One challenging aspect of raising a young child is finding out when it is appropriate to put more responsibility on a child and when it is time for parents or teachers to retain control. Over the past 3 years, we have worked with two programs in our curriculum which require the children to take responsibility for their own learning. Our Daily 5 literacy program asks the children to make choices in their learning and to be responsible in these choices. We talk about ‘good fit’ books, ie one that they know they can cope with in terms of reading level and one that interests them. The teachers ask the students which task they want to engage in and the students are then engaged in the task because they have had a say in what they do. Our Natural Maths program also asks the students to take responsibility for their learning by making the tasks relevant and meaningful to them. Of course, as teachers we watch, keep data and monitor in the background, the work which is being done. This ensures that a student does not become stuck on that one activity he/she enjoys at the expense of the more general work which needs to be covered, but as a staff, we are constantly surprised at the amount of responsibility students can take on, and sometimes at quite young ages.
When listening to staff speak about these things, I remembered how much my own young children enjoyed being allowed to do a ‘grown up task’. One they particularly enjoyed was at the fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket where I would ask them to find, weigh and organise the purchases I would make. Often I would find a peach in our fruit which was a bit substandard or a potato that probably I would not have chosen but in the main, this weekly task helped them to learn many good habits – that of making healthy food choices, preparing and sticking to shopping lists and that of weighing, sorting and finding specific foods (we had much frustration finding fennel once with me just wanting to show my children, but knowing I had to stand back whilst they worked it out!). A challenge to all parents - is there something you are doing for your children from which you could step back and ask them to do? I am sure they’ll surprise you if you let go safely on some things.
Mrs Trudy Moala
Head of Campus, Early & Junior Years