When we know better – WE DO BETTER. – Maya Angelou

Young children learn new vocabulary at light speed! The learning is dependent on the range of words they are exposed to.  How do teachers facilitate building vocabulary with very young children? A number of strategies can be employed.  We know that conversation rich environments are vital to cognitive development.  We know that asking good questions can lead to deeper learning.  We know that young children listen to adults for clues to pronunciation, tone, and usage.  Now we know better so we can do better!

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Watch the Youtube and think about what it can teach us!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUyLwXhqlWU

The language of the educators indicates the values held in a school.  Each Preschool, Childcare Center, and Home school has its own culture of language used in caring and working with young children.  Tuning in to these sounds (auditory climate) of a school gives a glimpse into the often unseen world which children encounter.  Do some research.  Set up a recorder, use a Flip Camera, or hit record on the computer for 5 minutes.  Try recording the auditory climate during different times of the day.  Hold discussions with co workers.  What does it tell you about the values of your school?  What does it tell you about your practice?


via Investigating Choice Time: Inquiry, Exploration, and Play | by: Renée Dinnerstein.

I was intrigued by this statement in the blog by Renee Dinnerstein:

“still does some thematic studies but she also listens closely to her children and develops inquiry projects based on their interests and wonderings.”

I love that she listens closely to the children.  I wonder that questions she and the children pose to develop inquiry projects.  Think about the questions that the teacher may have raised to children about the wheelchair.  Think about the different approach.  Instead to direct instruction about wheelchairs, children’s inquiry was so much more that the regurgitation of facts.  The teacher’s support of the children, including the questions  and comments gave a framework for authentic learning!

Friends, it’s time to line up.” “All my friends, come to circle.”  ” Billy, hold your friend’s hand.”   Is it appropriate to name one child as another’s friend?  Do we know for sure they truly are friends?  Preschool is a critical time when young children are learning about friendship, should we be careless with the term, “friend”?  What do we call the group?  What is the professional and accurate way to address a group?  Do we use “children”  ” boys and girls” or “preschoolers“?  What about individuals?  If we make an effort to call each child by his or her name, does that support the value we place on relationships and individualization?  While using the term “friends” occasionally may not  be an issue, the habitual over use  should  lead us to question ourselves.  Communication is at the heart of our work. If we strive for a level of conscious communication, we reach a new level of professionalism.

Resources that help us look at our language:

Katz,L &McClellan, D. (1999). Fostering Children’s Social Competence: 1999 (2nd Edition).  Washington DC.NAEYC

Murray, Carol Garboden. Creating a Culture that Acknowledges the Power of Words

Have you ever heard someone tell a young child to use “walking feet” only to see them run down the hall?  Or “keep your hands to yourself” only to see them touch everything they pass.  What’s happening, are they listening and just disregarding what you say?  Maybe they don’t understand what you are saying… of course they are keeping hands to themselves their hands can’t come off! Yes, they see feet that walk, but they can also run! When talking with young children remember to use direct language. ” Will, I noticed that you walked quietly and safely in the hall like we practiced.”  Using direct language conveys a belief that children will choose positive behaviors.  It conveys caring for the child.  Listen to yourself and those around you…notice how many times we say things and children respond in unexpected ways…”We don’t hit at school”  (Yes we do, watch this!) Next time use the direct approach and see what happens.

“When the child comes to the doorstep of school, we welcome all of him and everything he brings.”  Vea Vecchi

The inspiring words from Vea Vecchi, educator in Reggio Emilia, Italy guide our work at The Preschool each and every day.  Think about what that quote is really saying!  Words are important. When we welcome a child  each day, what do we say?  How do we say it? What tone do we use? What body language is present ? Have you thought about your practice of welcoming children to your school, your classrooms?

Joy, happiness, capabilities, curiosity, wisdom, and caring are easy to welcome!  But what about worries, fears, frustration, hunger, limitations, anger, and tiredness… how do we welcome these? Spend some time reflecting on this quote.  Have a discussion.

With our words, we convey our values and expectations about children, which, in turn, influence children’s beliefs and expectations about themselves. Our words and tone of voice have a profound effect on children. By tuning in to the language we use, day in and day out, we can truly welcome the child, “…all of him and everything he brings.”