Saturday, March 23, 2019

Defending The Early Years: Teachers Speak Out!


I was so thrilled to be invited to participate in Defending The Early Years' groundbreaking series called " Teachers Speak Out!" I have a lot to say and jumped at the opportunity to share the magic of play. 

In this video I use stories and examples of rich authentic play, what we as educators can do to promote such play and the types of benefits young children gain when permitted time, space, and materials to play.  

"I think that we need to provide environments that are conducive to play. We need spaces where children are trusted and adults and allow them to do what they naturally do." 


Please watch and share this video in your networks. Let's work together to ensure that ALL children are provided the opportunity to play. 

- Kisha Reid 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Times are a Changin







Gone are the days when all the kids in the neighbourhood ran home, dropped their bags after school and went outside to play with all the other kids. Between after school childcare, structured lessons, sports and video games most kids are too busy to join in neighbourhood play.

One thing that was a skill naturally picked up was adaptability. Adapting to change, adapting to environment, adapting to other kids wishes and requests during play is bessential in the outdoors classroom. Unstructured, unsupervised play was only possible if the kids were able to adapt and change their play according to the conditions that day.

How was this learned in free play?

Peter Gray in his book, Free To Learn talks about true play being the ability to leave play. It used to be you had complete freedom to leave, you could go home or go to another friend’s house or yard. While being in child care means you can withdraw from the play happening, most centres have a list of rules that for safety or convenience have to be followed. Children have to stay within the play yard or the house/centre building. Children have to share, have to participate in group time or activities together without the freedom to withdraw. Kids before, in unsupervised and unstructured play, had to work harder and be adaptable to other kids needs and wants to keep the participants there. They learned if they were inflexible they were often left alone.

When playing outside with friends there were constant obstacles- the ball was not inflated- the fort wouldn’t stay up - falling into the creek meant a soaker. Without parents or adults standing around making suggestions of how to get to the ball to inflate, what was wrong with the fort or how to make a wet boot more comfortable or come to the rescue with an extra pair, kids were left to come up with solutions and adapt themselves or their play materials to continue having fun. Adults are really good problem solvers and sometimes are regulated into having to help (health and safety issue - to walk in a wet boot as my childhood blistered feet could tell you). Other times it is just an adult’s desire to “do something” as Zoe Arnold talked about in “What’s your role?” On our first podcast.

Learning for adults is different than learning for kids. When children are outside they learn many valuable things and have the possibility to learn in any direction without having to worry about adult approval. They can learn without adults knowledge of the correct information or adults often misguided understanding of where the learning is going or that it was even desired to be going somewhere.

To be able to watch a butterfly emerge from a cocoon without having to learn names or stages. To be able to figure out why your fort is leaking without having to learn about waterproofing or best engineering principles. It is the magic of learning . When you come across the information later, either through interest or planned play you have wisdom with you from experience to understand instead of applying learned knowledge to tasks . This only increases your ability to do a task by following instructions.

In today’s time it is hard to capture the magic of play unstructured and unsupervised but check our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Childonground to get links to my podcast. We will chat this February on the podcast, blogs and newsletter so you can find out how you can create similar situations to increase adaptability for your kids or your home daycare / daycare center.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

They Don't Get It

They don't get it...
They don't get that children are made to run.
They don't get that children NEED the sun.
They don't get that emotions run high.
They don't get all of the reasons why.
They don't get that we do this because it is right.
They don't get that childhood is not something to fight.


They don't get that they learn even when they play.
They don't get that they need it for most of their day.
They don't get that we planned this it's no mistake.
They don't get that its work, not a piece of cake.



They don't get that we study how children grow.
They don't get that we do this because we know.
They don't get that childhood is fleeting.
They don't get that their needs are what we are meeting.


They don't get that the mess can be cleaned and washed away.
They don't get that those memories will last and stay.
They don't get that the learning is deep within each child.
They don't get that children learn in the wild.

They don't get why the place has junk galore.
They don't get the pull of good junks lore.
They don't get the spark of imaginative play.


They don't get that children are loud and quiet and soft and fast and slow.
They don't get what they just don't know.
They don't get that children are people too.
They don't get that they NEED to do what they do.




