- Di Zheng
Children have their own learning story as they explore their social and natural environment. They have their own ways of solving problems and dealing with the issues they face. This makes them unique from one person to another. Furthermore, it helps adult understand the importance of seeing things lightly-no matter how difficult life may seem. Sometimes, it is better to learn from children because their innocence enlightens the adults-through the way they see ideas and things from their perspectives. In early childhood education, teachers are considering even the most basic aspect of child’s learning. They identify and strengthen the flourishing skills and abilities of children based on each child’s behaviour, actions, and words. Teachers are taking the opportunity to expand the ideas, thoughts, feelings, and abilities of each child when they see interesting events or behaviour. To further understand these ideas, several authors on childhood education provide learning stories. These learning stories illustrate the journey of toddlers in solving problems and accomplishing tasks. The purpose of this report is to discuss Ruby’s shopping. This paper aims to explore Ruby’s demonstrated skills and abilities in her imaginary world. Understanding Ruby’s capabilities, skills, and personality enable teachers to use different strategies to nurture Ruby’s experience and understanding.
Ruby is playing the sandpit making puddings, but she wants to have other ingredients to finish her tasks. She wants apples, bananas, chocolate, and ice cream, but she cannot have it all in the centre so she needs to “go shopping.” Her teacher assist her in finding the toy fruits and other things, which she enjoys doing. After getting all the things she needed, Ruby talks to her teacher about the experience and she says that she loves buying things. The next day, another teacher joins her to go to a real supermarket to buy things they need. To add more to their shopping list, Ruby asks other teachers what they want her to buy. It gives her more responsibilities than her typical needs. When they reach the supermarket, the teacher, Ruby, and another child, Miller, start to buy everything. They return to the centre after completing their errands and talk about what they learn. The teacher asks Ruby about what she learns and feels while shopping. Ruby says that she loves shopping. During the first and second activity, the teacher identifies the skills and abilities of Ruby when it comes to money and shopping sequencing. She also knows what to consider and she is firm with her shopping list. Though she tends to forget some things in her list, she shows determination in completing everything. She is also patient in exploring her social environment. Furthermore, she is open to assistance and help when needed. She accepts suggestion and works with it to complete her tasks successfully. The teachers working with her perceive these opportunities and skills in nurturing the mind and wellbeing of the child.
Ruby shows significant interest in her social environment-and she does not simply create things according to rules. She demonstrates her creativity by looking for more resources within her reach. It is true that Ruby’s “make-believe play provides an information exchange within a responsive social context. Ruby’s use of language in her play as she responds, imagines, questions, describes, creates, and decides shows her independence, confidence, and sense of responsibility for her own learning” (p.8). This statement justifies Ruby’s desire to learn and to explore the resources available for her. As she explores, she learns new things. This can be a form of scientific inquiry wherein she conducts observation, classification, experimentation, prediction, drawing conclusions, and communication of ideas (Neil, 2009). With her teachers’ help, Ruby is able to accomplish her tasks the scientific way. In this manner, Ruby demonstrates different feelings and emotions that justify her disposition. It is correct to say that her discussion with her teacher “going on a trip to the supermarket enabled Ruby to take responsibility for her learning and to express her ideas and feelings, two very significant learning dispositions” (p.9). This statement is true because Ruby does not stress herself in finding solution to her problems. She takes one step at a time and completes them successfully.
Another important to consider is Ruby’s mathematical abilities. In the first activity, Ruby knows how to pay for the things she buys to the supermarket. She is aware that everything taken from the supermarket should be paid immediately. This practice is also shown in her journey to the real supermarket. This mathematic ability may not be unique, but interesting to see from a young child. Ruby can have a significant advantage in mathematical concepts and learning because she is aware of numbers and mathematical ideas. It is true that “to be good or proficient at mathematics, children must know more than the content. They must be able to communicate the knowledge, connect that knowledge to other mathematical ideas and to other subject areas, represent their understanding, use that knowledge as they solve problems and reason” (Copley, 2010, p.29). From this sense, it can be said that mathematics should not only be practiced inside the classroom, but also in everyday life (Peters & Rameka, 2010). In Ruby’s case, these ideas are perceived because she uses her mathematical knowledge in the real world. She uses math to buy things in the supermarket-not only in money, but also sequencing. It is also important to note that children need to “demonstrate a disposition that think flexibility and with persistence about mathematic to solve problems” (Copley, 2010, p.29). This thought occurs in Ruby in the first activity. She demonstrates the ability to solve problems by finding more resources. She does not simply complete the pudding; instead, she finds other things to make the pudding better in taste, smell, and appearance. These thoughts show how Ruby is able to apply mathematics in everyday life.
