In a recent article I wrote about “The Question”, a prompt I utilize to initiate a conversation with parents who participate in our program. A question that parents often ask our educators is, “Tell us about your program?” The question that follows immediately, “What curriculum is taught in the program?”
The answer to the question is simple in theory, but complicated in action. The simple answer is the program guides social skills. Our school offers a play based aftercare program, where children choose their own work and choose how to utilize their time. The teachers act as observers and coaches, and assist the children when necessary. In action, educating follows a complex system that requires effort and planning to execute while supporting children to guide their own work.
The common thought about aftercare is the educators play with children and keep the children entertained. The children color, make arts and crafts, compete in board games, play sports and practice homework. All of these activities could materialize, but it depends on the children and the choices each child makes for their work each day.
A University of Chicago article featured in my opinion what educators teach. The article titled, “Foundations of Young Adult Success” shares components for success in young people. The article cites three key components; the components include Agency, Integrated Identity, and Competence.
The article describes Agency as, “the ability to make choices about and take an active role in ones life path rather than solely being the product of ones circumstances”. Integrated Identity represents, “a sense of internal consistency of who children are across time and across multiple social identities”. While Competency embodies, “abilities that enable people to effectively perform roles, complete complex tasks, and achieve specific objectives”.
The child directed method practiced at our school features play. In our school, play is learning how to utilize tools for your work, experiencing time to imagine, reading a good book, and experiencing time to explore our wonderings. Play includes, learning about the possibilities of materials, escaping outside with friends, playing a group game, talking and learning how to make friends. These examples represent the short list of what happens each day. The program proceeds at the pace of the children and is a process directed by the children.
The children represent their own best teacher. The children require our assistance, but exist in a state of living naturally open and curious to exploring and learning. What children learn from adults who are teaching less and assisting more embodies, self regulation, new knowledge and skills, adopting a growth mindset, and learning about their own values.
To answer the question, the educator scaffolds, as the children require assistance. The educator assists and supports children who are teaching each other. The educator prepares the environment and is available to experience together the creativity and wonder all children arrive into the world with. Educators are keeping the fire going, a fire that started long ago.
What is the role of the educator in your program?