A forum I follow recently asked readers what philosophy they follow for their children.
This was an interesting question and a chance for me to tease out my current beliefs. My basic training is as an Early Childhood Teacher. Naturally I draw on those years of University training but I also draw on wider reading and the “University of Life”. The latter has really been my most rich training ground, a place where I can experiment and apply ideas. Forget about ideas that seemed good but ended badly.
I have never been one to take a single idea and run with it. It is my nature to explore, research, question and reinvent the wheel to suit the car. The “car” being the individual child.
I think ultimately the best Philosophy is dynamic and responsive to the child, the environment and the opportunities that come along. Sometimes we create the opportunities (like my Twelvetimes) other times opportunity appears like the Skink that the cat was trying to catch today that captured our attention unexpectedly.
My basic philosophy has built from the premise of the child being capable and respected. I am interested in the Kathy Walker approach but I also draw from the likes of Reggio, Montessori, Bronfenbrenner, Gardner and Vygotsky. I prefer to offer open ended play, a range of materials with a preference for natural.
I like activities that make children think and problem solve, I like to supervise risk taking play. When I can offer the real thing I will- if I can’t I offer the closest representation I can. I hate character themed and gaudy battery operated plastic toys. I think if her clothes and play table look immaculate then she didn’t get to have enough fun.
I’m introducing concepts from “How to talk so kids will listen and listen do kids will talk” as an overall behaviour guide. I like to teach concepts in context.
I want her toys to be less available but better presented- we offer toys on trays in baskets and set up as “invitations to play” on small cotton mats.
Books are central and many include non fiction with photos if possible. Art with real materials is offered daily. Outdoor play is free exploring with different materials “lose parts” to extend play.
Lots of sensory play.
I’m passionate about the early years .. That’s the philosophy I’ve come to believe in after years of early childhood teaching and parenting.
I think the simple basic keys are LOVE, TIME and EXPLORATION.
- Love. If you step into something with a loving heart, joyful and passionate your child will learn much about our world. If your child is allowed to experience love from a wide network they will feel surrounded in a blanket of love. Love of self. Love of nature. Love of books and beautiful things, different things and places. Love of family traditions. Love of life.
- Time is critical. Slow it down. Don’t rush them through childhood with adult notions. Give the extra time to let them revisit and extend on play and creativity- that’s when the magic happens.
- Exploration. Explore their world, places, senses, foods, people and knowledge. Explore alone. Explore with a friend. Explore with family. Let them be curious.
Oh and teach them how to be respectful and kind! This world needs more people with compassion.
Grab this approach for yourself too… it’s never too late to live life, experience love, explore this world or grab opportunities.
The best teaching tool is you as your child is watching you embrace life.
This is Miss Bee looking through the floor of a glass bottom boat aged about 6 months.