Monday, August 27, 2012

Bringing ELECT into our parent/child workshops

We know it's not enough for us, as educators, to understand how the activities and programs we plan and implement relate to ELECT. We need to continue to communicate that information to parents and caregivers. This helps establish a common language that parents will not only encounter and use here at the OEYC Ottawa South but also in early learning and care centres and finally, school.

This August, I facilitated a "Pet Rocks" workshop. Sounds cute? Though it might be "cute", that was not my goal.

I wanted to plan and facilitate a parent/child workshop which would appeal to the older age group we serve (4 to 6 year olds). I wanted to build on their natural inclination towards pretend play (which is well outlined in the 5th principle – Play is a means to early learning that capitalizes on children's natural curiosity and exuberance). I have also observed over the course of my early childhood education career that most children love to find and collect rocks (again touching on their natural curiosity).


Our Pet Rocks workshop began with the reading of the book: Everybody needs a rock. The reading of the book provoked great questions and comments from the children. Afterwards, children were able to create their very own pet rock using a wide variety of materials provided to them. I encouraged children to think about how they wanted their special rock to look, what kind of personality and life their rock would have since they would be becoming authors and writing their very own storybook about their new pet. With this encouragement and without a model, each rock ended up being as unique and special as the child who created it.


Once they judged that their rock was complete, they moved on to writing (or dictating – depending on their age and stage of development) and illustrating their storybook. I had provided a very basic template which prompted children to name their rock, write about where it lived, what it liked and did not like, etc. Children were so very proud to read their storybooks to me and to their parents.

During the entire 1 ½ hours, there was plenty of conversation between the children and the parents, which is always one of the best parts of a parent/child workshop!

To reinforce all the great learning through play which had occurred, parents took home a handout which outlined the skills practiced during the workshop.

Here is the information contained in the handout:

This information has been pulled from the Early Learning for Every Child Today framework for Ontario early childhood settings. The framework describes how young children learn and develop and it is used in a variety of early childhood settings, such as child care centres, Ontario Early Years Centre, nursery schools and kindergarten programs.

Whether your child is participating in one of our playgroups, borrowing toys and/or books or participating in a workshop, the Ontario Early Years Centre Ottawa South strives to provide experiences and materials which help build on your child's skills and help them achieve their full potential.

How has this workshop supported and promoted your child's learning and development?

By creating their Pet Rock using the materials provided; by writing (or dictating), illustrating and presenting their storybook; your child has been able to build on skills in the five different domains of development.

Having the opportunity to
  • interact positively and respectfully in a peer group
  • co-operate by listening, thinking and responding appropriately as others speak during group time
  • empathize by sharing experiences and relating to others
  • interact with adults

Having the opportunity to
  • recognize and express emotions (writing and drawing what their "rock" likes and doesn't like)
  • develop and demonstrate positive attitudes towards learning by persevering when faced with new tasks and expressing satisfaction and joy when accomplishing them
  • develop their self-esteem by showing pride in their work
  • discuss the notions of self-concept by talking about the characteristics of their "rock"

Communication, language and literacy
Having the opportunity to
  • converse with peers and adults
  • use descriptive language to explain, explore and extend
  • expand their vocabulary
  • listen to others
  • enjoy literacy, reading and writing
  • use and understand the power of literacy by creating and dictating stories
  • understand the orientation of familiar conventions of print by writing their own books

Having the opportunity to
  • represent ideas (using art and tools to express ideas, feelings and experiences and to create)
  • work on problem solving (planning, working through obstacles)

Having the opportunity to
  • use their fine motor skills (using tools and drawing)

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