Tag Archives: learning


Of Lunch and Leisure and Socks

I’m sitting with two girls at the picnic table eating lunch.  One said she felt sore in her tummy and went inside, I thought to go to the bathroom. But in a moment she returned with an orange sock on each of her hands. Without explanation she continued eating her lunch. She used her sock covered hands to open her applesauce container, then, carefully manipulating her plastic spoon, she ate it.  She and her companion continued chatting, slowly, slowly eating. It takes a lot of time to eat your lunch when your hands are covered in orange socks.

Now here’s the thing: no adult said a word about the socks. No one told her to take them off, and no one told her to hurry up and finish eating.

This centre has been rethinking routines, slowing everything down, so there are fewer transitions and longer blocks of time.  Which meant that these two girls could chat amiably over a leisurely lunch and enjoy sock covered hands.

Don’t you think we could all use a leisurely lunch? Got any orange socks?

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When Play Isn’t Nice


Kristen and Alice are packing up a plastic grocery cart. Dolls, blankets and baskets are crammed into the cart and a cash register is balancing precariously on top. A suitcase is stuffed full of food, a cat is in it’s crate and these, along with phones, chairs, and keyboards are carried to the other end of the room and arranged neatly on a carpet. “Where are you going?” I ask. “To rescue Grandma, she’s trapped in a cave” is the response.

A few moments later Grandma has been saved, but now the girls shriek “A fire is coming!! The babies will burn!’ They frantically shout into the phone  ” Come and save us, the fire is coming! The babies will die!” but the fire continues to threaten. They rush around moving babies from place to place. Suddenly Kristen announces “An invisible shield! An invisible shield is here and will protect us!”  All is well.

On the other side of the room some boys are fighting off the bad guys and dragging other children to jail. The children being dragged to jail protest, but the boys are insistent causing tempers to flare.  Another group is attempting to use a remote control to drop fire on top of the dramatic play area, much to the dismay of the children playing there.

I am intrigued by the common theme of danger or evil that often infuses children’s play. As children fight for survival, rescue each other or the babies, defend themselves, it seems they are exploring power, courage and good and evil. But they also exclude, try to ‘put fire’ on each other, steal, spy, sneak and  plot against one another.

I have been considering what we as adults think play should look like, our expectations. I think we want play to be ‘nice’.  We want everyone to be happy and all of us to be  friends. Play should be fun and fun is pleasant, cheerful.

But we know from our experience that play is not always nice, that it can be unsettling to us, that children can be unkind, and will explore ideas we might find difficult, such as violence and discrimination. When kids put the baby doll in the oven, or shout that Johnny can’t come in the block area because he’s mean we admonish them for ‘not being nice’.

While I’m all for talking to kids about kindness, empathy and thinking about how Johnny might feel about being called mean, I also want to acknowledge that kids know about the ‘not nice’ parts of our world. They know injustice, unkindness, and evil exist and they need to explore these difficult issues just as much as we as adults do.  For us to want play to be ‘nice’  is to ignore the fact that children see that the world is not always nice.

If we are  in a relationship with a child I think we have a responsibility to engage with the ideas that children bring to us, even the not nice ones.

Children are able to bring new thinking to their explorations when they play with others, when they think together in play. …It is more complex than we imagine, I believe. We cannot be young in this particular time and at this unique point in history and thus there are aspects of children’s thinking that will  always remain a mystery. We should remain humble in the face of children’s extraordinary explorations of life and all the possible relationships with it. 

Enid Elliot

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What if…..

A wise educator I know talks of goals for early care and education. She says rather than speaking of learning outcomes, or cognitive development, or self regulation what if our goal was to have children…

 Develop a sense of identity as a learner

 How would  our role change if we saw ourselves as creating a place, an environment, a relationship that helped children identify themselves as learners? How would that impact our role?

 What if all the materials we put out for kids led to conversations, not to a product?

 What if the conversations led to what materials went out next?

 What if we as educators identified ourselves as learners?

 What if we saw ourselves as the one who asks questions?

 What if we decided there were no right answers?

What if we always wondered?


Sharing the Learning


So one of the benefits of being a Roots of Empathy Instructor is more professional development. As I have said before I am an ECE geek, I love professional development! I am a professional development addict. My co-educators used to joke that I had a thousand hours between licensing renewels. I used to joke that there were twelve step programs for people like me.

Today the Saanich School District hosted a Roots of Empathy learning circle of sorts. I was a little nervous going into it. See I am the youngest at the table. The other instructors are retired principals, high school teachers and primary teachers. There is a lot of wisdom in this group. I am the only Early Childhood Educator at the table as well. I love the Roots of Empathy program but the curriculum does feel a little foreign to me. The content is great but I am a practitioner of emergent curriculum and following the child’s lead, I have never taught with a scripted curriculum before. So as nervous as I was I was excited to sit down with all that wisdom and hear how they were approaching the curriculum.

The funny thing was we were all approaching it in very similar ways. We were following the children’s lead and fitting the curriculum to the children.

One of the instructors shared something that stayed with me as well. She said “Curriculum is not the lesson you plan but what happens in the classroom.” As an ECE I have always believed this. It is the thing I love most about being an ECE,  the flying by the seat of my pants, not knowing where the children will take me next. I also think its what I like about being an ROE Instructor. You never know where the children and babies will take you. What is happening in the classroom between that Kindergarten class and baby is amazing and I am honoured that I get to be a part of it. I also feel honoured that I get to be part of another learning community with these wise wise women. 

Do you have a group that you share the learning with?




Weekend Links

Weekend Links

Wabi Sabi ~ care of wabisabi.ca, a place to explore the concept of wabi sabi

Light and Shadow Study in the Block Area ~ Little Preschool on the Prairie

What Does Learning Look Like ~ Mid Pacific Institute

Ten Things I Wish For Kids Today ~ Grass Stain Guru, I love this list, I have often thought of printing and framing it and putting it in my daughters room.

Happy to be home again after a couple weeks of being away. I plan on taking Helaina outside and finding some puddles to jump in.

What will you be up to this weekend?