Our opinions about how and what children should learn are shaped by our own experiences. Think back to your own childhood. What experiences did you have at home and school? How did your parents and teachers interact with you and other children? How has this influenced how you think children and adults should interact? Think about the following scenarios. What would you say in each situation?
Aiden’s parents have been picking him up from your home together the past couple of weeks, which is out of the ordinary. You notice they have been taking extra time to observe him playing before leaving for the day. One afternoon, you overhear their conversation regarding Aiden’s play choices. Both parents seem curious about why Aiden is choosing to play with baby dolls and Aiden’s father mentions that he would prefer that Aiden plays with something more appropriate for boys like blocks, cars or balls. He interrupt’s Aiden’s play and redirects him to play with a ball saying “Boys don’t play with dolls.”
“Aiden explores a variety of toys and activities during the day. I have noticed that Aiden is showing an increased interest in our dramatic play area recently. He appears to be interested in caring for babies. Have you observed this at home? When he plays with the baby dolls, he is demonstrating that he is learning empathy and compassion. Playing with dolls and in the dramatic play area encourages social skills in all children. When children play with dolls they are learning to communicate, cooperate, and take care of others. Toddlers learn through their expereinces and interactions with familiar adults. Aiden is certainly showing me what great caregiverers he has by the way he cares for the dolls and his peers. Do you have any questions about dramatic play?”
Terrence’s mother stops to talk during pick-up time. She mentions that she is worried about Terrence starting kindergarten in the fall. She shows you the worksheets Terrence’s cousin is doing in his preschool program. She notes how impressive it is that he has copied and created a page full of the letter “R.” She assures you that she is happy with your family child care program, but she isn’t sure what Terrence is learning. She is worried that Terrence isn’t going to be ready for school in the fall.
“Thank you for sharing your concerns. I understand how stressful getting ready for kindergarten can be. For children going to kindergarten, worksheets may be used as a choice activity by the child. It sounds like you are worried about Terrence learning to read and write. Here are a few examples of how he is learning about letters in a few different experiences in my program:
“Blocks: By looking at the magazines and books we have in the block area, he can get ideas about what he would like to build. “Dramatic play: By pretending to be at a restaurant looking at the menu or taking someone’s order. Arts: By drawing and writing on different types of paper using markers or paint. “Sand and water: By putting our plastic letters in the water and by making letter prints in the sand.”
Before Kimberlynn starts in your program, her father schedules an appointment to come meet with you. After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, he mentions that he wants to talk about how you address issues with sharing toys in the classroom. He tells you that he believes children should not be asked to share toys. He knows Kimberlynn is very attached to her toys and to toys she plays with during play groups. He has seen care providers force children to give up toys, and he is not comfortable with that.
What would you say to dad about sharing? “I understand where you are coming from. It’s important for children to learn to respect other’s belongings. It’s also important for children to learn to work and play with others. I try to respect both of those goals and help children understand the reason behind these actions”.
What might you suggest for toys from home? “If Kimberlynn brings a special object from home, we will always teach the children to respect that. And if she decides to share her toy, it will be her choice. I also suggest to children that if they do not wish to share a toy from home, it can be stored in a safe space throughout the day.”
Adrien is a 12-year-old who typically receives great grades. Lately, she has been avoiding assignments and was told she would receive an incomplete in her classes if she does not turn in overdue homework. In your home, she has been a distraction to her peers and has been overheard telling others that she does not care about school and will just start over next grading period. You have brought these concerns to her mom’s attention and her response was, “She is just going through a phase. She will grow out of it.”
“I understand that Adrien is a great student, however I am concerned that by missing assignments, she will fall further behind in her classes or simply lose interest in school. I would recommend reaching out to her guidance counselor to determine if there is anything he or she can do to support Adrien with her work. Some things I would suggest asking the guidance counselor are: Should Adrien be moved to more challenging classes? What can Adrien do at this point to receive a passing grade? Are there any concerns about Adrien’s social skills or behaviors in school? This conversation may provide you with a framework for encouraging studious behaviors at home. Please let me know what I can do here to support her.”