Monday, August 24, 2009

We're Bringing The Fun

Yesterday I went over some materials for my program with a friend of mine who is a Kindergarten teacher. I often bounce ideas off of her when I feel a bit stuck over a concept or I’m not sure if a specific technique is going to work. We were discussing picture-walking, a practice in which children build a story based on a series of pictures. I have been thinking of employing this technique for the 3-4 year olds of Nurturing Narratives but yesterday I turned to her and said, “yea, I like picture-walking but I want this to be fun! That’s the whole purpose of my program, fun!” She laughed. “It IS fun,” she said, “everything is at that age. It’s all about fun.”

I considered this for a moment. Walk into any kindergarten classroom in this day and age and you are bound to be met with a great deal of noise. Chatter, make-believe, the sounds of read-aloud. You think it’s friendly chaos, I certainly did the first time I went to visit. The truth is, though, it’s fun, and incredibly intentioned. It’s creative. It’s expressive. It’s a place to encourage dialogue and exploration. It's a place for adventure.

I forget sometimes that the things I deem “fun” or, conversely, “required and dull” sometimes only fall into those categories because I put them there to begin with. If no one had told me cleaning was a chore, would I consider it to be one? At some point we decide that reading and writing are “required” and therefore, we no longer want to do them. Which is exactly what literacy programs are trying to avoid today. The switch from reading and writing being fun and explorative to mundane and required.

It’s all in the way we approach it. If I think picture- walking isn’t fun enough for a birthday party, it won’t be. One thing I think we can all agree on is that children learn by example. They model our behavior and pick up on our tone, the way we react to things and to what we give meaning. If I come in thinking, “well, this is educational but by gee wiz is it dull,” chances are they are going to think the same. But, if I come in thinking, “this is the coolest activity and I cannot wait to share it with these children,” I set our time together up to be fun.

The definition of success in the early years, for me, is joy. Period. Do these children love what they are doing? Sometimes we don’t build a story sequentially or the drawings might be mismatched or we might get off course but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are sparking something inside these children. Igniting some fire for literature that we can nurture and fuel for years to come.

That, to me, is fun.

1 comment:

  1. So true! My mom had my best friend, her little sister, and I convinced that washing dishes was the coolest thing in the world when we were kids. We used to beg our moms to let us clean up after dinner!