Thursday, December 23, 2021


 I've been observing toddler play for a lifetime but in the last year, spending one on one time with my grandson and watching him integrate into a toddler classroom has turned my attention to a new concept, crowding and how it affects learning.

We all know that children scaffold learning, think through problems, question, challenge themselves and push boundaries. Just as we know that social contexts can support these skills. However they can also hinder them.

Toddlers by nature want what other children have. The age of mine.

They flock around other children who have what they want and this is where the problem of crowding begins.

When I work one on one with my grandson, the development of his skills are observable as he challenges himself in his play.

When he entered the toddler classroom the playing field changed. His work is often interrupted as children topple his structures, step on his ramps, or try to grab his toys. This is not conducive to constructing knowledge.

The challenge here lies in how to mitigate crowding, yet still encourage social play.

The key rests in the role of the teacher, as she must be on point in creating an environment that allows for rich experiences that keep children engaged in small clusters and supports individual work. 

Working alone is not taboo. In fact, it is important to allow children to negotiate learning on their own as well as with peers.

There is a time and place for it all.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Mateo and Nonna


Mateo and Nonna

Many of you have asked where I've been for the last while as I've been absent from this blog and my life at Reggio Kids. I've taken a short break from my career.

For the past 5 months, I’ve been on a leave of absence from my adult life spending the better part of my days with my toddler grandson. There’s a lot to be said about giving yourself over to the life of a child. Without the distraction of phone calls, social media, a hectic work schedule or television, I’ve delved into the world of this extraordinary toddler with his exuberance and unrivaled joy for meeting each day and the wonders it offers.

Our days together....

Every morning I find him waiting for me in his crib with his ever present infectious smile. We are in no particular hurry to go anywhere, so I allow him the time to get ready for his day on his terms. He may choose to bounce around in the crib, or have a bottle of milk as he surrounds himself with his binkies and pillows. He likes to have many of his favorite snuggle toys. Many being the word he uses for more than one.

When he’s ready he asks to come up and then he romps around his room or we play timber which entails falling to the ground and rolling around with our legs in the air. He learned that word when he fell off his riding toy and I said, “timber.” Now anytime he topples, its timber!

In lieu of a few rounds of timber, he may decide to hide in his closet or in a pile of pillows and blankets.

Eventually he allows me change his diaper and dress him and we make our way to the kitchen for breakfast. At times we pack it up and eat it on route to the park or in the backyard or porch where we begin our day of adventure. He has little patience to sit in his high chair for 15 minutes to consume his feast.

Where we spend our day depends on the weather, too hot means under the deck with water play, sand, collecting rocks from the yard or riding toys down the hill of grass. Mild means the park where we chase the geese, play on the equipment, dig in the dirt, or run up and down the hills. We make time every day to go down to his fully equipped play room.

I’ve watched him kiss trees, follow tiny ants, run across a field, attempt to play basketball with the big, big net, kick soccer balls, chase the geese while screaming, "ducky, ducky, ducky", gaze into the pond as the geese swim or fly in, all in the span of a few hours or less. Not to mention swing, slide and dig in the dirt.

He likes to go high, high on the swing. When he gains height or its windy, I ask him to catch the wind. He stretches his arms out and throws his head back, “windy” he says. When the sun hits his eyes, he says, “too sunny”.

I’ve forgotten what it means to be an adult as I spend the day through his eyes, stomping, going down the slide, sitting on riding toys as we race across the room, running, chasing and laughing abundantly.

Every new discovery is a wonder.

He has no fear, no inhibitions, and no expectations. He simply lives to unravel the mysteries of the day.

I have no agenda and he knows I am present in his world, every ready to tackle whatever the day brings. The concept of tired does not exist as I devote myself to being his partner in crime.

Five months is a lifetime in terms of change on all levels.

His language has increased exponentially. Words come at a rapid pace.

He is stable on his feet and can ride his bikey or vespa like a pro. I run alongside him as he scoots along. I watch him for behind as his body rocks the vespa, his little behind swaying back and forth. The movement of the wind through his hair is a clear indication of his speed. The bumpier the path, the happier he is. “Big bumps,” he says as he pushes his vespa onto grassy mounds. When he catches an incline he raises his leg so he can coast along. He’s come to understand that he has to wait at the end of his driveway so I can check for oncoming cars before he can cross. When I say, “okay,” he repeats the word and off we go.

He waves hello and goodbye to people while saying the words and occasionally adds a, “see you.”

He discovered a wind mill on a neighbor’s property in early spring and he loves to watch it spin. Now as he scoots along, he always remembers to make a pit stop to see the windmill, a word he says quite clearly. He has a clear view of it from his change table his bedroom.

In early May, his parents had some work done on the outside of the house. I stood him on the window ledge as a small bulldozer dug up dirt. I called it a dig dig. A term that stuck with him which he now associates with all large construction vehicles. Whenever we go out, he looks for dig digs.

The sound of his little voice as he calls out to me to join in his antic, “Nonna!”, meaning nonna do it, nonna go faster, nonna get moving, always makes me laugh.

He has an amazing sense of humour, often teasing me with a possible bite of something he’s eating or a suggestion to hop onto one of his ride along toys, only to quickly consume the food himself or hop onto the toy before I get there. I sing the eetsy bitsy spider with a big voice or a teeny tiny voice and he makes me change voices many times in the same breath. He changes his voice big or tiny to indicate which one I should use.

He is forever hiding around corners, under blankets, in his tent. Finding him brings huge peals of laughter.

He loves ice cream and choco. Treats which I give him sparingly and he’d love as his main meals. He says, “choco” and I say, “broccoli” and so the game begins of yelling, “choco” as I say, “pasta” and on and on we go with peals of laughter in between.

