Monday, February 9, 2015

More Snow! Executive Function Part 3 - Transferring Responsibility to Children

Here we are again. Deciding if the timing is right to shovel the car out yet again. So here are More Snow Day Ideas. Also tune into our own Mayor Joe Curtatone's message about shoveling and community spirit. Snowfall is a good time to teach our children lessons about helping others and keeping our community safe. A good time to practice caring. Give young children small scoops or shovels from your beach stuff, bundle them up, and let them try it out.  

Don't forget to enter  your email in the box on the right to subscribe.

And if you do get a moment, here is bit more thinking about executive function and helping children internalize good work habits.

I once was fortunate to hear Elena Bedrova and Deborah Leong speak about their work when they were developing their Tools of the Mind curriculum. Their work is based on the theories of Lev Vygostky, a Russian scholar who lived in the early 20th century.  His theories are largely based on the idea that learning occurs through our relationships with others, and that socialization and play are key areas for young children's learning and the development of self-regulation (See Boss of the PaintsExecutive Function Part 1, and Executive Function Part 2). Bedrova and Leong pointed out that often we mistake compliance for self-regulation.  We all want good behavior from children, but sometimes what we see is really teacher or parental regulation, not self-regulation.

Cover of necklace workplan, decorated by child. See centers in
background with materials ready to go.
I  worked with a student teacher last year who wanted to avoid children waiting for adult signals to move from one math center to the next. Some children finished sooner than others leading to behavior issues for those who waited with nothing to do. Some children needed more time to complete work, leading to frustration.  She developed a math menu where children wore necklaces with the activities on them and checked off what they had done as they moved.  There were also always activities that children could go to if they had finished everything and these activities reinforced concepts teachers wanted to solidify. 

      All children have the same list but complete at own pace. Teachers

      can add activities to individualize. Children color in shape when an 
      activity is complete.  Teachers check daily to see how children are 

"Workjobs or Workplans" is not a new concept as this 1972 publication Workjobs illustrates.  Check out the photos in this classroom.  Looks fun! Such approaches individualize & differentiate instruction and allow children freedom of movement and self-pacing. Small notebooks, clipboards with checklists, etc. help children keep track. Everyone is working at their own pace, on content that is right for them, and teachers are freed up to move in and out of groups to help where needed.  

  • Activities need to be well demonstrated at meeting time to ensure children know what to do.
  • Repeating activities over a few weeks builds expertise. 
  • Having activities that need no demonstration give children something engaging to do without adult direction. 

This is what self-regulation looks like and this is different from the compliance behaviors we see when all children are working in a workbook at the same time for the same amount of time.  This strategy is also good for chores and homework in your home.  Think about where and how you do your best learning.  Your children need the same thing.