My Philosophy on Education:
My philosophy of education has been shaped by every experience I have had while being with children, whether I was teaching, observing children and teachers while in college, playing with my siblings as a child, or even babysitting. I believe the best way to engage and increase the learning for every child is having hands on, meaningful experiences that are of interest to that child. Children learn through feeling, eating, smelling, seeing, and listening. To engaged children best, open up their ability to use all their senses to bring in purposeful, meaningful learning! I love engaging children with their sense through cooking experiments. Children investigate the ingredients first by smelling, looking, and feeling, and then children may taste the ingredients alone to discover what the particular ingredient is. Then children use their hands to mix, pour, stir, kneed, beat, etc. the materials together. Not only is it important to bring in familiar ingredients and cooking materials but also bring in new, diverse materials that children may not experience at home.
In order to teach children successfully you must know each and every individual child. Knowing the experiences children have is vital in order to understand where each child is at and then where you want to take the child next. As well, you need to know each child’s interests, preferences and motivators. Through looking at a child with this lens you are able to teach to the whole child and then also bring in each child’s family. I believe constant communication with each family (home visits, conferences, communication notebooks, emails, phone calls, etc.) is extremely important during the early child years. Bridging the gap between school and home is the best way to connect meaningful, learning experiences beyond the school walls and into home and other environments.
In my early childhood setting children are teachers, each child learns differently and with that in mind, some children learn more from a peer model! Through an integrated model, I believe it is most successful for teaching social skills and the idea that every child is learning their own way. We are preparing children to be aware of all needs and accepting of all these various needs. In recent reading of the book No Pity, it has really cemented the idea for me, that I must lay the foundation that all people are different and that is ok! One thing I really took away from No Pity is the thoughts that society needs to change, society needs to be accepting of all people. I truly believe (as one of the first teachers in a child’s life, along with their families), we must explicitly teach this concept and what better way than to have a full inclusive classroom with wonderful peer models of all different levels, needs, interest, experiences, cultures, and abilities.
One of the best ways to explicitly teach social interactions of all learners is through play. I believe play is everything! Play can accomplish so much learning in all areas of development (social emotional, language, physical, mathematics, literacy, cognition, science, and art.) Through play no matter what abilities, experiences, or needs you may have you can differentiate each interaction to make it meaningful for each child. For example, when children were very interested in cooking in the dramatic play center, we created our own “oven” out of a card board box, clay, markers, glue, Popsicle sticks, and lots and lots of tape. Some children were interested in writing the “numbers” for the clock so they took on that project. Some children wanted to figure out how to open and close the oven, so they used tape and string to have a lever system to “open and close” the oven. While other children were able to participate through taping a lot of Popsicle sticks to the back of the oven to “make it sturdy”. Each child, no matter abilities or skills, was able to participate through this extensive project based off their interest in the dramatic play center. It’s not “just play”, this simple play set went on to incorporate team work, measuring and math skills, turn taking, patience (only one oven!), building 3D objects, science (opening lever system on the oven door), engagements, constructing an idea mentally and then executing it through creating, and much, much more!
Children are willing and ready to soak up everything in their environment. As an early childhood educator you must have faith and believe each child can do so (in their own way) and they will! The self fulfilling prophesy is huge in the early learning years, if I believe in a child then they will believe in themselves, and these early learning experiences will just continue to model and shape every child!