This month I took a professional development course about the language we use with children. This course is about “creating space for children to do their own thinking.” I think about the importance of this a lot. Here are some of the takeaways that can help bring about original thinking.
The Language We Use With Our Children Is Important
Pay attention to how many commands, questions, and niceties that you say to your child. In an experiment the teacher did with a group of educators, 80% of things said were commands! Too many questions aren’t good either. He suggested that we only ask questions of the child that we don’t know the answer to ourselves. And when we ask a question to give the child 10-12 seconds to answer.
Create agreements. We have ground rules already in place in the classroom, but I am curious to see what happens if we create “agreements as a group”. I feel like this could be valuable at home as well. We will post ours on paper in the classroom.
Stay truthful. This is one that I thought I was doing, but he drew my attention to the phrasing I often use. In the classroom, I often use the word “we” saying something like, “We walk in the classroom” to help children stop their bodies from running inside. Well, his point is that this isn’t actually true, is it? The children sometimes run. If I have already created agreements regarding safety with the group, what I could say is, “We agreed to walk.” I could also say, “You are running. We have a lot of hard wooden shelves that may hurt your body if you bump into one of them.”
He suggests using informative statements and narration of the present moment. For example, if there are toys out that need to be cleaned up. We could say, “There is a puzzle on the floor. It belongs on the shelf.” Then give a long pause for the child to start cleaning up. The statement may need to be repeated. When children start to join in, begin narrating the story of the children who are helping and ignore the ones who are not. His feeling is that children want to be a part of the story, so this inspires them to join the group. I am going to try this!
I would like to have a garden bed at school for the children to tend. They are very interested in digging in the dirt and we don’t have a good spot for that in our yard. I am open to ideas and suggestions and am looking for a volunteer to build a box for us.
Robin in the Rain
Robin in the rain,
What a saucy fellow, Robin in the rain,
Mind your socks of yellow.
Running through the garden on your nimble feet.
Digging for your dinner with your long strong beak. Robin in the rain,
You don’t mind the weather. Showers only make you gay.