Lesson Learned: Little Tykes and Ice

My daughter is a lead teacher at a day care. She is responsible for the little tykes – ages nine months to about 18 months. The other day she sent us one of the weekly emails that the parents get each Friday. She tells them what her classroom did for the week and what to expect for the next week. The theme for last week in her classroom was Summer Fun and Summer Safety. Here is an example of what they did for Wednesday:

We began our day by making a collage of bandages and explained how they are used when you get hurt and want to protect that area. During the day we focused on our creative expressions. We used different materials and toys around the room to paint with water. We stirred sand into paint to add texture and then we painted beach scenes with it using ice cubes. We ended our day by reading a book about fire safety.

My daughter builds her curriculum based on different themes. Her next theme is Nature Escapes, hoppers, buzzers, and more. Even infants at her center have planned activities for the day. For some readers, if you have children in daycare, you may know or expect this from your center. Me – I’m floored. Little tykes? Infants?

I’m pretty darn sure that my mom wasn’t thinking about language and emerging literacy skills, mathematics and science exploration, or physical health and development when I was a little tyke. As a child, my daycare was a field. One summer, my friend Nancy and I made a fort out of rolled-up wire stuffed with hay and called it Beartrof. We played in that fort for hours. I knew when to go home for lunch and when to go home for dinner (that had to be instinct or my stomach growled like clockwork because we didn’t have watches or phones.)

Which way is better? To let your kids develop an imagination and play on their own or have structured days, to learn while playing? I turned out okay….but could I have turned out better? Smarter?  One thing that I do know, as a child, I would have loved being in my daughter’s class. I never painted with an ice cube before. How creative is that? 🙂

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