Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pipiana's kindness to Nana - A Learning Story

Pipiana Discovers Eyelashes
Pipiana your favorite book at the moment is Puff the Magic Dragon. I have read it to you lots of times. Your book comes with a CD and though you are quite capable of playing the CD for yourself you would much rather have my company, the comfort of my body and the slight off key-ness of my singing.You are very complimentary to your Nana. I love to cuddle up to you when we share books too.

As I read the Puff book you kept pointing to Puff’s eyes. I noticed your fascination as you found and stroked his eyes on every page. I said “Here, Nana’s eye too” and I stroked my eye. You pointed to your eye and said ‘eye’. I held your little finger and brushed it on my eyelashes. You laughed. It tickled both of us and we giggled again. I brushed your eyelashes very gently and then you stroked your own. Then we had some 'butterfly kisses' - the ones where we flutter our eyelashes together. We tickled each other with our eyelashes. Squirmy, wriggly and wormy up close eyelash to eyelash - Haha! such eyelash fun.
What a discovery - eyelashes. You went back to look at Puff and in your own questioning way looked for Puff’s eyelashes.
Does Puff have eyelashes? Do dragons have eyelashes ? We looked and looked - you ran your finger over the illustration and studied his eyes very closely. To my amazement you decided there were some eyelashes on Puff. They were the ever so feint strokes of the illustrator's pen that your imagination made in to eyelashes. You smiled up at me with the satisfaction of your discovery and your question answered - Yes! Puff has eyelashes.
That quick little finger then came back to my eyes, searching out my eyelashes again. When your pointed finger missed my eyelashes and made contact with my eyeball I flinched and drew back from your finger. Quick as a wink that finger found your own eye and with a feigned poke - you flinched and looked back with a sad look on your face too. Mirroring my emotion and the sadness my face you reached to my face and stroked it ever so softly. Smiling at each other we both felt better. I think you were saying ‘Aroha mai, Nan’. I love you my little mokopuna.

What I learnt about Pipiana; You absolutely love books and reading. It is one of your favorite things to do. You choose the exact books you want to read. You love flap books too. Maisey and Spot are other favourites. You enquire and answer your own questions.
I learnt that you are empathetic and kind. You let me know that you understood that it hurts to have your eye poked and you wanted to help me feel better. And... I did feel better, thanks to your kind strokes on my face.
Who would have believed this is possible from an 18 month old baby?

Mummy tells me still love to read about Puff and you are continuing your interest in eyes and eyelashes. You have been observing Mummy putting on her mascara and now you insist on doing some for yourself. Goodness me.

Professor Alison Gopnik in her book the Philosophical Baby says that “We used to think that babies and young children were irrational, egocentric, immediate and limited. In fact, psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered that babies not only learn more, care more and experience more than we ever could have thought possible. In some ways, young children are actually smarter, more imaginative, more caring and even more conscious that adults are”.(p.5) Also that “... love itself depends on knowledge and imagination. For babies, who are so utterly helpless and dependent, no theory is as important as the theory of love. From the time they are very small babies are figuring out these theories of love, based on what they see the caregivers around them do and say. And these theories in turn shape the way these babies will care for their own children when they grow up”. (p.247)
From Nana with Love. April 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Healing Power of Music

Recently I have read and article on ‘Raising Kind Children’ by Janet Clark, Susan Gable and Ibtisam Barakat. They talk strongly about the capacity that children are born with to act kindly and with compassion. More importantly they discuss the vital role of adults around children to model kindness and compassion if they are going to continue to act in kind and caring way. When Guy Claxton says so powerfully we must always be at our ‘learning best’, I am immediately drawn to the view that if we are to build strong, caring and compassionate communities then we must all be at our ‘compassionate’ best when we are with children ! Julie is without a doubt a teacher who so wonderfully teaches those around her about kindness and compassion. Here is a lovely learning story she has given to us to share on the ‘Kindness Blog’.

The Healing Power of Music

Ashlee loves to sing, and I discovered this very soon after her starting  with us at Stanmore Bay Kindergarten. There she was at the play dough table singing sweetly to her self “Skinny marinky” I joined her and we did a duet, we have delighted many of our visitors to the kindergarten with our Skinny marinky duet-its a very lovely welcoming song, and Ashleigh has such a sweet clear voice.
The other day Ashleigh slipped over and hurt her leg. We had a hug and then a little while after she was still a bit sad about her leg and asked me to sing it a song. “Sure!” I said and I scooped her up for a hug and sang a song to the hurt  leg. The song went something like this “Dear little leg, I’m sorry that your hurt, I hope you feel better soon, I love you little leg, I know you’ll feel better soon.”
This cheered Ashleigh up. A little later in the morning I heard the sound of crying by the slide, Kobe had found himself under a pile of friends who had tumbled down the slide together. I sat down and was giving him a hug when Ashleigh came over “He needs a song” she said “Yes, I think that would be great-can you sing a song for him?” Ashleigh sang the sweetest little song that went something like this “Dear Little Kobe, I’m sorry that your sad, dear little Kobe, you’ll feel better soon, dear little Kobe” It was so sweet, I was so sorry I didn’t have the camera or a voice recorder with me!
Since that day there has been more marvelous songs created. Ashleigh improvised a song for the dead goldfish at its funeral, and while she was drumming she created a two and a half minute long improvised song about a puffer fish going up and down-I know it was two and a half minutes because I filmed it! I can so see her in a band when she’s older! I want to be known as the person who recorded one of her first songs!!!!

What learning is happening here and how can we support it?

Ashleigh has the most wonderful spirit, she is loving and outgoing and she expresses herself fully through all she does-especially singing. I thought it was very kind of Ashleigh to empathize with Kobe’s pain and sing him a song. This isn’t the first time I have been really touched by Ashleigh’s sensitivity and kindness.
I will continue to encourage Ashleigh in her song making. I will see if she would like to make a music video of her songs, we could incorporate art and moving footage, maybe we could use garage band to add some percussion! Maybe I will call her over the next time someone hurts themselves and ask her to sing one of her special healing songs!

“Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that.” Aretha Franklin

“Music is the purest form of art... therefore true poets, they who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music... The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside.” Tagore

This learning story was written by Julie Killick is currently the Head Teacher at Stanmore Bay Kindergarten in the Northern Auckland Kindergarten Association.

What are the ways you are building a strong moral community in your early childhood setting? Are the values of kindness, caring and compassion visible in your place?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Powerful Lesson in Kindness

I recently read this very powerful little story. It made me reflect on those I have contact with and the effort I make on a daily basis to establish these relationships. This story is written by yet another wise professor making what I believe is a very significant statement that surely would of got all those students thinking about their relationships!!! It certainly made me reflect deeply on those around me. Here is the little story....
During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz.  I breezed through the questions until I read the last one:  "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"  Surely this was a joke.  I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name?  I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade.  "Absolutely," the professor said.  "In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello."  I've never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy.  ~Joann C. Jones