Growing Independence

IMG_9888There is something so endearing about watching children see a classmate in need and take the initiative to help.

I began to wonder:

How did they become so helpful?

Did someone tell them to do that?

Did they do it naturally?

Do they see their family helping each other at home?

Over a few weeks I began to take photos and watch how the process has come to be.

The track out back offers a multitude of opportunities for the children to observe each other struggling to get up the hill. They know that it is a challenge to get the larger and heavier bikes up the hill. But it seems that they purposely choose the bigger bike that will require the help of someone else.

At the beginning of the year the children would call for an adult to push them up the hill. It was nice to see them ask for help and get some assistance. But soon it became a full time position for our parents.

I wanted to see the  children gain more independence and work together with their peers to overcome the hill. I suggested that they ask a friend for help. I suggested that they get off their bike and push it themselves. I suggested to others not riding a bike that they might look for those that need some help.

My suggestions were not popular at first. It was easier for the adults to do it. It was laborious to get off and push it themselves. It took effort to convince a friend to help them.

But after a few weeks of practice, I began to see it working. They asked their friends to help. They got off and pushed it themselves. There were others standing by waiting to help those who needed it. IMG_9887

I could see how both those who asked for help and those who helped a fellow classmate had their confidence and self-esteem grow. They began to work together with their peers and friendships were starting to form.

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They enjoy the independence. It empowers them to know that they are capable of solving problems.

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Jim Taylor, Ph.D. who specializes in the psychology of parenting suggests that, “Independence is not something that your children can gain on their own. They have neither the perspective, experience, nor skills to develop independence separately from you. Rather, it is a gift you give your children that they will cherish and benefit from their entire lives. You can provide your child with several essential ingredients for gaining independence:

  • Give your children love and respect.
  • Show confidence in your children’s capabilities.
  • Teach them that they have control over their lives.
  • Provide guidance and then give them the freedom to make their own decisions.”

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It takes special effort on everyone’s part to cultivate this sense of independence in our children. The results will be rewarding as we help build their confidence one push up the hill at a time.

Welcome to the 2014-2015 School Year!

The sweet two-year-olds in our Tot Class enjoyed their first two days of preschool at LCP!  New people, new routines, a new place–this can certainly be a daunting experience for little ones (and even some of us grown-ups!).  Yet when they are accompanied and supported by a loving caregiver throughout our school day, the Tots immerse themselves in a multitude of exciting new experiences with confidence and enthusiasm.  Activities included finger painting, collaging, rolling playdough, mixing Ooblick,  scooping colorful cooked pasta in the sensory table, outdoor play in the sand and on trikes, group snack time, and general exploration of their new classroom.

A new school year, especially for little ones just beginning their preschool journeys, always holds the promise of so much possibility.

What new experiences await?

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What theories will be tested?

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What friendships will flourish?

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The kids are mixing up a lot of fun at LCP…and we can’t wait to see what they discover!

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Investigation: Scented Foaming Paint

If you need some investigation pointers, look no further. The tot class are professionals. Follow these simple steps for success.

Step 1: If you don’t know what it is, look at it real close and smell it.

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Step 2: Poke it with whatever is nearby.

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Step 3: Try touching it with your hands.

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Step 4: Get your friend to also dig it out with her hands.

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Step 5: Paint with it.

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Try the recipe at home.

Tempura paint matched with a packet of the same color Koolaid. Sprinkle in the KoolAid and watch the magic happen. The magic is explained HERE.

 

You’ve Got to Read This Book

The book All Joy and No Fun is an honest and intelligent book about modern day parenting. The author, Jennifer Senior, from the start, acknowledges that unlike other parenting books, this book is not about how to parent, instead it is a book about what parenting does to us.

Her in-depth use of relevant studies and historical perspectives creates a portrait of who we have become as parents and how becoming a parent drastically changes our lives.

One specific chapter reminded me of why I send my kids to Loomis Community Preschool. While Senior is not trying to advocate for play-based learning (she is simply trying to explain the simple gifts that children bring to our lives), her words are reminders of why play-based learning is so important for children.

 

“Children learn about the world through doing, touching, experiencing; adults, on the other hand, tend to take in the world through their heads–reading books, watching television, swiping at touch screens. They’re estranged from the world of everyday objects. Yet interacting with that world is fundamental to who we are” (All Joy and No Fun Jennifer Senior 104).

