A Child's Wonder

I work in special education so I see many different ways of teaching. I don't teach, so it feels like a load off my shoulders, but I often mingle with those who do.

In December we had an inservice meeting where the guest speaker was a woman who runs a preschool in California. I don't want to give names or go into who she is, suffice to say she's had enough experience teaching toddlers and getting to understand them than I've ever dreamed of.

The experience of listening to her and her son-in-law was very rewarding, and I came away with many thoughts. The main one that stuck with me was when she talked about art and children. She stated that so many schools take the things out of the teaching paradigm that are what children need to learn and to grow. Many of them take out art and social interaction. She said that we've become an in-door society, but that's another subject.

I felt her ideas about art and the development in children bore mentioning as we talk and explore art.

Many teachers have a very structured classroom. The projects are dictated, and the supplies limited. They instruct the children to copy whatever is being done for the day. There is little room for those who do not follow what the teacher wants them to do.

This stifles their imagination in a way -- and I've always felt this, before I listened to the speaker. But, she pointed out that most of a child's learning is in one side of the brain when they are young, and in another when they are older. Forcing them to learn to read when they are young, basically handicaps them when they get older -- this according to her.

It made me feel better that none of mine really liked to read until they were in Jr High...grin.

Anyway, we were discussing art.

Have you ever noticed that details are not often what is important in a child's world? What is important are the major things they feel and see. People holding hands...animals that are happy and have all their limbs...or more than four. Rich colors, although not necessarily the colors you would pick. Their imaginations are boundless in how they see the world.

As we grow, for some reason, we loose some of that. Perhaps we retain our imaginations in our reading, but we loose some originality. It makes it harder to understand the child and their mind. We have a more difficult time reaching them, or being able to teach at a level they understand, because our minds are much more cluttered.

In this month of newness, January of 2009, perhaps we can all take a fresh look at the world around us. See it with new and hopeful eyes. Children have a hope we could only wish for, a faith that is inspiring to all. We need to seek it and bring it into our lives every day.

Find a child and discover the world through their eyes. It's art in it's purest form.

Return to the Neighborhood.


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