Sunday, 30 October 2011

Who knew - I'm polar bear educator

I found some brilliant blogs this year & made some new friends along the way. There is no doubt that my teaching has been refreshed through the 'blogosphere'. It is always incredible to make instant connections with others around the world. I have even now gained a new term for my teaching approach - I'm a Polar bear educator. Read the fabulous post here from Russell where I first saw the term used.
It takes practice to be able to climb up & down again.
I also loved this post on risky play, from Aunt Annie's Childcare it really reminded me of my class during outdoor play. I attended a conference a few years ago on developing your outdoor area & the speaker said "Unless you can think of 3 good reasons (apart from safety) why a child shouldn't do something, don't stop them" and she stressed that "It'll take me ages to clean that up, it'll be too messy, it looks like it might be risky" were not good enough reasons. I have adopted this in my teaching and luckily all my staff are in agreement with this too. I have also added "If they can get up, they can get down" to a rule on climbing things, and my favourite "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than seek permission" - this last one comes in when we paint the walls/fence outside etc. I am so fortunate to have always had principals who trusted me in this approach - they know that I am not putting children in danger I am challenging them and they are not too precious about the appearance of the place.

I was stunned when a photo of a child standing on 3 milk crates pouring water down a gutter pipe received a collective gasp of astonishment & horror at a recent course of nursery educators. To me it could have been any day in my playground and it also made me realise that not all children are getting the same opportunities as the children in my class are.
We play with sticks, we dig with metal shovels, we climb UP slides and if we didn't we would missed out on all these learning opportunities.

So I will continue to allow children to push the bounderies & challenge themselves in the safe, secure space of the playground or our local woodland classroom or the wonderful sensory garden at a neighbouring school. I hope I am creating fantastic memories for these children of a time when they felt empowered to try new things that made them feel like they had conquered Mount Everest!

Linked to: Kreative Resources