Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Boss of the Paints"

I can't turn a corner without someone talking to me about "intentional teaching". 

Watercolor paints have the potential to be a medium that children can use to create beautiful artwork.  But how many times have we seen children rolling a dry brush around on a dry circle of paint in a watercolor set?  Deb Curtis and Margie Carter, in their book Learning Together with Young Children, highlight what it means to be the "boss of the paints". 

Curtis and Carter give us permission to teach, coach, guide (you choose the word that works best for you!) and bridge the gap between exploration and mastery of a skill. Responsive Classroom folks call it Guided Discovery. Break it down.
     1. Dip brushes into water 
     2. Put wet brush on a cake of dry paint 
     3. Count to 5 to soften the paint
     4. Move brush to paper and paint
Children experience the satisfaction of seeing rich, deep color appear. The demonstration of "counting to 5" is the key here. Eventually the brush dries - now we have some knowledge about the relationship between the water and these paints - back to the water. Rinse and start with a new color. 


Healey Head Start PreK
Small intentional teaching moments lead to children's independence, confidence, sustained attention, and self-regulation.  I have seen many examples of teachers taking the time to demonstrate these foundational "lessons" in these first weeks of school.  Walking carefully, carrying chairs, sitting at the rug - think about what else you need to break down for children so they can experience success and be the "boss of the paints".

At home, young children benefit from helping with specific tasks such as unpacking groceries, sorting laundry, food preparation - but they also need coaching here.  Specific, clear direction leads to success and confidence. At home they can be the boss of the shoes, boss of tooth brushing, boss of their toys, and the boss of getting dressed.