Wednesday 24 May 2017

Visit to "Bild och Tanke" preschool...

I spent a morning at Bild och Tanke preschool today, found in the suburbs of Stockholm. Bild och Tanke means Image and Thought.

It was lovely to be back in an environment designed for children. This is a small preschool... and it is with intention that it is small. On my way home my mind raced about the obvious benefits I saw for these children attending a small preschool.. there were less relationships to manage, fewer other children to compete with for adult attention... and no matter what you tell me about wanting children to be independent and competent and all that (I want that too) - I remember so clearly How I wanted adult approval, adult attention... I remember that feeling of being special if I got it... and I know this should not be the case, I know that children should not desire that need for approval... but i think it is there within us all no matter how old we are... as children I/we sought approval of adults... and as adults we seek approval of our bosses... as humans we want to be seen, we want to be heard, we want to be valued... and being one of 25 is much easier than being 1 of 40 or 50 or more... even if the adult ratio is the same... I have got to the point where I need to check out some research into this... so if there is anyone reading this that can recommend some good papers/research to read, please add the recommendation to the comments...

So why do I mention that the children had a benefit?
I was there for only 2.5 hours... but during this time, my first visit ever... the children were all confident in asking who I was, why I was there, how long I would be staying... introducing themselves etc. I also saw how they helped each other, how they said kind things and complemented each other (and me) and also how the apologised for accidents and also accepted happenings as accidents... this I shall go into more detail...

Two children had spent quite some time constructing a series of sandcastles, with a complex story attached of what they were and who lived there and how many rooms there were in each castle.
Some other children came over to look... one of them balanced on the edge of the sandbox and accidently lost balanced and partially destroyed the biggest and so-labelled most beautiful castle. The child with a destructive foot moved quickly to the side.. he looked at the scene of destruction, and looked at the two children who had built it... they had not noticed... the child could have moved on and no-one would know. There was a slight pause... then the child said...
"I was balancing here and my foot slipped here, and the castle fell down like this... I did not mean to, I lost my balance. Sorry"
The children who had built the castle looked at the castle then looked at the apologetic child and one of them answered
"Its OK. We can build more"
The educator close by added..
"Maybe it is now a ruin... many old castles become ruins over time?"
"Yes, yes" many of the children said... as there were quite a few collected at the sandbox now.. at least 6... "it is a ravine"
In Swedish ruin and ravine rhyme. (Roo-een / ravv-een)

The play then carried on... all the children now involved with building, digging holes, filling up holes with water etc, making a few more ruins...

If the children were less secure (and I have seen this) then there would have been not the confidence to own up to this mistake, there would not have been the strength to accept that others make mistakes - many think they do stuff on purpose... and there would not have been the joy of being able to then play together with very little adult interaction...

The whole outdoor area was filled with children in groups busy exploring one thing or another... those children wanting/needing to run had an area they could do this without disturbing the gentle busy-ness going on... in the "pit" (a small mound with a slight dent in the top like a nest) was filled with loose parts that could be used to construct cocoons  - and activity connected to the children's interest in the butterfly cocoons found inside... in the middle were also images of cocoons belonging to other insects... not just butterflies so the children were making and reflecting on what could be inside their cocoon... the educator busy taking down notes...

I think with the preschool being smaller it not only means the children do not have as many relationships to manage... it also means the educators have fewer too... this means each child can be seen and listened to on a deeper level...

Well these are my observations and my reflections - having worked at both small and large preschools and also visited both small and large ones too..
but I am keen to follow this and learn more...
BUT first I am to communicate with Jenin... another skype meeting and then the next in the series about pedagogical documentation... THEN I can start exploring this idea..
Meanwhile enjoy these two images of the garden from Bild och Tanke.

Monday 15 May 2017

Updated version of "The Relevance of Malaguzzi in ECE"

It is one of my most read posts... and yet when I read it I see the gaping holes I would loved to have filled if I had had more word space... it was an assignment as part of my masters...
So I have returned to the paper and added a few more reflections... and since there was a request to be able to download it and have more access to it, I have made it into a downloadable pdf file...
you just need to click on this link

The Relevance of Malaguzzi in ECE

and it should take you to another page where you can read online, or download for later.

I hope it inspires some further thinking, or gets you going as you start your journey in the Reggio Emilia Approach, for whatever reason you read this... I hope that it offers you something.

all the best

not often there are images of me here... but just so you get an idea of who I am behind this blog... well sort of...

Tuesday 9 May 2017

making changes... (Palestine)

One of the great honours of being a part of this course being held for educators in Jenin, Palestine is seeing things they have learned about, or been inspired by put into action... and more importantly seeing these being positively received, by the educators, the parents and most importantly the children too.

Many of the teachers reported that their children had said that sitting inside at the table learning to write was their least favourite part of the day, I have also visted some of the kindergartens/preschools and have seen that space is a premium in many of them... many children in a small indoor space... so taking to the outdoors I feel is an important next step for learning and play.
Not only because outdoors it will be easier for the educators to create that play/learn/work cocktail that is so beneficial for children but also as there is more space for the children too. The weather in Jenin seldom gets cold for the children to need gloves etc outside... in fact my experience of their short winter is that it is colder inside than outside then...
the problem will be keeping the children cool and safe from the blaring sun during the long summer... ensuring there is ample shade outside.

I had shared images of  Palestinian bedouin tents to inspire for a reading corner/area both inside and outside...  and at one of the kindergarten/preschools a large tented area was created in their garden... they are lucky to have such a large garden, that until the course started was not being used to its full potential.

here are some images taken by Kauther, who runs the kindergarten of the new outdoor area for reading, role-play.... and as I left there were ideas to taking construction materials into the tented area too. The role-play was with traditional Palestinian artefacts... as a way to allow the children to feel pride and connection with their cultural heritage...

at both ends of the tented area books are made available.. making sure the fronts of the books are visible to entice the children to read.

some of the artefacts available for role-play

a front view of the outdoor reading and role-play area
in action... story telling

roleplay in action

a final view of the area... situated among the olive trees. A walled garden paradise in Jenins refugee camp.

In the summer there can be more fabric placed over the top to create shade. The content of the tent can be rotated... sometimes for role-play, sometimes construction, story telling - maybe art and experiments?
Maybe sometimes a smaller version can be made? Or several ones... like a small village with little homes?
There are so many possibilities when taking learning outside.