Saturday, September 5, 2015

Joining Hands As Professionals

My visit at Leikskollin Stekkjaras during Play Iceland.

Over the last four years, I have learned a tremendous amount about the wide variety of things happening in Child Care and Preschool across the globe.  I owe a lot of credit to Facebook, Pinterest, and reading blogs that I have discovered through both.  I have connected with some very inspiring people. I have also learned that NOTHING compares to meeting other professionals face to face and exploring other settings in person. 

Tom and I during the visit to Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland.

Tom Shea, who is the owner of Child First Day Nurseries in the UK, contacted me in January about hosting a small Team of his staff in Maine for a closer look at best practices happening here in the United States. 

After reviewing many creative and thorough bids from many of his staff, five people were selected to create Team Maine.  They have had several meetings in person to work together and have also met with me through Skype. 

At the end of September they will spend 10 days in Maine investigating, observing, exploring, and taking notes at a dozen different settings in both urban and rural areas. 

The focus is to observe, interact and to be inspired by the providers, environments and the children themselves.

The journey doesn't end there. We will spend a whole Saturday with a group of about 25 preschool teachers and daycare providers reflecting, sharing, and discussing similarities and differences in all our settings both near and far. 

Me presenting at Play Iceland 2014

When they return to the UK they are expected to present to additional staff (and outward) regarding the ideas and observations they have gathered during their time in the US.

We can communicate across the world, but linking is more than just Facebook - we want to challenge and encourage - we want to visit and revisit - we want to remove the hurdles the best we can. Child development is far too important and where there is great practice we should be proud to share it." -Tom Shea

A bit more about Tom Shea...

Tom has been working in Early Childhood for over 40 years and is very passionate about PLAY and joining hands around the world to create a united front of advocates who care about healthy children's development.
Beyond his Nurseries, Tom is also involved in many other projects that are aimed at improving childhood. Fafu. Play Iceland. The Factory Where We Can Build Anything. And now it appears possibly... Play International?

We keep bumping into people who have the imagination and drive – we encourage some, support some, enthuse with some and grow stronger for the doing.... -Tom Shea

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Group Block Building

Today we practiced a lot of skills at our group meeting time. 

We had a platform in the middle of the rug that the children were gathered around.

Each child waited for their name to be called (mostly in groups of 3 or 4) and they sneaked through our secret entrance into the block area to choose two blocks to add to a group structure. 

My goals were for children to practice patience, turn taking and to create something as a team.

As I watched and guided the activity I realized that there were so many more skills being practiced. 

We talked about what we thought the structure reminded us of.
 Most children agreed with each other that it was either a maze or a city.

Making space and taking turns through our secret entrance.

I learned a lot about a few personalities when I realized many children were choosing only certain blocks from certain shelves, while a few were more interested in finding something unique to add.

As the city continued to become more complex, children needed to be more aware of other blocks that were already in place. 

Several children knocked over blocks which started a chain reaction of other blocks. Some children took the time to set other people's blocks back where they were. Only a couple children almost became upset when they knocked a block over or when something they had placed was knocked over. Some interesting observations about their social emotional development.

Some children reached very carefully through blocks to try and retrieve those that had been knocked, while others were unaware and knocked several more over in the process. Lots of observations about spatial awareness.

We talked about when you work together as a team on something, than everybody has to decide together when is the right time to knock it all over. We took a vote and destruction hit the city along with laughter and giggles.

Clean up and sorting. The children all worked together to deliver and sort the blocks on to their proper shelves. They continued to manage squeezing through the secret entrance. Not only were we managing our bodies and focus in a small busy space, we were practicing to put things away where they belong. 

Blocks are one of the items in the classroom that can be frustrating and overwhelming for children to clean up, but suddenly it was fun.

Monday, August 31, 2015