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Children are being expected at much younger ages to learn as adults learn. We, as adults, forget that what works for us, does not work for them. We can give them all the answers, or we can let them discover them for themselves. Loomis Community Preschool teachers create an environment where children are allowed and encouraged to discover.

 

“Early childhood is when we first gain control of our bodies and develop our motor skills. Toddlers and preschoolers acquire knowledge in ways that are inseparable from their physical experiences” (All Joy and No Fun Jennifer Senior 106).

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A preschooler’s mind is not an adult mind. So why do we try to teach a preschooler in the same way we teach an adult: pencil and paper? A child who can write his letters does not make for a knowledgable child. But instead, a child who has been given the opportunity to physically experience the world, will attain knowledge with every touch, every jump, every stumble, every prick, every bruise. I am thankful that Loomis Community Preschool encourages the physicality of the preschooler’s body and mind. I am thankful for dancing and climbing and digging and raking and rolling and running and pounding.

 

“Children remind us just how much of our implicit knowledge, which hums inaudibly in the background all day long, is stuff we once had to learn. They climb into the bathtub partially clothed, put half-eaten bananas in the refrigerator, use toys in ways the manufacturer never intended. (So you want to mix those paints rather than make pictures with them? Lay stickers on top of one another rather than lay them out side by side? Use dominos as blocks, cars as flying machines, tutus as bridal veils? Knock yourself out!). No one has yet told them otherwise. To children, the whole universe is a controlled experiment (All Joy and No Fun Jennifer Senior 107).

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Oh, how many times have I cringed as a child sits at the art station, squirting glue all over her paper. “No, no, no!” I want to say. But at Loomis Community Preschool, the children are not told that glue is for gluing and paint is for painting. This allows not only for more true creativity, but it allows for children to explore. And although I want my children to know how to follow directions and I want them to know that often in life we are told “No!” I more so want them to have great minds. And throughout history individuals did not earn the label of “Great Mind” by using things the way they have always been used. Instead, the Great Minds of history were innovators, experimenters, explorers. They were people who were willing to say, at the age of 3, “I see that everyone else is painting with that paintbrush and creating pretty pictures, but I wonder what would happen if I poured all this glue onto my paper and left it there? Oh and maybe I will squish it a little. What happens then?” Pretty pictures, maybe not, but at LCP we are developing great minds.

 

“Most adults consider philosophy a luxury. But philosophy, it turns out, is what children do naturally, and when they do, they take us, back to that remote and almost unimaginably luxurious time when we ourselves still asked loads of questions that had no point. In fact, according to Gareth B. Matthews, author of The Philosophy of Childhood, asking pointless questions is the true specialty of children, especially between the ages of three and seven, because the instinct hasn’t yet been drummed out of them.” (All Joy and No Fun Jennifer Senior 107-108).

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Circle time at Loomis Community Preschool is the epitome of philosophy. As the adults laugh awkwardly at the statements and questions being thrown around, we don’t interrupt and we don’t belittle. We discuss cuts and bruises, we wonder about the illustrations on the page of circle time books, we reveal simple details from our weekends, we are not afraid to go off on tangents. The adults in the room can laugh all they want. But is it possible that it is the children in the circle who should actually be laughing at us, because we ask so few questions, and say so few words to one another, out of fear of what others might think.

Touch. Experience. Experiment. Philosophize. The next great innovators will probably be products of your local play-based preschool.

Natural Genius

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In public schools, children are taught the Scientific Method in the 5th grade. But here at LCP, we have found that children are natural geniuses. The have an innate sense of discovery within them. They have the determination to work at something until they figure it out even at the age of two.

Here we have a frozen block of ice with a polar bear trapped inside.

Observation:

 

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Using their senses

 

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Trying to get him out with sand

 

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And some more sand.

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Didn’t work? How about water?

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How about 2 or 3 watering cans full of water?

 

 

 

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How about if I stand on it?

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‘Traveling Restaurants’ at Loomis Community Preschool

If you are in the neighborhood and have a hearty appetite, be sure to stop by Loomis Community Preschool during the 3/4 day class.

They are very serious about cooking, creating, and distributing their delicious meals.

The menu varies from “Healthy” Spaghetti to Meat and Carrot Soup. You can even find coffee for a mere “20..100…14,15,16 dollars.”

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Customers spotted the delicious buffet of choices from as far away as the swings.

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Once customers came and tried the delicious menu…

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they decided to try out their own traveling restaurants.

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Some decided to work in partnerships baking cakes

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While others worked side by side selling their own creations.IMG_7208

If you are hungry, be sure to stop by!