They don't get that growth comes day by day.
They don't get that they all have our own time and our own way.



They don't remember...

They don't REMEMBER it...
They don't REMEMBER that children are made to run.
They don't REMEMBER that children NEED the sun.
They don't REMEMBER that emotions run high.
They don't REMEMBER all of the reasons why.
They don't REMEMBER that we do this because it is right.
They don't REMEMBER that childhood is not something to fight.


They don't REMEMBER that they learn even when they play.
They don't REMEMBER that they need it for most of their day.
They don't REMEMBER that we planned this it's no mistake.
They don't REMEMBER that it's work, not a piece of cake.



They don't REMEMBER that play's how children grow.
They don't REMEMBER that they do this because they know.
They don't REMEMBER that childhood is fleeting.
They don't REMEMBER that their needs are what play is meeting.

They don't REMEMBER that the mess can be cleaned and washed away.
They don't REMEMBER that those memories will last and stay.
They don't REMEMBER that the learning is deep within each child.
They don't REMEMBER that children learn in the wild.

They don't REMEMBER why the place has junk galore.
They don't REMEMBER the pull of good junks lore.
They don't REMEMBER the spark of imaginative play.

They don't REMEMBER that children are loud and quiet and soft and fast and slow.
They don't REMEMBER what they used to know.
They don't REMEMBER that children are people too.
They don't REMEMBER that they NEED to do what they do.

They don't REMEMBER that growth comes day by day.
They don't REMEMBER that we all have our own time and our own way.

-Kisha Reid

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Play Belongs To The Child

Real play opens the doors to the kind of learning the sticks. The learning that is so deeply embedded in a person that it becomes who they are.

Real play is guided by a force from within each child. I liken me setting that up for them as another way we adults see ourselves as superior, we think that we know, more than the child what their own interests and needs are.

I came to the realization that they do a much better job at that than I do. If I see a child showing they need to run, jump, break things, be alone, color big, lift something heavy, work quietly, get up high, be sad, have a hug... I alter the environment so that they can seek and find what it is they need.

If they are interested in pets or zoos or doctors, I trust that they will use the wonderful loose parts to explore that topic through play. I will not set up that play for them eliminating their need to create what they see in their imagination, eliminating their need to construct their own play.

Play they construct has a realness to it, I see something come alive in their eyes when they own their own play.

It ebbs and flows and grows as time passes, the children navigate it, I hold no ownership of it, I seek to teach nothing, I instead allow the seeking to come from the hearts and minds of the children and the teaching to come from the play.


Friday, October 6, 2017

What if they don't want to Read?


Drawing in the dirt can be one process on the way to reading. 


What if they don’t want to learn to read?


By Barbara Sheridan 

A big question that parents have for child directed learning schools is what if they don’t want to learn.

There are several processes that may be happening. 

Is it not developmentally appropriate for them (they are pushing reading way to early in schools these days studies have shown), is it not the right way for them to learn - are they loving hooked on phonics videos but not picking up reading, maybe they are sight reading kids or, like many kids I have seen, developed their own unique encoding/decoding. 

Are they actually working on pre reading skills? Children are often working on skills that may not look like typical classroom pre reading skills. Digging or using sticks in the dirt is one pre reading skill. Working on balance in different positions is another as sitting requires managing proprioceptive input so even moving around is a pre reading skill. 

Are they interested in something else right now which is interfering in the understanding of reading. For some children is hard for some kids who are learning numbers and numeracy to learn letters at the same time because they are both symbolic languages but use different areas of the brain and are used for different processes. 

Teachers can take different approaches in this. Some teachers are instinctual and just trust the process so they don’t necessarily need to know why the child is not wanting to learning to read right now but they do trust that there is a good reason and that the child will develop the skills needed to learn, find the right way to decode/encode or that when they are finished with one process they will be ready to incorporate the next process they are ready for. Other teachers become researchers, observing, watching and reading on child development, psychological processes and/or cognitive studies and strive to better understand how to support the child in their process. 

Self directed facilitators or teachers view their role as supporting the child right here and right now with the process they are currently engaged with and do not worry about the process that the child is not working on. 



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

GOT JUNK?

GOT JUNK?

