October 27th, 2010 | No Comments »

From Bronx.org

I just read an article about a cool project in action in some American schools: cooking healthy food from scratch and banning fast food items from the lunch menu.

We have seen it before

That initiative was seen years ago in England with Jamie Oliver when he took over a small town and reformed the lunches.

Jamie argued, though, that to win this battle it would be necessary to veto certain lunches from home. The efforts to prepare a healthy lunch are useless if children bring goldfish and twinkies in their lunchboxes. That means parents and the community must be involved in the project to assure its success.

What “Chefs move to schools” is doing

In that front, the “Chefs move to schools” initiative described in the article brings an important layer to the table: in addition to the presence of gourmet chefs in the school cafeteria, schools are offering cooking lessons for the children after school, and also for the parents, helping these families find ways to eat healthily within a budget.

I think it could be easier

Apparently, some chefs – the article cites Telepan – are using their knowledge and talents to awaken children’s taste buds to the new flavors. However, one of the school chefs had the idea of serving steamed spinach right in the first week. I love spinach, but I have been eating it since the day I could eat solid foods. I believe that children who did not have such luck would be more likely to accept changes if they were not so contrasting. For example, start by offering oven-fried zucchini sticks, which would resemble french fries, but bring more vitamins, a different texture and flavor. Or bring something familiar, like broccoli, but steam it slightly to bring out its flavor, and – why not – add some garlic to enrich it.

There is just so much to introduce, and there are so many interesting, appealing ways to prepare the healthiest of vegetables, I think it is somewhat naive to expect children to just embark on the adventure of trying wilted leaves when they were used to fluffy white bread.

Here’s to the future!

All in all, I still love the initiative, and I am glad something is being done in some schools to improve health and habits. I really, really hope this becomes a national movement soon.

October 5th, 2010 | No Comments »

“Os efeitos da educação infantil na performance escolar”

Li ontem um artigo no Child Psychology Research Blog a respeito da importancia da Educação Infantil (ou creche). Para aqueles dentre nós que já trabalharam com crianças pequenas, essa importância não chega a ser novidade.
Me surpreendeu, porém, que a pesquisa discutida por Nestor Lopesz-Duran, PhD, revelou que o impacto na aprendizagem acadêmica ocorre de fato entre crianças cujos pais não têm um alto nível de educação formal. Em outras palavras, crianças de famílias com um histórico de ensino superior aparentemente não se beneficiam tanto – dentre essas crianças, a pesquisa não encontrou diferença significativa de aprendizagem entre aqueles que tiveram educação infantil e aqueles que não.
Tendo estudado e trabalhado como professora de Educação Infantil e como Psicanalista Infantil, entretanto, eu vejo este tema também sob outra perspectiva, uma perspectiva que tem sido gradualmente mais reconhecida entre aqueles que se preocupam com a educação nos Estados Unidos.

“Fazendo as pazes”

Na revista Instructor de maio/junho de 2010, Samantha Cleaver revelou uma nova tendência nas escolas públicas americanas: ensinar educação socio-emocional. Segundo ela, escolas estão começando a perceber que problemas de comportamento frequentemente diminuem quando há uma dedicação sistematica de tempo para ajudar as crianças a lidar com conflitos, tendo ainda o benefício de melhorar a aprendizagem geral do aluno e subir as notas em testes – chave para fazer funcionar a política educational americana.
Cleaver encontrou e conversou com diversas pessoas envolvidas em movimentos, associações e organizações que promovem, ensinam e apóiam a Educação Social Emocional. Em alguns estados, inclusive, a Educação Social Emocional já faz parte das diretrizes educacionais.

O que eu penso

Lendo a respeito de como as crianças aprendem a interpretar intenções e sentimentos através de ilustrações em livros infantis para poderem entender melhor os sentimentos dos outros, de como aprendem a resolver problemas em vez de ignorar seus conflitos, e como a linguagem e comunicação têm um papel importante no processo de Educação Social Emocional, não pude deixar de pensar: Mas é ISSO que ensinamos na Educação Infantil!!
Voltando ao começo deste artigo, quando comento a discussão de Dr. Lopez-Duran: A pesquisa comprovou que o maior impacto da Educação Infantil no SUCESSO ACADEMICO ocorreu em crianças cujos pais tinham menos educação formal. Eu pergunto, porém, se há uma pesquisa que de conta da APRENDIZAGEM SOCIAL EMOCIONAL e sua relação com a Educação Infantil. Eu arrisco dizer que faz uma diferença enorme, sem relação alguma com a história educacional dos pais.