These are a few of our favorite things!

We’ve now come to a new path in our relationship as he integrates into life at daycare. The foot prints of the memories we created over the last five months will remain with me forever. Mateo will have no memory of them but I can only hope, that the love and devotion will last a lifetime.

Tomorrow is a new day for Mateo and Nonna!







Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Child's Perspective

 We read much about child development,  milestones, what children think, what they should know and on and on it goes. Mommy blogs, advice blogs, professional blogs, INSTAGRAM fill the universe with endless how to, don't do, should do.

Here's my two cents on the infoverse. I write this without prejudice or judgement!

When I look for information I'm likely to turn to the sources that inform from well lived experiences. My thinking is how can we teach other's to be teachers if we've never been in a classroom? How can we guide other parents if we've never reared a child. I've raised three children and what I thought I knew, and trust me I thought I knew alot about children, given my education and line of work, in reflection could have been much better. NOTHING arms us better than experience. If I could go back and raise my children again, knowing what I know at 60, I wonder at the mother I would have been!  Not to say that they are not remarkable adults :)

Having said this, here is my thinking for today that can be added to the infoverse!

Children truly are a marvel and no other time in a human life is as remarkable as childhood.

They live with abandonment. From the minute they wake up in the morning to the time they go to bed at  night, they seek, explore, experience and marvel!

They are not scarred by the pounding of life's daily struggles, hurts and disappointments.

Children are fearless! They leap into the day not concerned with outcome. They don't plan their day based on a perceived outcome. They live in the moment.

The wonder of being becomes fragmented and jaded when children engage with soured teachers, unfit parents, malicious peers. Over time LIFE beats them down and the flame begins to fade to embers. Hopefully the embers do not burn out.

Everyone grows up, we have no choice. Time is an unyielding master and he pushes us forward.

So, what can we do to ensure that the we leave our students and our own children with the potential they are born with?

We cannot pound children with expectations. Read faster, count quicker, play sports, toilet train at 12 months, paint like Picasso, write like Shakespeare. Care to educate yourself so you understand the stages of development they are in and know that each child moves at their own pace. No need to rush. They will all learn to read and write. Children are not trophies and do not need to be showcased to validate our existence.

Acknowledge that a child may have struggles. No need to pave the path with fairy dust. Life is not perfect. Their journey will not be perfect. Struggles define character and teach children to solve problems.

Give your child the gift of limits. Everyone needs boundaries! Set them early in life so they do not devlop of sense of entitlement. It's okay to say no when it is required. Simple expectations such as tidy your toys, eat meals at the table, don't colour on furniture go a long way to helping children accept when expectations become greater. 

Listen, listen, listen!

Create a culture of sharing daily experiences in your class and home. Each child has a voice. Put down you PHONES, stop rushing and care to know about your child's day. Even an infant, by gauing their mood, can express themselves. Stop putting your children to bed at 6 p.m! They nap at school so why are you rushing them off to sleep. Go for a walk, play, extend bath time, throw a ball. These days will  never come again. Your own need for quiet time at the end of the day is not a priority anymore. There will be plenty of time for quiet later on and then you will seek the noise!

No single material possession that you give a child is greater than your time.

Read books. The act of sharing a story is in itself a time for bonding.

Connect children to the nature. No toy or loose part can replace or provide more value than a walk through the woods! 

Cooping a child indoors while you widdle the hours away on your phone and glance at them once in awhile is a pathetic way to be with your child. Lift your eyes, one day very soon that child will be walking out the door on their own and you will wonder where time has gone and the regrets will begin to fill your heart. You can NEVER go back. 

You can fail at many things in your life. Failing as a parent or teacher leaves lasting ripples and the direction of those ripples cannot be changed once they are set in motion.

Monday, January 11, 2021

One Million Reasons to say Thank You!

 When I began this blog 10 years ago, I never expected to see so much response to our work!

Although I may author these posts, I am only a small partipant in the journey of learning that is shared  with our children and teachers.

 Everyday is an adventure, whether we observe a baby's first encounter with paint or travel the adventurous road of a long term project with our JK-Sk class.

Time is a fickle master, so tomorrow is uncertain.  However, for as long as we can, we will continue to meet you here, in these posts with our children and teachers, always grateful for your support.

One million strong and counting!

Friday, January 8, 2021

In the Spirit of Collaboration

The word collaboration, when combined with educational perspectives, is tossed around more than a ball in all children's and sports games combined.

The question is how much do we truly practice and believe in it. 

My thinking is that to be truly collaborative, whether it is within our own context, or with others outside of our workplace, there must be the absence of ego. This is where it gets complicated, complex and sometimes down right nasty!

Many, in the pursuit of their own fame and glory and their need to leave a mark in the world, knowingly exclude, omit, hide and avoid including notables in their field of work in order to keep their own position as top dog.

I've met only a few people who have little need to be placed upon a pedestal because they are leaders in their fields. A true leader seeks to shed light on all those who are part of a journey of learning. No one person invented the wheel. As children scaffold their learning, so to do adults whose research and work is based on the ones who came before them.

Children are the greatest example of what it means to be truly collaborative. They work in unison, learning with and from one another. There is no ego, no need to stomp on others to get to the front of the line.

The true collaborator stands back and allows the team that surrounds him/her to shine brightly.

The footprint we leave behind, similar to the footprint made in the soft ocean sand, will be forgotten when the wave rushes in to wash it away.

What we will endure is what we brought to the light through our work with and in unison with others.

There is no me in we my friends!

Many years ago this group of preschoolers collaborated to make this fallen tree trunk function as a teeter totter. (This is in one of my earlier posts)
Imagine what could be accomplished if we all worked in unison, without ego, for the betterment of our world!