Welcome to my blog about my experiences working in early childhood. I have called it Nurturing Forests because I believe that raising children is not a isolated activity but takes a whole community.

As early childhood professionals, we are actively involved in this process but we also need to work closely with the children, parents, community as a whole and other allied professionals.

I hope you enjoy my site. I also have a facebook site of the same name where I provide links to useful sites for teachers, parents and others interested in the early childhood: www.facebook.com/nurturingforests

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The challenges of preschool-land

This year I have had the privilege (and sometimes challenge) of working in a preschool a few days a week in a maternity leave position.

Preschool land is very different from Long Day Care land. There are a few basic differences... Much shorter hours (usually only 9-3), the children bring their own food (I really don't like this one... Mostly cause I like being able to eat with the kids :) ), often they are community based centres so have a parent committee and have very little money, they often have staff that have been working in the field for a long time nearly all of my colleagues have been working in early childhood for over 10 years(which I really like some of my colleagues have the most amazing funds of knowledge about early childhood that I know I will always refer to them when I'm puzzling something out), and they have never (until this year) had to go through accreditation.

Where I have been working is very structured and has taught me lots of important things .... Like how to have a lesson plan ready for language and music every day! The lyrics to lots and lots of songs, the importance of scheduled break time, and how to achieve lots of things that the parents love (like daily craft) without burning out.

But there are times when my inner 'progressive' teacher finds it difficult... There is not much time allocated to 'free play' i.e. the opportunity for the children to meaningfully engaged with the materials we have carefully planned for them, there's all the craft, and the fact I really don't feel like I have the opportunity to get to know the families (or the children) as much as I would in long day care. Plus I love long day care as the 0-3 are my favourite age group - I find people regularly underestimate them and they are amazingly capable.

But the thing I find most difficult is the constant desire to make the children 'comply' with lots and lots of unnecessary restrictions... They are almost constantly asked to be quiet, they are expected to be incredibly well behaved during group times (even when the group time is dull), the routine is so rigid that when we were inside due to wet weather the other day a lot of the children couldn't cope with the change.... This worries me - what type of children are we creating?

I want children that are so excited about what I am teaching them that they can't help but call out, I want children that know I am flexible enough with my lesson plans that if they want to read a different book we will, I want noisy children with the confidence to tell me what they really think! I want them so engaged in what we are doing that the time flies by, I want children with great cheeky senses of humour who know how to make me and their peers laugh til we cry..... Surely that's not too much to ask?

What do you think? Is there too much focus on compliance where you work?

Posted by Wendy

"the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy" -Martin Luther King

1 comment:

  1. About a month ago I moved from working in child care (with 2-3 year olds) to working in a community preschool. I have been brought on as part of the preschools need to get up to speed with all things accreditation.
    It is a totally different world - but I'm enjoying it.

    Having a storeroom with 30 years worth of resources is amazing! Our kids bring their own lunch, we sit and eat our lunch with them, could you consider introducing that? I found group times were happening for the sake of it, rather than actually being planned.

    Not all preschools are the same - just as not all childcares are the same. I would say the preschool room at my old day care was alot more regimented than the preschool I am at now. So I do think it has alot to do with the teachers. It's tricky when you are on a temporary contract but hopefully you are able to put some of your ideas out there :)