Saturday started out as a typical childcare conference that I attend every fall but very quickly turned exciting. Seems I have lost a bit of my learning desire since I have a closing date for my childcare. I don't do any less w/them than I was, I haven't changed anything INside my childcare, just doing less OUTside it I guess. I used to go to every training & conference I could schedule, even working to bring some to our local small town area, now, I only do what is required to keep my registration.
Now, back to Saturday. The topics were all new to me so I just signed up for sessions held by presenters I had heard rave reviews about. WOW Was I NOT let down! these girls were FABULOUS!!! They both present the idea & concept of a child led environment that I have gotten knocked on in the past for being 'lazy' or 'too passive' with them. I have lost families during interviews when I told them I didn't do an organized preschool program in my home. We have 3 current preschool programs in our small town, there is no need for me to do one too. I provide a loving, in home, relaxed option for the times that they aren't at school or other organized function (dance, ball, church, etc) I did try a couple of different programs at different times in my 16 years of childcare. both times, I was stressed to the max to be sure that I had the right supplies, the right kids, & all supplies prepped & ready to roll only to find that I was going to have an unexpected itty bitty that day, or the littles were not at all interested in our 'lesson' or 'craft'. So I finally went back to the free play environment we had before & all was once again, right with the world. We learn our colors, how to count, potty trained, taking turns, sharing, doing puzzles, how to hold a crayon, some even start on their letters & numbers before starting preschool. but it is all done in a child led environment. I never again stressed & planned lessons.
How do we learn these important things in such a laid back setting?
Colors: well, our cups are all different colors, our cots are 2 different colors, we have colored chairs & we all wear colored clothing that we talk about regularly
Counting: we had to count our friends to know how many cups & plates to take to the table for lunch Potty Training: we potty train when their bodies were ready, not when mom, dad or Kim is ready
Taking Turns~ well, that might have been the toughest one but when the bathroom door is shut, you must wait, even if it means you do a little dance until it opens ;)
Sharing comes naturally through playing with toys with our friends
Puzzles, Coloring & Games are just some things we do when someone wants to
Now this may sound like total chaos to you, but honestly, letting them decide what they want to do & when accompanied with pretty distinct ground rules & boundaries before its started & then SUPPORTING those ground rules & boundaries is what makes my childcare home work so efficiently. I could trust almost all of my littles to color at the table while I was in the next room cooking lunch, I could usually trust all of them to play politely in the playroom 2 rooms away from me. When they were doing something they wanted to do, something they had chosen to do, they were calm, happy & content to do it. When I tried to force them to do something that wasn't at their level, THAT is when the chaos ensued.
I hope & plan to update you on some of the activities I learned about on Saturday & Plan to incorporate into our environment this week & future weeks & months ahead.