Let the children have input in their own learning.
I am so honored to be a part of our New Mexico Affiliate of National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). When I was reviewing my experiences up to this part of my life on this subject, the Week of the Young Child, I have noticed that I have always regarded childhood as an important chapter for adulthood; and as I have moved into different roles in my life as a work study teacher, assistant teacher, teacher, mentor and now as a consultant, I have strengthed my opinion about the Week of Young Child and confirmed that it is very important to recognize young children and their experiences.
I was in a classroom of four and five year olds not too long ago and saw an activity initiated by children; they made their own puppets. They did the decorating, drawing, design, and the cutting them out and eventually put them on sticks and then did a puppet show for their classmates. This may not be big deal to a passerby or to stranger, but as an early childhood professional, it shows that those teachers in that classroom thought that this children’s play was important. The teachers thought it was important for the children. It was allowed to continue for a couple of days even though it wasn’t on the curriculum or planning theme or agenda. It was facilitated by teachers and even extended by learning about what a puppet is, what are characters and story lines. The children had a vested interest. It was important to the children; they designed it; they created it; and it involved planning, collaboration and creativity. It involved social interaction, fine motor skills, language and thought.
I also wonder too if the children will remember this time that they got to make their puppet designs and puppet show? Now imagine if this activity was discouraged because it wasn’t on the lesson plan or the planned schedule. Imagine if it was pushed to the side because it wasn’t part of the curriculum.
This is where I see the importance of young children, and their ideas being created or child initiated.
For the Week of the Young Child I want you, the early childhood professional, to examine child-initiated activities and explore how many concepts children can gain from children’s interest and ideas. Let’s Go…
With warmest regards, NMAEYC President
Laura Lynn Docterman