Maria Montessori is an icon in history. She has influenced my professional philosophy particularly due to her firm belief that there exists a difference in learning among children and adults. From this vein, Montessori once said: follow the child and let the child’s interest take lead. This denotes the belief that through the stages of development the absorbent minds of children are exposed to learning experiences that are ideal thus facilitating the growth of their mind.
The healthy development of a child’s brain is heavily influenced by creative and active play. As such, teachers are required to develop and sustain a positive learning environment for children both inside and outside the classroom. The wholesome development of children is supported by the aspect of play as it involves thinking, moving, sensing, creating and communicating with others (Feeney, 2016).
Hard-Soft Environments: softness changes the environment in terms of comfort, security and the way of doing things in a context. Thus, early childhood classroom should be furnished with soft decorations, carpets, pillows, rugs, furry animals, soft toys, warm physical objects and sufficient lighting. Hard environments include colors that are unattractive, indestructible materials such as cement and insufficient lighting that denote disrespect for children.
Open-Closed environments and materials: Innovation is inspired by open materials. Closed environments have the potential of being rewarding if they provide ideal challenges. Young children generally require open materials as they are easy to use. Closed materials are suitable for children that are older and have more experience. Frustration and boredom among young children denote an inappropriate balance between open and closed experiences.
Low-High Mobility: Activity denotes high mobility while sedentary activities infer low mobility. Both kinds of activities should be encouraged throughout the day, both outdoors and indoors.
The role of teachers in facilitating play among children includes the provision of sufficient play time between 45 minutes and 1 hour of uninterrupted play several times a day. The activities can either be outdoors or indoors depending on the weather. The play materials should be sensitive to the interests and needs of children. Teachers should learn through observation and add materials to support play activities. Further, they should also participate in play but ensure that the children are the leaders. Unless there is a threat that can cause harm, play should not be interrupted. When guiding or participating in play the teacher should be child-oriented and avoid inculcating adult judgments and concepts into the play (e.g., How many are there? Was that nice?). Teachers also need to be able to redirect play (when necessary) in a way that supports the children. (Feeney, 2016)
Skilful curriculum design ensures that there are additional activities to the planned activities hence factoring space, time and interesting aspects that can be explored. Children should be provided with choices in a well-planned curriculum. The curriculum provides guided activities to engage with children individually and in groups. A planned curriculum factors all the domains of development. For example, it can be designed to help children master a skill in single or multiple subjects. In early childhood curriculum, each subject area contributes to all domains of child development but emphasizing on one or two study areas.
Some of the important aspects of supporting children’s healthy eating habits include:
Food should never be used as a reward or form of punishment. All children have a right to food and thus withholding it leads to a breach of trust.
The eating environment should be pleasant and relaxed. Meal times should not be hurried and should involve everyone taking part in the activity.
Develop appreciation of healthy food through compliments such as Yum, these crunchy carrots are delicious,. For new healthy food: We never had this for lunch before”I’m looking forward to trying it.
Children should be provided with opportunities to try unfamiliar foods. According to Eliassen (2011), young children required 10 to 15 experiences with unfamiliar food to enjoy it.
Train Children to listen to their bodies and hence know when they are full and when hungry.
When possible, children should be encouraged to opt for healthy snacks thus gain control of their eating habits.Food preparation and cooking should be entrenched in the curriculum by giving the children opportunities to wash and tear lettuce salad for example.Children should be allowed to serve themselves and if this is not possible have them offer snacks as a self-service activity to nurture competence among them.Children should be involved in meal set up and cleanup activities.Food and nutrition should be a topic of discussion with the children e.g. on how food helps in body growth or the significance of certain foods such as Milk has calcium in it. It helps your bones grow and be strong.Ensure families have access to resources for meal and food planning. Mention some of the ideal healthy snacks for children in newsletter besides share recipes that children have enjoyed preparing while at school (Feeney, 2016).
Keyser (2006) noted that the most productive programs for early childhood education are those where the unit of the family is valued by both teachers and administrators. In such cases, the staff ensures they develop relationships, make decisions and policies that treat each child as a part of a family. This practice is child-centered and focuses on developing meaningful relationships between the families and the teachers (Keyser, 2006). Family-centered programs require constant communication with each family and subsequently making decisions aligning to their preferences. Thus, the practice is intentional and significant. This practice goes beyond focusing on the child only but also the respective families involved hence the need to understand differences in cultures. Through interaction, teachers learn the different foods, holidays and environments the children are brought up in. Teachers should seek the help of families in the quest to support each child’s needs. The dialogue can begin by asking families to inform you on how birthdays and holidays are celebrated.
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