Two different posts this week - both with a similar message and I just could not keep quiet! What are we doing to our young children? Why do adults think it is acceptable to shame children publicly, to judge them, to expect all children to be the same, to conform, that there is no place for individuality or creativity? Adults have a choice; to undermine children's attempts or to support believing children as capable and competent.
I believe that educators will not intentionally do anything to harm children, we only know what we know but it is through an open mind and research that we can find new ways of working fairly and justly. I will put my hand up as having made many mistakes in my long career but hope that I have always been quick to rectify once I realise there are better ways of working.
Post 1 Behaviour Charts
I have always cringed when I see public behaviour charts, is it fair to show up the children who are not able to conform to the teachers standards? Not just in charts but verbally too. I put myself in the place of the child, would I want to be picked out because I can't sit still on the floor, wasn't able to do the mental arithmetic, didn't tidy up as well as the next child? This public humiliation is not helpful and not fair. Every child has a story which may be untold. Surely as mature adults we support, mentor and boost self esteem rather than undermine!
How many adults would cope with such public humiliation? Why should small children be expected to cope? It may be very hard, it may be impossible for that individual. What is their story?
"Publicly displaying a child’s negative behavior ultimately destroys self-esteem and self-respect. It is degrading and doesn’t reflect true child development which needs to recognize all the small successes and failures that are a natural part of growing up. Growth and Development isn’t black and white or green, yellow, and red. Charts like the stop light system essentially indicates to everyone in the room that someone has failed today and there is no room for failure in this classroom or that someone has had a successful day and to be successful, you must be like everyone else." Thank you to Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. more from Teach Preschool
Post 2 Skill Charts
One is bad enough but then a collection of colouring in guide charts appeared with sad faces for not colouring in the lines. What if the child has a developmental delay, poor muscle tone or other reason for not being able to stay within the lines? What will it do to the child's self esteem? A sad face if the child's interpretation of colour is not the same as the adult? Who says stars are always yellow? A sad face if there are white spaces, why?
Then a star chart with a slight difference, this time more than two colours have to be used to 'get' 3 stars, what if the object only has the one colour? Interestingly, the sun below gets 3 stars although it is only one colour, yellow!
Another version of the colouring in chart, this time apparently after training around this strategy. Why can trees not have autumn colours? In gum trees come with a multitude of different coloured and textured tree trunks. No white spaces now means filling the whole page. WHY? (more about the 'Bump it up' strategy at the end of this post)
What is the intentional teaching behind all of these? What is the adult trying to achieve?
Creativity? I don't think so!
Eye-hand co-ordination? Let them play and this will develop naturally.
Fine-motor development? As above
Following instructions? Surely there are more motivational ways!
Developing a particular skill? Mmmmm......what?
Relaxation? Not with a judgement and sad faces!
We need creative innovators for the future development of society.
Let's encourage creative thinking and not conformity.
Bump It Up - I was curious about this concept of 'Bump it up' so googled it and came across a range of images, some obviously not linked to academics!!
'Bump it up' is about meeting the Premier’s Priority to increase the proportion of NSW students in the top two NAPLAN bands for reading and numeracy by 8% by 2019. Setting clear targets and goals for older students to work towards and achieve in maths and literacy. I can see the benefit of understanding the goal but should the children's names be publicly linked to the level they have achieved? I do not believe this is the intention of the strategy, Would we do this to adults studying?
Judith on a Bam Radio interview, believes that displaying records of children's progress in public view may actually be illegal!!!
Confidentiality plays a role but most importantly to me is that children develop at different rates, I believe children are all geniuses and each one should be celebrated. Good self esteem and confidence leads to success.
Let's celebrate all those unique abilities.
Disclaimer: All images are found publicly on Facebook, Google or Pinterest.
This is a sentence that stood out for me! Why? Because it is a fact that is so often not acknowledged. Not only that, this was a comment made in recognition of an outdoor nursery's great achievement and well earned award as Overall School of the Year in the UK!
On a recent trip to the UK I was extremely privileged to spend a day at Boldon Outdoor Nursery School where I met up with Sue Stokoe and the dedicated team who had recently won not only Early Years Setting of the Year but also Overall School of the Year.
What does 'getting it right' look like?
An indoor space full of natural, real life opportunities.
Permanently OPEN DOORS to the outside
A playground with 'spirit', culturally relevant. The Beach.
Appropriate clothing and open ended opportunities.
Adults who value and protect TIME. Unhurried and without unnecessary adult agendas
Opportunities for children to challenge themselves with sensitive adult interaction
A close connection to animals, respectful and caring.
A Wild Space, full of adventurous opportunities
A gathering space to rest, to have conversations, to keep warm and to have a snack
A place to be hidden, out of sight of the adult
A warm, cosy shelter outdoors to snuggle up and BE
A place where friendships and connections are naturally formed
Where families feel valued
These are just a few of my observations of a beautiful centre that is getting it right early on.....Thank you and CONGRATULATIONS on the well deserved acknowledgment of what is important in children's lives.