Before Working on Limiting Your Children, Look in the Mirror and Question Yourself...Are You Overdoing it?
While reading a few good books on technology use and young children, something stood out to me like a brightly shining star yesterday. Contemplate not what you are doing, but what you are not doing when using electronics. We tend to get sucked into electronics, ignoring the world around us and allowing the clock to speed ahead in its circular path, robbing us of valuable time...time with people and nature and getting things done. This, of course, happens because of the effects the electronics have on our brains. What a great way to check oneself! Rather than asking, "What am I doing?" which allows for a plethora of justifications of the time loss, we can ask, "What am I not doing?" This question leads to answers such as, "I am not taking the dog for that walk I was looking forward to today." "I am not playing with my children right now, and they are not happy about that." "I am not cooking dinner at the time that is best for my family." "I am not listening to what my spouse is saying; I'm just nodding while working." "I am not..." What are you not doing when the screen grabs your cranium, and you find yourself endlessly navigating the sticky strings of the World Wide Web, much like a fly caught in the silk of a crafty arachnid? What could you be doing instead? Clear out the cobwebs! I'm shutting down my computer now and going outside, because I am NOT enjoying this beautiful morning in my new garden. See ya!
This is a great example of the concept communicated via a recent Buzz Word in Education: "Intentionality". Although the word itself has been around longer than you can imagine, it has, in the last decade, become a term to reckon with in the classroom. More on the concept, after we see just how fun it can be in early childhood!
The children were "Intentionally" taught some basic cookie decorating skills to ensure they could: produce beautiful cookie gifts; keep the mess to a minimum; plan and execute a project; and exercise some fine motor coordination techniques. A lesson taught with Intentionality, which, in turn, taught the children to approach the project with Intentionality. They were required to think ahead about colors and design, and we used demonstration and hand-over-hand practice to understand the skills...the technique and the outcome of using the techniques. There were No Mounds of Icing, there were No Big Spills, there were No Sprinkle-Doused Cookies! There were a lot of little fingers working hard for the correct positioning, there were many thoughtful pauses prior to taking the next step, and there were happy, proud faces enjoying the holiday music and their own Edible Christmas Masterpieces!
Be enlightened! Click HERE for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's definition and explanation of "Intentionality". And make it FUN!! :)
Teach the children the framework within which they can "own" the classroom. My kindergarten children run our entire morning and afternoon meetings by the beginning of November. They know their jobs and they know the routine. I sit back and watch, enjoying the new ways they learn by working with each other and not depending on me to guide every detail, answer every question or solve every problem. Independence, critical thinking, coooperation and collaboration, excitement! LEARNING!!! My morning students asked me this week for the keys to the building and offered for me to sleep in while they run the class! I'm considering it. LOL - JK
Along the same empowering lines of thinking, let them "own" the work. Teach the concept, not the details. Demonstrate and explain when it is absolutely necessary to stay within the lines, but let them "color outside the lines" or "think out of the box" on their own, putting their own spin on the work, based on their own prior knowledge or curiosity. It's never wrong if they are learning something...even when it's not what we expected them to be learning. The thinking is what really matters! Provoke the inquisitive nature and the desire to create that children are blessed with! They naturally come equipped to learn...let them go for it. Don't get hung up on "doing it right" and stop giving them the answers! Let them read their writing to you, let them explain their process to you...allow them to share what is going on in their minds as they explore, and allow them to change it to fit how they perceive it should be - you may learn something new! It's their process and their outcome...Let Them Feel It!
Colleen T. Mantell, M.S., Ed. Founder, President Beyond The Standards Inc. Prof Dev Instructor -PQAS Certified PA & MD Certified Teacher -Early Childhood Edu -Elementary Edu -Family & Consumer Sci -Psychology Published Author -Peer-Reviewed Journal Kindergarten Enrichment Teacher Wife and Mother of Three