That activity sheet, step by step craft, or whatever “plan” that implicitly told your kid(s) what they should be learning and how – became a weird *&$ked up mess.
If you read that and thought something like, “ you had to have been in my living room this week,” this one’s for you.
We learn in many ways. For those who have preschool children you’ve surely come across the many theories and modalities. Play-based, theme based, Montessori, child based, Waldorf, Reggio-Emelia, STEM, transitional, classical –I’m already sick of making the list.
But here is the thing- they are all useful. Right now many of us have little activities dangling over our heads, packets, full curriculum, desolate nothings, emerging ideas, failed attempts, little beautiful moments, overwhelm, total calm, total chaos. It’s just like a real life classroom and the topography of a teacher’s brain.
For all the people caring for little people during the complete uprooting of our daily, sometimes minute to minute lives- overwhelming might not be the right word. My word is way more unconventional.
Look, I know we don’t have time for this. We barely have the right kind of time to actually absorb hilarious memes right now. So I’m going to quickly exit my wordy sentiments. Or I’m going to do my very best (it’s not my strong suit).
All of these things- curriculum, lil lesson plans, creative activities, learning theory, complete structure, total boredom, chaos. We have learned in, through, and with all of this “stuff.” Arguable, but none of these philosophies or ways of teaching and learning are on a pedestal for me. The only way I can figure out which one to use is based on overtures. The only thing that truly runs through every aspect of learning is relationships. Relationship to one another, relationship to the earth, relationship to our community, our school, our friends, and of course ourselves. Right now our relationship to what is happening, what will happen, and even what the hell happened – it’s pretty wobbly. We are exploring as we go.
(Yes I know I failed at less wordy)
Our transition to “at-home” school probably needs to reflect the times we are living in. Which at our best we are simply exploring what the heck is happening and what is coming next. This path of exploration can also be apart of our children’s lives, and it’s very likely to work. How? Ok well here is where I might be able to get a little more concise.
Provocations and preparation. That is wordy but it’s precise 🤷🏻♀️
Here is how the times reflected in our home, and home schooling look-
Provocations are little areas of the home we can set up to spark play, exploration, questioning, sometimes conflict, confusion, and peace. This is where preparation comes in – and it’s not about your supply list. Just grab some things from around your house and put them together in a special space and make it look beautiful. There isn’t something your child is “supposed” to learn, and there isn’t a way they are “supposed” to learn it. It’s a beautiful, intentional space of exploring.
Here are a few examples.
1. A place at the table that has beads, play dough, a chop stick, piece of cardboard, and few fake flowers. (Just some stuff around the house). Set it out in a way that is beautiful and inviting. Then just leave it there. They find it or they don’t. What happens next? There isn’t a script.
2. A basket of sheets and balls and two flash lights. It’s not just thrown together though, you placed them together in this weird, beautiful way. What happens next? You’re not the keeper of knowledge or final results. Just like in real life. (Thanks COVID19)
3. Sidewalk chalk, stacked in a tower, in front of the fridge next to a little bowl of water along with a line you drew on the fridge with said chalk and water. What happens next? Well you gave a simple idea with the line but who knows.
Here is where preparation comes in. And if this word feels overwhelming, I mean it softly. This kind of preparation can also serve you. It’s pretty inspiring and it’s fun putting such open ended items together that usually aren’t given the time of day. And you aren’t preparing for your kid(s) to obtain a certain piece of knowledge or a very particular way of learning it.
When the kid(s) go to sleep take 20 minutes to set up different provocations for them. Some of them might be based on conversations you had that day, some might be based in their interests – like dinosaurs, rainbows, art, food, reading, sports, humor, etc.
What I’ve learned about preparation isn’t that some plan is followed, but that a powerful, peaceful energy is created, and it’s sustained for hours. It doesn’t mean we even use all of the provocations we set up, or things go how we imagined, or that the specific child we had in mind uses it. It’s an energy that also lends to deeper creativity and spontaneity and an environment to become more present.
If you’d like help setting up your first provocations, or you’re holding a thing of measuring cups, a box, and an old T-shirt, and you’re like, “ok how do I make this set up beautiful”-email me. If you have my number text me. I’d say call but if you have kids, you know I probably won’t answer.