Contract for Grade--Part 2 (Through Jan. 30) : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Early Childhood and Family Education Presentation

Monday, January 11, 6:00-7:30 PM

Lisa West

The structure of Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) classes are designed to be enriching for children as well as parents. The class begins by having parents interact in a playroom with children, familiarizing them with the environment and stimulating toys around them. Instructors then begin to interact with the children, encouraging socialization and creative play. A craft or an art activity in introduced after about 15 minutes. The children and the parents or the instructors (depending upon the comfort level of the child) work on it together. This gives the child experience with scissors, paper, glue, paints, playdough, and other manipulative media. After 15 minutes or so, there is another group activity called circle time where the children, parents and instructors do large motor activities involving music. Circle time lasts about 10 minutes. At this point parents bring their children over to a little picnic table for snack time. They are treated to a nutritious snack while parents prepare to step into another room for a parenting group called breakaway. After snack the children are taken by instructors to run and play in the gym or ride tricycles. Infants are kept in the play area with other instructors or their aids.

I presented to an ECFE parenting class during the breakaway session, on the issue of School Readiness. I realized that the class I would be presenting to was a parent group with children of mixed ages, ranging from birth to age 4, so I included ideas that were developmentally appropriate for all of those ages and would help give children experiences that would build background knowledge.

In the breakaway session I began by formally introducing myself and my reasons for coming. I explained that I was required to do some sort of project for a class I was taking, but was able to pick and choose among many projects. I chose this one because it directly relates to the work I do with children. I explained that a childs education does not begin when they enter school but at birth. Parents are the first and can be the most effective educators. What parents do with a child really does make a difference.

The main message that I wanted to give parents was that children need experiences upon which to build concepts. We discussed the two different types of experiences, which are direct and indirect, and I gave examples of each. I opened the discussion to those who wanted to share ways that they provide experiences. We discussed the importance of reading to children and I shared some of my childrens favorite books which contain a lot of rhythm and rhyme. I handed out literature related to children and the positive effects of reading. I reviewed the public librarys summer reading program, which is free and open to all ages. I answered questions about how the reading process begins once children enter school. As for direct experiences, I shared some of the fun at-home activity books with the group, that have many creative, inexpensive ideas for simple arts, crafts, science exploration and water play activities. The experience of holding a pencil and crayons, and the ability to cut with scissors was discussed as an important skill for preschoolers. I also brought up the issue of how important socialization is as well as increasing self-reliance as children are able to do more for themselves. I handed out pamphlets for the Minnesota Childrens Museum, which is a museum for young children in St. Paul, where everything can be touched and manipulated.

One thing that I stressed in presenting all of this information, is that we cant be super parents and do it all. It is not necessary for parents to feel like they have to take the place of school in doing all kinds of activities. The goal is to give a child experiences upon which to build concepts. There are many ways to do this and however we can fit it into our lives and budgets is helpful. Asking the question, "What can I do to give my child helpful experiences?" and seeking the answer from those resources available, is the best we as parents can do for our child or children.

I felt that the evening went very well. The group was responsive and talked a lot. Questions were asked and the dialogue went on and on. It was my perception that the parents found the information interesting. One parent was amazed at the importance placed upon reading to children, and when she left she said she was really going to make more of an effort to do that. This was a good experience for me, because I forget how many different parenting styles and backgrounds there are. Family structures are varied and therefore stresses in families can be greater. This was a window for me to see into the lives of parents as I listened to their ideas and how they can be shaped by circumstances of their lives. I dont know why I have always assumed that parents send their children to school knowing what is expected. Whether or not they chose to help was a decision they made. I learned that some parents may not know and perhaps the time to start passing expectations on to parents is early on through programs such as ECFE. This type of education is so important if we as educators want to have students who come to school ready to learn, with the skills and background needed to begin their formal education.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 1999


Contract for a "B."

-- Anonymous, January 24, 1999

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