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The Educators Journal

…think, inspire, reflect…

Self Reflection is Key!

Self reflection is key, especially in the early childhood sector. I am so lucky, for the past 2.5 years I have been working along side not only a friend but a phenomenal educator who is one of those lucky few that seem to be able to educate in a way that others only dream of. With passion, with the patience of a saint, with the  ability to wait and watch and ‘just know’ what experience or question will extend the children’s learning and/or development.

One of the most valuable things I have learnt from working along side Carly is to reflect. Critically reflect on EVERYTHING! Through reflecting it is only now that I am truly understanding my role as an educator.

I find this article really helpful and user friendly when reflecting.

 

 

 

A Mums point of view

As an educator and a parent I thought I had a good insight as to how to approach families when as a professional I felt that something may not be quite right in their child’s development or behaviour. I had always made sure that I had researched any advice I gave any family to reinforce that their child’s behaviours are age appropriate to some degree, although in other areas they may need some help from not only us as their family and educators but occasionally from outside professionals.

It never dawned on me how a parent might feel until this year.

1 in 20 children has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). I believe that 1 of those children may be my son Leo. Leo just turned 3. Since Leo has been around 15months old nearly every time we go to the shop, out for dinner or anywhere else relatively busy we have to leave because he either runs away or becomes absolutely hysterical. Not ‘sad hysterical’ but so hysterical he can’t hear a word we are saying, can’t concentrate and then becomes violent and inconsolable until he is in his car seat where he can self-regulate, sometimes taking up to 15  minutes. Leo has a speech delay that I always put down to the multiple ear infections and grommets he had when he was younger. When Leo eats he spits mainly meat out, it didn’t click until now that it is possible that this is related.

While in Tassie for a 8 week holiday Leo developed separation anxiety, so bad that I couldn’t go to the toilet without him seeking me out. He also refused to wear shoes. I got the old ‘just make him wear them’ and ‘he’ll leave them on once he gets used to them’ from everyone and anyone. After  6 weeks of 30-minute tantrums everytime we left the house all because he couldn’t stand to wear shoes, I gave up.

My husband and I had had enough. I thought there must be something going on…parenting shouldn’t be this hard all the time, and that’s when I started researching. I found the SPD Australia website and it was like I was reading information written about Leo.

And then it dawned on me…Every single time Leo would run away or chuck a ‘tantrum’ I would label him as naughty, I would growl at him and I had even gotten to the point of asking him ‘Why? Why do you ruin every time we go out Leo? Can’t you just be good!?’

I’m not silly and I do know he is a 3-year-old boy and don’t worry Leo is mischievous as they come. But most of his big meltdowns had a pattern, they all occurred when there were differences to the environment. When we were in Tassie his environment was vastly different, every time I wasn’t there he would have a meltdown. In busy areas such as markets, water parks, restaurants, etc. He will have a melt down or run away when his room at childcare is noisy and busy he has a meltdown. When his feet are restricted by shoes he will have a meltdown. It took me a while to notice this pattern and when we returned to Darwin I asked his educators to let me know if they suspected anything. That’s when Leo started biting during meltdowns, mainly on big days when the room was very busy and loud.

Leo’s educators are the best, for me it was amazing that they had taken my concerns so seriously and followed through so promptly, I guess in a way it gave me the nudge to really follow through with this, even though I am an educator I am still a parent so I still had a few reservations; only because like every parent, through my eyes my child is ‘wonderfully perfect.’

What I wasn’t expecting was ‘the guilt.’ The guilt that for the past nearly two years I have labelled my own son as naughty, I have lost my cool with him numerous times, I have cried and cried because I got ‘the naughty kid who doesn’t listen.’ I keep thinking if I had of just looked into this sooner I could have helped him so much already; but still, we have loads of time.

It has taken me a week to write this as I have been mostly hugging my Leo Lion and looking at how ‘wonderfully perfect’ he is to me, I have been crying in guilt that I am a bad Mum for taking so long to recognise the signs and taking any chance I can to describe what SPD is to my husband and reading up on it as much as possible.

This is going to be a massive learning journey for Leo, for me, for my husband and for Leo’s educators, but one I know we can conquer together.

Over the past 2 weeks, this has made me reflect so much not only as a Mum but as an educator. I am a professional and I will continue to research any information I intend on giving any families. But I also now know that I will hug and reassure them that they are good parents when giving them any feedback relating to their child’s development because no doubt they will feel ‘the guilt’ too and if I can help them get through that then we can get through anything because ‘together we can give our children the roots to grow and the wings to fly.’

I have attached the SPD Australia web page link here if you would like to know more about Sensory Processing Disorder.

http://www.spdaustralia.com.au

*Leo was diagnosed with SPM (Sensory Processing Modulation) which is a form of SPD on Tuesday 9th February 2017.

Marte Meo-Maria Aarts-Respectful Interactions

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Marte Meo

Maria Aarts & Josje Aarts

Respectful Interactions

I saw Maria at the Early Childhood Australia Conference in Darwin last October 2016 and really enjoyed and felt inspired by her practice of Marte Meo. (What is MARTE MEO?)

I recently went looking for more information about interactions and thought of Maria’s theory. I found these awesome videos from ‘Mat Time’ by Storypark that explain some of the techniques and how Marte Meo works. It has really made me rethink (again) about how much we can further increase the quality of our everyday interactions with children to help their development and well-being. I really love the way Maria and her sister speak about children and the passion they have for this. It is the most respectful way we could interact.

I feel it is one of those core parts of being a Teacher/Educator.

Links to videos on Youtube below
Maria part 1
Maria part 2
Josje part 1
Josje  part 2

Let us know your thoughts…

Nature

Play is serious

Play is serious learning…

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”

http://happybrownhouse.com/thoughts-on-play-from-mr-rogers/

 

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Extending Learning or Building on  Interests/Activities

I recently read an article on the Early Childhood Australia blog online about extending learning and how it is more than just activities. http://thespoke.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/extending-learning-activities/

This really resonated with me as it has been something I have been thinking about over the past 6 months and have slowly been working towards and I don’t know that most educators really understand it or have thought about.

One of the points that stood out for me was,

“Typically educators focus on content – extending learning about something – soccer, babies, dinosaurs or the weather for example…”

This was something that I was beginning to grasp the concept of at the beginning of last year and began questioning myself about, however I hadn’t come across anything that confirmed my thinking or prompted me any further, but as my planning knowledge developed over the past year I can see that I have moved out of this type of planning and moved more towards extending learning type of thinking.

“Extending children’s learning is about so much more than facts. It covers wellbeing, identity, connection and contribution to world and being a learner. Extending learning encompasses areas such as leadership skills, independence, negotiating, teamwork and ability to work with others. In other words, it includes learning dispositions.”

Is there a tendency in planning to extend learning to think first about the content of an activity – in other words, is it more about extending activities rather than learning?

Is extending children’s learning sometimes confused with building on children’s interests?

I think these are definitely valid questions to ask ourselves and answer.  I will be using these or similar questions this term in my reflections.

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