A couple of weeks ago a professional FB group I belong to posted a challenge to choose 16 photographs that best describe our program. 16?!? How do I choose 16 out of over 1000?!? “Can I combine photos to make a single photo?” Nope! Any post over 16 photos would be deleted… Well! Challenge accepted! It took me about a week to narrow down my selections. It was torturous. Choose this, exclude that. Ultimately I chose my 16 and I think they are a pretty good representation of who we are and what we do and yes, you will notice that there are a couple of photos that I combined for this post but since I run this site, I gave myself permission to cheat! Here are my top 16 picks of 2016 in no particular order (except #1 & #2):
1. Our staff! These 7 women make it possible. Everyday they come to work with the dedication to carry out our vision. None of them come from a play-based background yet they enthusiastically embrace our mission, attend trainings, read and put into practice the research and see first-hand why learning through play is the only way to truly guide our littles. They don’t ask “why?”, they ask “why not?”.
2. Our Families! Part of the conditions of enrollment in our program is the agreement that each family is required to volunteer a minimum of 15 hours each year. Participation at parties, donations, attending the annual work day and simply reading a couple of stories to the littles are all examples of how families add to our village. Our environment is richer because of them.
3. Trust. Risk. Power. Trust your little to know their own limits. Provide your little enough risk so they can know what their limits are. Do you remember how powerful you felt when you were taller than the world? Our rules for climbing the fence? You may go up as high as you feel comfortable. You may not go over (today anyway). You may climb where there is dirt beneath you (no concrete). Staff stand close by and trust these littles to negotiate the complexities of climbing a chain-link fence because one day they are going to do it without someone spotting them.
4. Awards! Our Ms. Tressa was awarded the Terri Lynne Lokoff/Children’s Tylenol National Child Care Teacher Award this past year. Each year the foundation recognizes 50 child care teachers across the United States who exemplify excellence in child care and Ms. Tressa certainly fits the bill! Read more about the award here. She was also awarded a Certificate of Recognition from Governor Edwards in honor of her national award.
5. and 6. Social Emotional Resiliency. Mastering the ability to control your emotions is a long process. Let’s face it, some adults I know still don’t have the ability! Providing a multitude of opportunity for our littles to practice emotional control is essential. Allowing them to work through conflicts, negotiate terms of the game or comfort each other are all examples of how they practice.
7 to 11. Exploration and Autonomy. Our littles are given the time and the materials to explore as they see fit. Yes, we have overall guidelines like ask someone if they want mud thrown at them before you throw it and you can’t take something away from someone if they are not done using it but we are able to provide a place and space for the littles to figure things out on their own.
12. Spatial Awareness doesn’t just happen but working with bubbles is a fun way to practice!
13. Opportunity to explore “what ifs”! Working a see saw backwards is not as easy as it looks.
14. Fine motor development. The adult agenda behind this activity was to make bird seed playdough. The children’s agenda was much different but the fine motor development that came out of this activity was amazing and there’s a good amount of visual discrimination thrown in there to boot!
15. Our love affair with loose parts. So much more learning than with a toy that only does one thing. Our world is changing and what was once is no more. It’s critical for our children to be able to think about things in a new way, to be able to figure out that there is more than one way to do things and that cannot be done with toys that only serve one purpose. Have you ever threatened that next time you get your little a gift, it will just be the box the toy came in? Children learn so much more when given parts and pieces like empty boxes, bricks, boards, sticks, rocks, buttons, ribbons, blocks…
16. Trust! Adults trusting that the child can use a hammer and follow all the safety rules that accompany the use of said hammer (or whatever the tool happens to be) and littles trusting one another to work together toward a main goal.
There are so many more images that capture who and what we are because we are so much more than just 16 photos. Visit our Facebook page to see them all.