Serving meals to preschool children can be challenging. The daily schedule can easily get away from you through unexpected interruptions, spending more time than planned on an exciting activity, sick children, or some of the many accidents that occur in busy classrooms. As a result, mealtimes often get pushed to the side as just one of the daily routines necessary to get through the day.
But we should still be thoughtful to include high-quality interactions at mealtimes for many reasons. First, is that with our nation’s high obesity rates, the emphasis on nutrition and healthy choices is growing. Secondly, we know that many families are busy and mealtimes are often sacrificed at home.
Finding ways to engage children during mealtime as a relaxing and important interaction of each day matters! That’s why I’m here to discuss how you can include the CLASS dimension of Instructional Learning Formats (ILF) while children eat.
So, you might wonder, “How do I do this if I’m already so busy?” Well, I’ve got just the recipe for you.
I don’t know about you, but I love it when I already have the ingredients for a recipe in my pantry. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that every teacher has all of the ingredients at their fingertips!
Mix together high-quality amounts of:
Including ILF on the daily menu is beneficial in transforming mealtime from a routine part of the day into an opportunity to support children’s development both emotionally and cognitively. From comparing and classifying the meal to supporting social skills and building relationships, serving up ILF at every meal is a tasty idea!
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.