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Lunenburg offers a series of suggestions for parents than can effectively aide the parent in home teaching, an essential aspect of child development and school readiness. Those which are applicable tot the ECE classroom are as follows:
1. Read to preschool children at least 20 minutes a day. Regular reading to children is one of the most important activities parents can do with their children to improve their readiness for school, serve as their child's first teacher, and instill a love of books and reading.
2. Keep good books, magazines, and newspapers in the house; the home can mirror the school in this respect. Make it easy - both for adults and children - to find something interesting to read.
3. Add to children's enjoyment of reading by discussing each book they read. Discussing the book familiarizes children with story components such as character, plot, action, and sequence and helps them associate language with printed text. Offer them computer-assisted games that promote language, writing, mathematics, and thinking.
4. Make sure children see parents or the caregiver read for at least 20 minutes a day. Remember, parents are a child's first teacher.
5. If a parent has difficulty reading, tell children stories. Telling stories is another important way that parents can participate in shared literacy activities with their children. In some cultures, storytelling and oral traditions play a more central role than reading books aloud.
6. Limit childrens' television viewing to no more than two hours a day. Studies indicate that while some television viewing every day is alright, excessive time watching television is directly linked to poor school performance. Watch the program with the child, then discuss the program and its implications in simple lessons. (Lunenburg, 2000, p. 519)
Lunenburg also goes on to stress the importance of seeking and keeping high standards with children as they will be more likely to meet them if they are not frequently given rewards that they do not earn. Cultural diversity can also be extremely important in this aspect of teaching as families diversity is essential to individual identity and can help support the role the child plays in community and school. Seeking to support diversity through bilingual support and cultural reflections opportunities in school can be essential to such development of identity and for children to find a place in the world through understanding differences and similarities.
My teaching philosophy is significantly influenced by diversity in age and ability as I have experienced the breadth of such as a student and a ECE professional. In ECE the main aspect of philosophy that influences the ability to help all students is flexibility. Open ended project bases with reflective pre-reading and constant supervision and support are the key to the development of skills that manifest as flexible enough to support diversity of age and ability. Another practical application I have found essential to such development is multi-age mentoring throughout the day. Older children and younger children and children of varied abilities can be partnered to help one another understand concepts an learning materials and if the experience is positive it helps develop self-esteem and camaraderie among students who them begin to understand the staged process of learning. One way that I have tried to help ensure that such interactions are positive are by applying concepts from the Different and Same supplementary curriculum as it attempts to model good behavior for students with regard to diversity in age, ability and even race.
Different and Same is a supplementary curriculum developed by the company that produces Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. This curriculum, including nine videos and accompanying instructional material, is directed at helping children in the early years and grades to identify and prevent prejudice. Teachers who have used this curriculum have found that the videos provide a rich stimulus for enlightening children of the value of diversity, as well as the realities of prejudice and racism within their world. The central characters are animal puppets that are exposed to situations involving exclusion, name-calling, and stereotyping. The adult characters are played by humans from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. The enrichment activities are centered around diversity in problem solving and cooperative learning. This technology-based curriculum is also recommended for special education classes (Lucero, 1997). (Lunenburg, 2000, p. 519)
The essential lessons help the multiage mentoring go more smoothly and also offer an overall dialogue for the students to follow on a daily basis, which supports positive interactions and understanding needs for intervention when interactions begin to travel the slippery slope of negative interactions.
This program answers definitive questions for children and supports a democratic and multicultural classroom with practical examples of positive interactions and examples of the manner in which negative interactions make others feel.
My teaching philosophy has been highly influenced by the works of Rinaldi and Freire. Carlina Rinaldi stresses that the teacher is not a child in an adults' body but a co-creator and collaborator who brings tot the teaching experience the knowledge of an adult and the understanding of the child's perspective. The transmission of knowledge through lecture and instruction is a very limited aspect of teaching that can only be supported and supplemented by actions that express concepts. There is no place where this is more true than with regards to the ECE. Small children do not learn by listening they learn by doing and they are aided along the way by adults who are willing and able to place themselves at child level and "do" with them. Children, according to Rinaldi, possess their own theories, interpretations and questions that must be supported through process of development and cannot simply be dismissed when one individual has more knowledge (i.e. The teacher) than the child. This does not effectively teach the child anything it simply reiterates inexperience and for many children a sense of not being good enough and/or smart enough to do the work of learning. To support children we as ECE professionals must support their own discoveries of right and wrong in experimental and practical ways through an ethic of collaboration and co-creation. "The task of the teacher is to create a context in which children's curiosity, theories and research are legitimated and listened to, a context in which children feel comfortable and confident, motivated and respected in their existential and cognitive paths and processes." (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005, p. 97)
Another researcher and thinker who has been significantly influential to me as an ECE professional is Paulo Freire. In his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed Paulo Freire attempts to bequeath to educators everywhere a blueprint to aid in the transformation of our education system from that of an authoritarian "banking" method to that of a dialogical "problem-posing" based system. Hence the need to early on develop a system of learning that involves adequate stimulation, testing materials and hands on learning, rather than simply telling children what to do and how to think. Freire's road map to freedom is applicable to any revolutionary cause and can be practiced by liberationists of any age as they begin to confront the reality that is their oppression. This could in fact serve as a basis of the development of funding and extension of the education system to meet the essential needs of children far prior to age 5, as this learning period has been shown through countless levels of experience to be the most essential one of all, and one that should not go ignored. In the case of young children they are oppressed in the sense that they have limited voice and cannot adequately express, care for or even support themselves in any way. It is therefore the job of the educator (and the parent) to provide these things for the child in a manner in which they can be self-possessed to do so for themselves in the future. (Freire 1970, p.71) According to Freire it is not only that this system of communication is broken but that it needs to be recognized as the most logical and powerful exchange for change as the group of agitators who finally elicit change will likely be teachers, who have a genuine love for the oppressed and through this will gain a belief in the cause of the oppressed to shirk the oppression that has become their educational indoctrination. "As individuals or as peoples, by fighting for the restoration of our humanity we will be attempting the restoration of true generosity. And this fight, because of the purpose given it, will actually constitute an act of love." (Freire 1970, p. 44)
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