By: Kisha Reid


The beauty of a child-lead classroom is that the children set up their own learning. We, the adults provide an environment rich with open-ended loose parts and allow the children to explore, play, and imagine their many uses. Permission, time, space, support and a genuine interest in their process provide the bases for limitless learning.

This is why the "junk" method works well at our school. Junk provides so many possibilities, has no rules and does not hold much value to the adults in the room; therefore we have less attachment to it, we worry less about it getting broken, ruined, or misused.

It's cheap and you can get it anywhere! In fact, in many cases it's FREE! I once had someone pay me to take their junk!

Its other value lies in its ability to force children to be creative, to make something out of nothing. To reimagine a typical use for an item to make it work for their own ideas. Children are inventors, engineers, and designers in their pay with open-ended loose junk.


When using "junk" children must communicate their ideas and plans, they often collaborate to build up their play. This sparks a need to collaborate, share, and accept the ideas of others.

Play scripts grow and change and are as creative as the loose junk its self. Each new open-ended junk piece makes way for new ideas, new ways of thinking and new opportunity to express ideas with others. 
So knowing all of this makes "JUNK" a very valuable part of a child-lead play-based childhood. 

GOT JUNK?  

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Seed Of Inquiry

By: Kisha Reid

" It has a ladybug head, face.. without the dots"
"Yeah, but it looks like it has...."
"It's some sort of beetle"
"Caterpillar"


Children ran from stump to stump flipping them on their side then squatting down softly brushing mulch and dirt to the side, sifting through the earth until they saw signs of life.. a wiggle of a worm, a hole leading to the home of a cluster of ants, the rapid scurry of a centipede escaping the light.  The excitement is thick in the air, so thick you can feel it as they run with such purpose seeming to be deeply engulfed in the mission to discover life; foreign or familiar each discovery is exciting and celebrated.

As the children experience the traits of the different life they find, I notice that they have collected data, compiled beliefs and examined theories, each time storing this new knowledge to use as a reference for the next bug encounter.

A natural tendency to sort and classify data unfolds. If you don't watch closely, their keen ability to file and store this new found data could go unnoticed. I am not even convinced that they know they do it. It's second nature as they play with and explore topics of interest.

The interwoven thoughts and understanding that each child shares only serves as an additional resource through which the children collect and investigate their ways of thinking.  As they explore they openly share ideas, think out loud and contribute to the bank of thought acting as a member of a community of learners.

Through this process new thinking is developed, old thinking is debunked or confirmed. Children are in a state of flexibility, welcoming new ways of thinking new perspectives and letting go of old ways of thinking. Play and exploration provoke such an open-mindedness that allows new learning to plant seeds that grow over time into concrete learning that stays with the child into adulthood.

This process is all the more valuable when we allow natural curiosity to be the spark, catalyst, and conduit for learning.


This organic process can not be planned or recreated artificially because the true seed is born out of authentic interest. This deep connection to the experience is born the moment the child or children seek it out and fill the space where curiosity lives in their soul.



No paper bug project will grow this seed, it will only serve as a disconnection from the real thing.  No plastic bug will water this seed, it will only serve as an experience once removed from the real thing thus pulling them further from the experience. No adult providing facts will shine light on this seed, it will only serve as a damper on the flame of their innermost urges to discover, explore, examine, think, hypothesize, conclude, question, test, re-think and repeat.

                                                                                                         

Keeping the Seed of Inquiry Alive 


1. Allow time, space, and permission for play.

2. Do not hijack play. ( http://playempowers.blogspot.com/2017/04/hijacking-play.html) 

3. Allow learning to unfold at the pace of the individual child.

4. Only enter when invited or needed.

5. Welcome ideas and processes of learning that may not feel comfortable or look like your own.

6. Provide materials to support children as they deepen their understanding and question their thinking.

7. Support, don't solve. Support the children through the process of solving their own problems do not solve their problems for them. Forgoing the process robs them of the opportunity to learn from it.

8. Be present, engaged, and live in the spirit of inquiry in your daily work with children.

9. Allow repeated exposure without rushing the child to the next phase, allow the timeline to be theirs.

10. Accept all ideas as valuable.


www.facebook.com/discoveryearlylearning/