Linking to Te Whaariki
The Te Whariki is the Ministry of Education in New Zealand providing early childhood curriculum policy statement. This ministry plays an important role in shaping and nurturing early childhood curriculum to help early learners and educators in expanding knowledge, abilities, skills, personality, and identity. The goals of the early childhood curriculum under the Te Whariki include empowerment, holistic development, family and community, and relationships (Ministry of Education, 1996). Empowerment aims to see how children empower their skills and abilities to grow and learn. Holistic development aims to show children’s holistic growth and learning. Family and community aims to expand the knowledge and emotional stability of children with their family and community. Relationships encourage children to establish and learn the different kinds of relationships that they can use in their social connection and interaction. The Te Whariki curriculum aims to establish connection with people and understand children’s personality, identity, and skills at an early age. Using different teaching strategies and methods, teachers are able to unleash the innate skills of children. After unleashing these skills, the teachers are able to nurturing and mould them according to the desires and personalities of children. In Ruby’s case, it shows that the teachers are responding to the goals and principles of Te Whariki in empowering, holistically developing, establishing community, and encouraging relationships. Ruby’s simple journey to the supermarket with Miller and her teacher creates a significant impact to her being because it demonstrates her skills and help her identify the different things available around her. These understandings correspond to Te Whariki.
Linking to New Zealand Curriculum
In the case of the New Zealand curriculum, Ruby’s learning story demonstrates her abilities and skills at a young age. In early childhood curriculum, this is an important development because not all children are able to progress as fast as Ruby. This is the reason why numerous childhood education programs and services are available throughout New Zealand-to help and encourage young children to unleash their skills, talents, and knowledge innate to them. It is important to note that “early childhood care and education in New Zealand cover the years from birth to school entry age. Although participation is voluntary, attendance levels within early childhood education services continue to increase for all ages” (Ministry of Education, 1996, p.17). This statement justifies that early childhood education programs and services reveal that early childhood learners are increasing in population over the years. The probable reason behind this is due to the increasing desire of parents to expose their children to the real world (Ministry of Education, 2007). Aside from the fact that some parents do not have sufficient time for their children, encouraging toddlers to communicate and explore their social environment will shape their personality, identity, and way of life (Ministry of Education, 2007). This is the reason why the New Zealand curriculum is imposing strict policies in nurturing and educating young learners. According to the Ministry of Education (1996), “Early childhood education services are committed to ensuring that learning opportunities are not restricted by gender, locality, or economic constraints” (p.17). This statement argues that the New Zealand curriculum is devoted to provide learning opportunities to any toddle from all walks of life. They do not disregard children according to gender, locality, or economic constraints because they want to provide education for all. This principle of the curriculum is shown in the second activity of Ruby’s journey to the supermarket wherein the teacher includes Miller into the activity. Two children, a boy and a girl, enjoy the activity as they both want to learn about things.
Considering Ruby’s learning story, it can be said that early childhood education is both fun and complicated. Children nowadays need real situations, occurrences, and events to clearly shape their knowledge and abilities (Dunn & Stinson, 2012). Due to this, numerous early childhood programs and services are moving beyond the four corners of the classroom and explore the real world with these young learners. However, the prgrams and services provided to these children are related, connected, and in accordance to the standard academic curriculum of early childhood education. The Ministry of Education (1996) emphasizes that “many early childhood education services exist as part of a national organisation which provides their philosophical rationale and direction. The particular approach of each organisation to curriculum is an essential part of its identity, and some organisations run specialised training programmes to assist in developing a curriculum appropriate for their particular philosophy” (p.17). From this sense, it can be said that early childhood education should not only be fun, enjoyable, and light. It should also provide extensive learning and exploration according to the goals of early childhood curriculum. The Te Whariki is doing its best to shape the curriculum based on the needs and demands of the children for their innocence is wide and great (Alvestad, Duncan, & Berge, 2009). Therefore, they want to explore the world differently-using real experiences, things, and environment. This judgment supports the Ministry of Education’s (1996) claim saying that “the early childhood curriculum recognises that there can be wide variations in the rate and timing of children’s growth and development and in their capacity to learn new things in new places” (p.20). The early childhood curriculum is more complicated than any curriculums because it does not only consider the age and condition of the students, but also their learning abilities, mood, and desires for them to successfully grow and develop (Blaiklock, 2011). In Ruby’s case, it is shown that the teachers in the centre are doing their best to provide children the best environment. They show children the real world with great guidance and assistance. Through these things, children would be able to explore their social environment without being vulnerable or hesitant because they know that someone is there to support them.
Ruby’s learning story is interesting because she demonstrates strong abilities and skills at an early age. However, not only her abilities and personalities should be considered, but the role and competency of the educators as well. The learning story reveals that the teachers are aware of the importance of the real world-and they go extra mile to provide children their needs in holistic development. As they physically, mentally, and emotionally develop through experiences, children are also able to establish communication and relationships with their community. All these things are shown in Ruby’s learning story-and they all correspond to the principles and goals of Te Whariki and New Zealand early childhood education curriculum.
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Copley, J. (2010). The young child and mathematics (2nd ed., pp. 29â€44). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
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Dunn, J. & Stinson, M. (2012). Dramatic play and drama in the early years: Re-imagining the approach. In Wright, S. (Ed.), Children, Meaning Making and the Arts (2nd ed, pp. 115-134). French’s Forest, Australia: Pearson.
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