At the 5-star center in the NC Piedmont Triad, the bulletin boards installed around the center displayed commercial and adult products, not what children are doing. I recommended the teachers display and document children’s work, with short captions that explain why children are doing what they’re doing – what they’re learning.
Likewise, classrooms had an abundance of adult-initiated work, use of templates that children added something to. Instead, teachers can provide open-ended materials for children’s work: their art, scribbling, writing, crafts, creativity – materials that encourage exploration, problem-solving, and thinking, rather than following an adult template or pattern.
What do you see in child care centers?
Not only is the center I visited state-licensed, it’s also nationally accredited. Most of the teacher interactions with children were positive, nurturing, and responsive to the child’s needs. But there were a few exceptions. A toddler put a stick in his mouth on the playground, and a teacher took it from him and threw it on the ground, saying, “That’s nasty.” No discussion.
The scheduled time for naps was over. One little guy was still sound asleep on his cot and did not want to get up. However, nap time was over and the teacher physically picked him up from the cot and took him to the table for snacks, where he sat crying loudly.
A teacher was holding a toddler who had become upset about his mother leaving him. He slapped her, and she put him on the floor, saying, “I’m done.”
What would you have done?
The center I visited in Virginia is state-licensed and is part of a national chain known for better teacher salaries and benefits and high program quality. And children were happy and busy during most of my visit.
But some of the preschoolers didn’t have enough interesting things to choose from during the morning free choice/free play time. The classroom was equipped and teachers were involved with the children’s play, but the teachers had not planned a teacher-led activity for this time.
The lesson plan posted in the room included only one teacher-planned activity for the whole day. Teachers in this room were not using the free choice/free pay time for intentional teaching and learning.
Without enough interesting activities to choose from some children were bored and aggressive with classroom materials and with each other, and teachers were busy with re-directing and guiding.
Do you see this happening in child care and preschools? Why?