We give our children a great gift when we allow them to truly be IN nature. They have an innate connection with this beautiful earth of ours, but they can only maintain this connection with our support. They need unstructured time outdoors, playing in nature, and with all the treasures it has to offer.
We can take inspiration for how to be with children outdoors by looking at how gardeners nurture the plants in their garden. We can aspire to this more gentle, non-interfering manner than to the traditionally thought of ‘teaching teacher’.
In a society where the ‘novelty bug’ is rife, Christmas offers us a beautiful opportunity to go for tradition instead. Rather than brand new decorations every year we can have recurring ones that can be looked forward to each year. Seeing these back in the environment reminds everyone what time of year it is, while still being ‘special’ enough to light eyes up year after year.
When you think of Christmas in ECE settings you may be thinking things like the tacky tinsel on mantels and sills, the ‘no-personality crafts’ where every child’s collage is the same, and some half-hearted kiddy songs about Santa. We’ve probably all seen examples of this. And even though it’s supposed to be a joyous time of year, you can see how these ‘lifeless’ attempts actually take the joy out, for our teachers and our wee people. This is why some settings have left Christmas off their yearly menu, and we can see why if these are the only seasonal dishes they know can be served.
The festive season is exactly that - a season. It’s a short space of time that comes and goes, built into the rhythm of the year. For our children it is such a short window of time in their year but one that truly matters to them. They find this season exciting and magical, and it is up to us whether we leave the festivities at the door, claiming we don’t have the time or energy to ‘do Christmas’, or whether we say YES.
It really is the small things that make the difference. Tiny little touches set apart the ho-hum “just fine” ECE settings from the really special heart filled ones. There may be big differences in size and dollars spent across the sector, but the no price tag items are the things that speak volumes.
Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to infuse your setting with life and celebration. The festive season can be a magical time for our children if we choose to ‘let it in’, instead of closing the door to it.
Making deposits in the heart bank. This is what our interactions and environment are aiming to do for our children when we practice from the Heart! As much as young minds need nurturing, so do young hearts.
"A home away from home".
It's a description of ECE settings that is bandied about so often that its true meaning tends to be overlooked. It is not enough to use the phrase as a selling point for parents. We need to think about what home means to a very young child, and find genuine ways of offering a homely, nurturing safe haven.
"There is no difference between living and learning... it is impossible and misleading and harmful to think of them as being separate." - John Holt
We have noticed a growing trend to implement ‘teaching programmes’ in an attempt to teach our young ‘pre/before school’ children academic as well as social/emotional skills. Much can be said about how and when to teach children reading/math/writing skills, a topic for another time. What concerns us is the trend to ‘teach’ children social skills and values by way of ‘giving lessons’.
One of the current trends moving into 2017 is the minimalism trend. A trend of owning less, and tidy places. There are several different interpretations of what minimalism is, ranging from owning no more than a suitcase with the absolute necessities for living to sterile environments with just enough chairs, cutlery and plates for the number of people that reside there. Then there are those who see minimalism as a concept of simplicity and no clutter.
Less than a week to go until it is Christmas. How many of you are looking forward to Christmas day? How many of you are actually, in all honesty, feeling tired, stressed and wish you could just have a day of nothing... Wait a minute... isn’t this supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year?
It’s December, and it’s the start of the festive season. It’s one of our favourite times of the year. We can all use a healthy reminder that Christmas is a magical time of year. THE TIME for the children to feel the results of our care.
As teachers our role is to modify, adapt and manipulate the environment, an environment that mirrors the biological imperatives of the child. Our places need to be a direct reflection of what the child’s biology needs! With close to 200.000 children in early childhood settings across New Zealand we have a very important task to do!
What is more natural for children than to play? Just as we can’t separate learning from living, we cannot separate playing from learning. There are certain universal urges that can be witnessed in children’s play –things they just feel compelled to do and driven to repeat, in many ways and with many objects. Urges are repeated patterns of play and thinking, they are biological imperatives. They are innate and totally intrinsic to what children do. If we provide for the urge we can let the children lead the way!
Do you remember setting up the Christmas tree? Your birthday celebration? Friday evenings, first day of summer holidays? You may not remember all of it, nor will you remember exactly what happened during those events, but what you probably do remember is the feelings you experienced. You may remember how you felt, setting up and decorating the tree in your living room. You probably remember the anticipation of seeing presents under the tree and the excitement of finally unwrapping them, even though you don’t remember what the presents were. You may even remember some of the smells, and sounds, the Christmas jingles coming through the old cassette player (remember those?). These traditions or rituals are the spice in the dish of life.
In studies of children’s dreams, 80% of young children's dreams are about animals. Seems as though nature has designed us that our dreams support the all important development of relationships with the animal world. Animals in our environments offer the children authentic experiences of observing, caring for and even mourning the loss of feathered, furry and scaled friends. Cultivating children’s relationships with animals during early childhood is one of the best ways to foster empathy.
The festivities of the Christmas season have made their way into our environments and into our hearts at The Heart School. Our spaces are infused with seasonal and beautiful special treasures that only come out for this season, allowing the children to build beautiful memories and magical anniversaries of the heart. Festive ornaments bring life and celebration in as we warm up in this summer season and wind down our year.