Saturday, 15 February 2014

My Supports

First and foremost my boyfriend has always supported my educational endeavors. Deciding to go back to school and take my master’s degree while working full-time was both a huge financial decision and one that has also limited my time at home. After work, I usually have a laptop on my knees either tending to my responsibilities and planning as a classroom kindergarten teacher or completing weekly tasks for my courses at Walden. I love what I do and my boyfriend truly understands and support this passion. I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t not only understand this about me but also love and appreciate my passion as part of my character and who I am.

My parents have always cheered me on with regards to my academic career. I have always marched to the beat of my own drum and they have supported this as well. I am very stubborn and driven, together these two traits combined usually end with me getting an idea in my head and pursuing it in its entirety. After my undergraduate degree, I decided to continue my education by obtaining my educational diploma. When I told my parents I was going to move to Australia with a friend to travel and study, my parents weren’t too excited about the idea. They trust my decisions and support me in all of my choices. I am so grateful to have such great parents.

As supportive as my family and boyfriend are, I am very lucky to have close friends in the field who truly understand my role and responsibilities as an educator. We can share concerns, discuss strategies and just be there for one another to talk, laugh and let’s face it some days cry. I honestly do not know what I would do without these people as my support system. I would truly be lost.

This task was very difficult and to be honest quite emotional. I thought about what it would be like to lose my sense of sight because someone close to me is currently experiencing this. First, I would need tons of emotional support from my family and friends because this would be devastating. Also, I believe I would need an outside source to talk to as well to grieve my loss and to help support me in ways that my family and friends couldn’t. I know that there are social workers and psychologists who are dedicated to helping people deal with sickness and injury and the repercussions it has on one’s life. I would need support to learn how to complete everyday tasks that I once completed independently with ease. I would need support in learning how to live my life again essentially because I use my eyes for everything. I know that my family and friends would be there for me no matter and would stand by and support me no matter how difficult it would be. It would be so hard to lose the independence I have now, I am used to driving myself everywhere I need to go, cooking, cleaning, dressing myself, reading, using my computer… and these things would all now require some form of support (people-to drive me, technology and assistance). Even things that once brought me joy would need to be rethought- for example watching my favorite TV programs, now I would need to listen with video description. My entire life as I know it would change, I couldn’t cope without the people I love and I couldn’t function without various forms of external support.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

My Connections to Play

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein
How great is this quote? I truly believe this to be true. If you allow a child to find answers for him or herself rather than just spoon feed the answers the learning is so much greater. Furthermore, if it is the child who asks the questions and you empower him or her with resources to find the answers and draw their own conclusions the learning is even better! When I was a child I was so blessed to have two great parents who allowed me to explore and learn with their aid. I remember conducting experiments in our kitchen, making messes while mixing ingredients but always excited about the outcome. They not only allowed me to do this but they indulged in it and prompted me to explore certain things to see what happened. Play is learning, and it really is the deepest and richest form of growth.
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” 
– O. Fred Donaldson
I feel that this quote is deeply connected to the quote I referenced above. Play is both social and academic. Children learn to solve conflicts during play and are therefore learning a great skill that will be essential for their entire lifetime. Children will make mistakes and will learn from them and will often find out what didn’t work to fix it for the next time. When making a tower a child may learn that, “oops it was really tipsy because the bigger blocks are on the top” next time when making a tower they will remember to use the bigger blocks as the base. Children often ask questions while playing and want to figure things out to make their play even grander. If they are engaged and calling the shots they are so driven to learn and grow because it is their interests.
I grew up on the lake in the country. My parents ensured (sometimes forced) us to go outside at least once a day. We loved it and lived out there. 

I of course had a well-stocked collection of trolls and Barbies. 
I was always doing art and craft projects. Some of my favorites were the shrinkable sun catchers, beading, making bracelets or jewellery or making cards and crafts using paper, sparkles etc. 
My brother and I got a Creepy Crawlers bug maker oven for Christmas one year and it is still something we talk about. We would make goop bugs with my dad for hours. 

As I mentioned above I was very lucky that I had two parents who played with me often. They also let me take charge in the play, using my imagination, making up scenarios or choosing my interests to learn about, construct or create. My mother is very artistic so she indulged this part of who I am today while my father is a big kid himself he would often role play or construct things with or for me. One time he made an entire table top play area for my doll homes (Precious Moments) it took him forever and I quickly changed my mind about things. I will never forget how great it was and how much effort he put in just for me!

I think play is very different today because of the amount of screen time children are exposed to. While outside on recess duty, I often notice that some of my kindergarteners haven’t learned to occupy themselves and play outside because no one has shown them how. It is evident that a lot of children do not spend enough time outside. Gadgets, and electronics are great but their use needs to be limited. Children are missing out on social interaction with their peers and are also at risk for health concerns because they are not getting enough daily exercise. They are not learning how to cooperate or play with other children which is a skill that they need even as adults. I hope that parents realize how essential play is not only for their physical health but their social interaction as well.
While playing I learned how to use my imagination, how to bring something from beginning to end (playing out a scenario, creating a plan etc.) and how to co-operate and work with others. I also learned how to take my turn but also affirm my feelings and emotions. As a child I was often taken advantage of because I didn’t speak up for myself, I learned quickly ways to state my needs and wants in a way that was positive to the group. Children can discover who they are and who they want to be during play. These lessons take children well into adulthood.