We have had a wonderful (yet hot) start to our year. The children have picked up on routines so quickly and are doing a wonderful job putting things back after using them and preparing for recess and lunch. So much work in the first weeks is spent on developing who we are and how we do things, so that once we get into the thick of our year, everyone knows the classroom expectations and the work of learning can flourish!
A unique aspect of our program is that children are free to determine what work they would like to do and at what time. During morning and afternoon work times children are free to take any work from the shelf in which they have had a lesson. This gives the children control and ownership in their learning. A product of this approach is that you might see the same piece of work come home again and again! You might ask yourself, “Why is Joanie bringing home the same piece of work over and over again?” The answer is simply. That is what interests her! Look closely at that piece of work. How many skills went into it? Hand eye coordination, fine motor, one to one correspondence, etc. Each time a child repeats a piece of work they are developing confidence and solidifying their skills. The first time a child does a piece of work, it might actually be too difficult for them, but after repeated attempts they are able to comprehend the skill and then transfer their new knowledge to other areas.
An example of this is a butterfly diagram work that some of the children worked on yesterday. The children needed to use their fine motor skills to trace the diagram and then trace words like abdomen, thorax, antennae, hind wings and orewings. While the children cannot read these words, they are getting practice in letter formation and strengthening the muscles in their hands. After repeated attempts and practice, the children will recognize those ‘difficult’ words and be able to correctly label the parts of a butterfly and then transfer that knowledge onto all insects. There is so much good in letting the children take the lead and letting them pick the work they will do. When the shelves are filled with quality experiences, this approach can’t go wrong; no matter what the children pick they will have an opportunity to strengthen their skills.