In reflecting about class growth and learning, we often notice that there is one distinct commonality: the many ways in which we see children expressing themselves.
We see self expression taking on various forms. From the more obvious examples of verbal communication and body language (or gestures), to the more abstract examples of non-verbal communication. We see and hear the children learning and sharing throughout every day. As adults, it is up to us to listen to the children (whether that be with our ears or eyes) and decipher what we are learning about them. What are the children telling us?
Children show us ways in which they are exploring their new surroundings. Here, the silent movements and explorations send a message of comfort, affirmation and appreciation.
We regularly see the children using their body language to display joy and interest in one another.
A Hidden Moment.
A student finds a cozy spot under the loft where he can play with his animals. His actions express not only his desire for quiet, individual exploration, but also his tender and empathetic emotions.
Art as a Facilitator.
One student dances to familiar music, while another chooses to draw his family. Both experiences allow us to see the children displaying comfort and joy.
Naturally, as children learn to collaborate, there will be moments of discontent. Body language has served as a great communicative tool for our children in these instances. In a matter of seconds, the children work through understanding what facial expressions mean, and then begin to negotiate how to resolve conflict so that both are content with the decision.
In one instance, we observe two children wanting to use the felt board at the same time. In addition to these body gestures, they also practice saying:
Student 1: Hey, I’m playing with that.
Student 2: Well, can I watch?
Student 1: Yeah.
Celebrating a Job Well Done!
In the absence of a child created story, the children often communicate with us through the pride that is observed on their faces.
Display of Strength.
Exploring with materials that allow children to test their abilities, allows them to embrace and celebrate their power!
We regularly see the children sharing creative stories through various mediums. Both with an intention in mind, and free form, the children are eager to explain the story of what they have created.
A moment of simple conversation about child created drawings reveals to us many things. We see the children becoming comfortable with one another, offering insights, and even appreciating the help.
Student 1: I like your drawing.
Student 2: This is my car.
Student 1: Where is the door?
Student 2: Oh, I can add it right here.
The Conversational Dance.
Learning the skills of listening and having a conversation is no easy task. The children work hard to slow their minds and bodies so that they are able to listen, and then are often excited to share their connections and thoughts. Waiting, listening, and processing, these and many more skills are acquired when practicing the developmental task of participating in a conversation.
Wonder and Discovery.
Children sharing thoughts and desires shows us that they have a strong will to never stop learning!
One student excitedly requests: “Can I do the number today?”
During free choice time, another student states: “Look what I noticed! I can see through this rock!”
The Art of Collaboration.
While engaging in block play, children are exploring how to plan, converse, and negotiate with one another. Often their thoughts may conflict, so we see their persistence and listening skills being tested and strengthened.
Student 1: What are you doing?
Student 2: We’re building a castle for the cars. But we have to have the big blocks on the bottom, and the small blocks on top so it’s more shaped like a castle.
This documentation was written by Staci Hefty and Mickey Willis.
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