**

Cleaver, S. (2010). Making peace: Why social and emotional learning has to come first. Instructor. Scholastic:New York.
Lopez-Duran, N (2010). Day care and school readiness. Retrieved from http://www.child-psych.org/2010/10/day-care-and-school-readiness-closing-the.html

October 5th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

“Daycare effects on school performance”

Yesterday I read an article in the Child Psychology Research Blog about the importance of daycare: “Is daycare good for my child? Daycare effects on school performance”.

To those of us who have worked with young children and who have studied Early Childhood Education and Child Psychology, that is not really a new finding. What surprised me, however, was that the research discussed by Nestor Lopez-Duran, PhD, found that the impact on academic learning really happens between children whose parents do not have a lot of schooling. In other words, children from families with a history of higher education apparently do not benefit as much – the research found no significant academic difference between those who attended daycare and those who did not.

Having taught in Early Childhood settings and having worked as a child psychoanalyst, however, I see the theme from another perspective as well, a perspective that is becoming increasingly acknowledged among those who care about education.

“Making peace”

On the end-of-school-year issue of Instructor Magazine, Samantha Cleaver revealed a new trend in public schools around the United States: teaching social and emotional learning skills. According to her, schools are beginning to realize behavior problems often decrease when time is systematically dedicated to helping children deal with conflicts, with the added benefit of also increasing overall learning and test scores – which is the key to motivate policy makers to adhere to any idea related to education.
Cleaver found and talked with a number of people involved in movements, associations, and organizations who promote, teach and offer guidance in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Even some states, like Illinois, begin to include SEL in their teaching standards.

What I think

As I read all about how children are taught to interpret intentions and feelings through illustrations in stories so they can relate to others, how they learn to problem-solve rather than ignore a conflict, and how language and communication play an important part on the whole SEL process, I could not help but think: THAT’s what we teach in Preschool!!!
Now, circling back to the beginning of this article, when I mention Dr. Lopez-Duran’s discussion: The research found that the largest impact of Preschool on ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT was in children whose parents had less formal education. I wonder, however, if there is research on SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING and Preschool. I risk to say it makes a huge difference, unrelated to parents’ educational background.

**

References

Cleaver, S. (2010). Making peace: Why social and emotional learning has to come first. Instructor. Scholastic:New York.
Lopez-Duran, N (2010). Day care and school readiness. Retrieved from http://www.child-psych.org/2010/10/day-care-and-school-readiness-closing-the.html
October 1st, 2010 | No Comments »

CHANGE OF PACE

I have been teaching, mainly preschool and early elementary, for over 10 years, and I always gave my heart, soul, mind and time to the school and the children I worked with. I looked at the world and at diverse situations in my life searching for ways to enhance my teaching and the lives of those I worked with – adults and children.

In Brazil I worked in the same school for 7 years. Although my occupation changed every other year or so, I worked with the same professionals, I was able to grow with the school, and become part of the culture driving the education there. I learned a lot, and I believe my input also helped the school grow. Working at a place without committing to that level feels incomplete, and my current contingencies indicate that such is the case.

As I approach the 40s I wonder if I can dedicate the same energy I have before, which in my perception is key to being a decent educator. The idea that I might not be able to do it to my content leads me to consider not becoming responsible for a classroom full of children as a lead teacher.

OTHER ISSUES

After I spent three months developing myself as a writer, the thought of being in the same place, at the same time, with the same people day after day seems imprisoning. In addition, dealing with the egos of teachers who compete instead of cooperating, and having to sacrifice and bend my core beliefs in the name of an institution stalls personal and professional growth and bitterns my life.

SPEAKING OF PERSONAL GROWTH

On the sweet side, my husband and I have been discussing the idea of becoming parents. This decision cannot wait much, considering my age. Being a parent, much like being a professional, requires a huge dedication to be done to my standards. I do not see myself not working to become a full-time mom and housewife, but I do hope I can have a job that allows me flexibility and time to dedicate to my family.

UNDYING PASSION

On the other hand, each and every time I engage in conversations about education and early childhood, I get excited, inflamed, my heart races and my voice raises – clear symptoms of passion. Leaving all that behind feels like a waste, and would cause an important part of my life to wilt. I wonder what options are out there for me to keep feeding from and giving to this cause impacts me that deeply.

POSSIBILITIES

A few days ago I received an email from my professor from George Fox. She shared with me the news of an Early Childhood Education “colligation” that will meet in Portland for the first time in October. I am fearful of not having much to add, and of being the only one there who is not in a classroom, but this seems like a wonderful opportunity to help me find out what else I could do to put my passion to service, as well as learn more about Reggio Emilia and the Portland schools who are inspired by that philosophy.

Changes are difficult and anxiety-generating, but they are also exciting for bringing possibilities of self-betterment.

Posted in Education, life