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I love the Internet. I love that I can find out anything about everything (thank you Google). I love that I can keep in touch with friends and family. I love that I can browse through thousands of images and websites in my quest for the perfect doll” and I love that I can network with other Early Childhood Professionals.

Over the last few months that last one has become something I do more of. I am a follower of many great blogs and have joined various Facebook groups designed for sharing ideas, supporting one another and reflecting on our practice. That sounds great in theory, but it would seem that a positive and reflective online group is becoming hard to find! In recent weeks I have seen arguments that have spiraled into name calling and at times downright nastiness. In the last few days I have seen many passionate educators leave these groups, taking with them valid ideas and opinions. I find this really sad.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good debate! I actually think it is totally appropriate and good for our profession to have debates about key issues. How else do we evolve if we aren’t able to reflect on our opinions and practices or if we aren’t challenged by others who are as passionate as ourselves? I have had some great professional disagreements online and “in real life” and have always walked away learning something. And really – how boring would the world be if everyone agreed with me? (although sometimes I wish they would!!)

So if you are going to use these networking groups (and I suggest you do!) below are the four rules that I would recommend imposing on yourself in order to stay sane!

I would really like to elaborate on the second and fourth point.

I am a passionate advocate and I will never back down or apologise for that. When you have a strong belief or understanding that is supported by theory, research or regulations and someone is doing something that contradicts that and is detrimental to children, you have an obligation to speak up. When I read about someone leaving an educator alone in a room with children – I speak up. When someone says that you will “get in trouble” during assessment if the children climb trees – I speak up. I always try to do this nicely and to back up what I am saying with regulations, law or research.

As I said before, I love a good debate, but there are times when it is just not worth having an argument. Sometimes, for whatever reason, there are people who just want to get into a fight. Maybe they have had a bad day, maybe it is a particularly sensitive issue for them personally or maybe they just want to argue! I think unless you have something productive or purposeful to contribute…just keep on scrolling. If someone says something nasty… just keep on scrolling. I’m not saying we should necessarily back down – I believe it is important to stand up for yourself and to hold people accountable for their actions and attitudes, but sometimes it is just not worth the stress to engage!

Social networking isn’t going to go away – so we may as well make the most of it and view it as an opportunity to grow as a professional and to build a community of passionate, opinionated individuals!
So it is Mothers Day. This is probably not the best day to write this post, however I just have to, I can’t keep it in any more!

Over the past few weeks I have been bombarded with ideas for Mothers Day craft. From Pinterest boards to Facebook Early Childhood networks, I have seen one suggestion after another of crafts to make for mothers day. It’s lovely, really, that educators feel it important to recognise Mothers Day. I get that it comes from a really great place, yet I wonder how meaningful it is.

What I really want to know is – why craft? Why do we feel the need to do a painting, make a handprint, colour in a card (don’t get me started on my issues with colouring in!)?  Many years ago on a practicum I observed children being told they “must” come and draw on a heart to put in a keyring for Mum. Some children loved this, they put so much effort and thought and love into it. Others simply could not have cared less and had to be coerced into drawing on the heart because heaven forbid little Billy’s mum missed out on a keyring!  I have also, again many years ago, witnessed a production line of children having their hands dipped in paint and pressed onto a piece of paper which were then lovingly cut out by educators and paired with a poem.

Where is the meaning in this? I honestly thought those days were behind us, yet the last few weeks has proven me wrong. We say that we respect the individuality of children, but it would seem that in many services
this idea just flies out the window when a special occasion rolls around.

Why can’t we frame a photograph of a block building for the child who loves construction? Why can’t we make a short video of a child singing to share with Mum? Or better yet… why can’t we ask the child what they want to do? And, to take it one step further, how about we respect the child who doesn’t want to make anything at all? Perhaps they have another way of showing their love to their Mum and that is okay!


Again, I get that it comes from a good place, but every time I see a handprint and “Mum Poem” I feel as though I have been transported back to 1988. I am sure there are some services out there with an original approach to celebrations and I would love to hear them! How do you keep special occasions meaningful, respectful and not “mass produced”?


Nicole





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Earlier this week one of our amazing educators bought in a stack of branches that had recently been cut down. Perfectly straight and smooth, these quickly attracted interest from the children. On the first day they used them to create structures in the sandpit, the next day to make a large cubby in the yard. At various times, children were observed carrying them around the yard, picking up different branches (appearing to compare the weights of them!)It really reminded me what I love about our yard. We have created a space that really doesn’t require any equipment to be put out. It encourages the children to explore the natural environment and to be creative with resources. Just this week I have loved watching a group of girls creating “cakes” with dirt from the garden and water from our rainwater tanks, watched a little one make a “fire” on our herb hill (as he scooped up rocks and bark and piled them up, it created dust clouds which he likened to smoke! I also love watching the kids climb and just hang out in the trees! It was particularly exciting to see an art book up a tree today – evidence of some creative little being using the natural environment to their advantage…it just makes me smile!
A little tricky to see – but evidence of creativity up a tree!

If you didn’t get any equipment out in the outdoor environment…what would the children do? Do you have open ended, natural materials for them to explore? How do they use them?
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