Trust the Process…

Process based art and child led activities are a big interest of mine, I enjoy observing children’s creative processes as it tends to tell me a hell of a lot more than anything I plan for or control. So I’m steering away from the product based art and craft activities along with adult led play and learning activities in favour of experiences that invite children to have a voice and a  choice when it comes to play and creativity. How this will look will no doubt evolve and change over time and sometimes my adult input may be visible but the main aim is for the child to lead the way and for me to shut up a little more and just observe. I’m not lying, this is going to be hard!

Last week I decided to see what would happen when I placed some carefully selected craft items in front of the kids. In the past I would have selected these items with a final goal or product in mind and because of this the activity became highly adult driven. What I often found was the kids became bored, frustrated and annoyed that I was telling them what to do. So this time,although I still chose the items with a goal in my head I didn’t make it apparent to the kids.

I selected a range of green and yellow crafty pieces along with some egg carton pieces and imagined cute little turtles. Imagine how cute they would be!? So cute. BUT I kept my mouth shut, placed these items in front of the kids and watched (along with taking a million videos and photos!).


The  only time I spoke was to tell Master 1 not to paint his sister because she didn’t like it, as well as asking the odd question to encourage creative thinking and problem solving…

“How could you attach that?”

“What might that piece become?”

“What will you do next?”

In my mind I knew what I wanted those pom poms to be along with the best way to attach the pipe cleaners but it wasn’t for me to dictate or control!

It was interesting to note that initially Miss 4 wanted to make a turtle (hurrah!) but as she began to give the turtle hair (um… turtles don’t have hair, but okay!) by adding a pom pom she changed her mind and decided it looked more like an alien and as her approach changed she became incredibly excited by what she was making. Master 1 was just pleased to be making a mess but as I watched him a little closer I noticed how he was figuring out ways to keep the sequins on the carton as well as practising his fine motor skills by pulling off pieces of Blu(green?!)tack and rolling them into balls before flinging them on the ground. Imagine if I tried to take over!? I would have been met with tears, tantrums and paint in my hair…


Messy fun!

Placing our trust in children tells them that we value and respect their opinions and ideas and I really believe that this allows them to become more empowered, engaged and motivated learners. By continually dictating the ‘best’ way tells them that without our help they’re likely to fail and it’s this adult driven approach that may result in children becoming dependent, frustrated and worried individuals. So I think the big lesson here is that sometimes we just need to sit back a little more and trust that our little ones know what they’re doing (most of the time! Master 1 defintely shouldn’t eat the paint!) and as hard as it can be it’s often worth it for their response and the final result!

Little Alien (so much better than my cute turtle idea!)

I’m really pleased with this little experiment of mine. Not only did my preschooler come up with a rad little alien that is way cooler than any turtle I could make but it allowed me to really see what my children can do. If I continually held the paintbrush, stuck on the eyes and said things like “No…” and “You need to…” I wouldn’t have observed some amazing little successes that they figured out all on their own and now we have some truly lovely little green art pieces that proudly sit in our kitchen!

What do you think of Process based and child led activities?

Dear Square Peg

Dear Square Peg,

You never did fit into that round hole did you?
You sat (possibly wriggled!) in your spot and were made to feel like you were doing something wrong, when all you were really doing was being you.

Because… You’re a square.

You aren’t obnoxious, you’re just confident.
You aren’t vague, you’re just a dreamer.
You’re not odd, you just think a little differently.
You don’t have ADHD, you just need to move… All. The. Time.
You’re not difficult, you just like to manipulate (and possibly throw!) things to figure out how they work.

Because…
You’re a square.

You’re told over and over again that…
YOU need to sit still.
YOU need to calm down.
YOU are causing trouble.
YOU are being a nuisance.
YOU need to change.
YOU need to be… round.

But…
You’re a square.

You try. You really do, but it just doesn’t feel right.
It’s not you.
No matter how many times you turn yourself around you just don’t seem to fit.
It can be hard to fit into a world that…
Compares you.
Labels you.
Tests you…
Over and over again.
It feels like the world wants to make you round.

But…
You’re a square.

You tell yourself to be more round. Surely you can.
But, apparently…
You’re NOT quick enough.
You’re NOT smart enough.
You’re NOT successful enough.
You’re NOT motivated enough.
You’re NOT round enough.

Because…
You’re a square.

You have wonderful round friends.
They seem to make it in this world.
They fit.
They sit quietly.
They absorb information with ease.
They answer questions with enthusiasm and clarity.
They are the epitome of success.
They are beautifully round…

But…
You’re just a square.

Everyone wishes you were just a little more like them.
Things would be a whole lot easier if you were just like them.
Everything would be done the way it was ‘meant’ to be done if you were just like them.
Things would go to plan if you were… Just. Like. Them.
Just be like them.

But…
You’re a square.

And you know what?
That’s exactly who you should be.

So…
Be confident.
Dream.
Think differently.
Move! All. The. Time.
Be hands on.
Continue being you.

You may not always fit but you belong.

From,
Someone who gets you. x

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Purpose and Joy

2016 was a big year. The birth of our third child and the death of my beloved grandfather. Events such as these remind us how precious life is and it made me think about all the stress in my life, all the negativity, all the things that don’t bring me joy or serve a purpose. What am I doing? Don’t get me wrong, I have a great life, filled with laughter, warmth and excitement but there was something that needed to change. Enter minimalism.

Last year I began the tedious (and rewarding!) task of eliminating all the ‘things’ in my life that didn’t bring joy or serve a purpose. What a feeling! As I removed the clutter, sifted through the memories and re-evaluated what was important to me and my family, it opened a whole new outlook on life and what I want for my family and myself. I am obsessed with reading, listening to and following all that The Minimalists have to offer. Their outlook and way of life has certainly struck a chord with me and I’m enjoying the changes I’ve made and will continue to make in the future.

So, minimalism and education. This has been a relatively new thought and I think I’m going to enjoy exploring what this may look like in the coming weeks, months and years. Before I went on maternity leave last year I worked full time. At the end of 2015 I felt exhausted. Yes, I was pregnant and running after a toddler, along with racing my 10 year old from here to there, but even so, I really didn’t think my job should make me feel that way. I was burnt out, I was stressed, I was anxious and suffered from a number of panic attacks. I hated going to work. It really shouldn’t feel that way. It made me question my job. Should I teach? Do I really want this? Does it bring me joy? The idea of leaving teaching scared me and made me sad so I knew it wasn’t the job as such, it was the way I went about it all. I don’t want to stop teaching but I also don’t want to feel like this.

So, only a few weeks ago, as I began to shift my brain into entering the workforce again, I started to think about the minimalist classroom and how this would work. Would it work? What would my lessons look like? How would I set out my classroom? What sort of teacher does that make me? It isn’t about trying to get out of work, if anything it may require more thought, but then perhaps there will be more purpose to it all. Purposeful teaching and learning is so important.

This shift in thinking isn’t all about me as a teacher but it’s also about my students. If I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed what the hell are my kids (students) feeling? When they walk into a brightly decorated room full of colour and information and then BANG! I say “Okay, let’s start focusing on this, this and this…” are they freaking out? How can I create a warm, inviting and calm space that welcomes differences, supports learning and embraces the simplicity of life? So many questions… but one thing I do know is that we tend to over complicate things and I want to get back to basics.

I hope if anyone out there does follow this blog, that they might suggest or enter into a discussion with me about this idea as I have no idea where it will take me! I’m keen to know what other teachers have done and how it might work. I think this year will be interesting.

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