go out actively searching for more stories and not just accept the one story they are being fed in society... to think critically, creatively and empathically.
I think if all educators do this... then we stand a chance of peace in the future.
The incredibly sad part is that many people around the world are not free to tell multiple stories - they can be punished for deviating from the single story.

Today I posted this dream on my personal facebook page... and also on instagram, Twitter and my Interaction Imagination page.

I am also busy adding people to the map of International Fairy Tea Party - a global celebration of play and imagination... not just for the children to have their own personal play (which is incredibly important in this day where play is becoming all more endangered) but to be a part of a global community - to learn about other countries around the world and that we are united in play and imagination... and also the choice of having the celebration on the equinox (autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern) means that we all share the same number of daylight hours... we might not have the same cultures, languages or resources but we can be united through daylight, play and imagination. It is about learning about others, not creating otherism. About respect, joy and connection. There are many countries across five continents that have already signed up - and everyone is encouraged to play within their own context.

Why not join in this celebration as a way of learning more stories about this world we share.

below are some quotes I would like to share...