Thursday, July 27, 2017

Learning by Heart

I started this blog as an outlet for my musings on early childhood education.  In my everyday life and experiences, I see boundless examples of the tenets of early childhood education. Education after all is about learning and growth, both in and out of the classroom.  And learning and growth, to my mind, is the purpose of life.

When we think about educating very young children (early childhood is defined as birth to age 8), we are forced to consider the nature of education. What do we want children to learn?  And then we must answer the question, how do children learn? Developmentally appropriate practice, which is the foundation of early childhood education, requires educators to get to know, respect, and appreciate each student's unique strengths, interests, and current skill levels.  Then the teacher can guide and support his/her students   in furthering their skills and knowledge, bringing them closer and closer to discovering and actualizing their best selves.  It's about authentic, individualized learning and growth, and applies to every age and developmental level.  

There are many dimensions to my choice of title, Learning by Heart.  Of course, I love learning (what teacher doesn't?).  I love facilitating learning in others.  I love talking and thinking about teaching and learning.  And I like to think that all this learning is making the world a better place.  So I have an emotional connection to learning.

Learning by heart can also mean learning something so well that it becomes part of you. Things you know by heart are internalized;  you "know" with your whole being.  I'm reading a fantastic book right now called Everyday Holiness, by Alan Morinis.  It's about Mussar, and I found this perfect quote:  "Thoughts do not become part of our lives until they are somehow internalized, as if woven into the flesh of our hearts".  Yes, that's it.  Authentic learning, the learning I see in early childhood education, is learning that takes place for and by the heart.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Happy Birthday Tehilla Noa!

I arrived in Arizona yesterday, which was Tehilla's 6th birthday.  Risa and I put together an old fashioned birthday party for Tehilla and her friends after day camp.   About 20 girls arrived at Risa's house ready for fun.  We opened with a craft project---decorating masks with paint, feathers, and pom-poms.  We played a few group games, like London Bridge, Bluebird, and Indian Chief.  After cake and ice cream,  we sent the girls on a Treasure Hunt, looking for various clues which eventually led them to a stash of Goodie Bags.  The girls had an absolute blast.  At the end of the 1 1/2 hour party, one girl asked her mom if Tehilla could have another birthday so that she could come to her party again!

I used to dread making birthday parties, because I felt pressured that everyone needed to have a GOOD TIME and they needed to have it RIGHT NOW!  But today, maybe being a grandmother makes me more relaxed.  I can see that these young girls were eager to play together and participate.  The activities we offered appealed to their current developmental levels and interests.  They were able to create, use their minds, use their bodies, and enjoy each other's company and personalities in active and non-competitive play. The group games were special fun because I joined in. Kids love to play with adults!  

 Times have certainly changed since I was 6 years old in 1958.  But it's wonderful to see that the inner nature of children remains constant, and we don't need to jump through hoops or entertain them with electronics for them to have a very happy birthday party.