Teachers will tell you that often times the most successful learning for students comes in unexpected moments. In these instances the stars align, children are magically well-behaved, and every intended plan unfolds exactly as expected. Okay, well maybe that is not totally the case, however, time and time again the most successful learning opportunities do happen unexpectedly...or as I prefer to say organically. I love seeing these moments play out with the boys. One never knows where a simple question or breakfast conversation might take us!
We are a house of early risers and the time in the morning from when the boys first wake up until we leave for preschool drop off is my absolute favorite part of the day. Energy is high, there is a ton of conversation, and the possibilities for the day ahead seem endless. Despite the dreary weather, today was no exception as we gathered at the table with our various breakfast items. It all started with a simple statement by Big A: "I want to draw an owl picture for Ms. Jackie." This began an almost hour-long adventure exploring what owls look like, how they live, what letters make the word owl, conversation about colors, and more. This adventure truly evolved organically and set an amazing tone for the entire day.
An important element in organic learning opportunities is flexibility. There is no lesson plan, no preplanned agenda or list of things to accomplish. The boys drive the direction of our discussion(s) based on their curiosity and interest. My job is merely to support early learning concepts (such as sounding out letters), guide them to facts/answers, and to fuel the moment with additional enthusiasm.
You cannot expect an almost four year-old and a two year-old to have the same learning experience, but it is watching their independent journey overlap with the other that makes these group opportunities extraordinary. Big A spent the time exploring where Owls live, what their habitat looks like, and what an owl does. On the other hand, Little A was initially intrigued by trying to "color a picture like the owl" and eventually focused on the letters wanting to name them and draw circles like the letter O. The overlap is found in their conversations. Discussion about how to help one another, questions about a drawing or word...these exchanges unite their learning in the most beautiful way. It is a meaningful and important part of their sibling relationship.
Despite the developmental differences and cognitive capabilities inherent with the boys, I could see their level of understanding grow in this moment. Little A correctly identified the colors for various pieces of chalk he selected, something we have been working on but I have yet to see solidly mastered. I was able to see just how much Big A can plan ahead, making a specific effort to draw in an area while leaving enough room for the elements to add later. These little moments are all part of their overall learning, part of their budding independence and (dare I say) growing love of learning.
All this from a conversation about owls and a desire to draw a picture for a much loved preschool teacher. You might not be able to decipher the meaning behind the amazing artifact on our kitchen chalk wall, but I can assure you there was collaboration, fun, and learning far beyond what I expected when I sat down to breakfast this morning.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com