Thursday, February 24, 2011

Teach a Man to Fish

Though my spring break doesn't occur for nearly another month, my kids are already taking theirs. This is because different schools in different districts of Prague have different holidays to prevent the entire country fleeing to the mountains at once. None of my kids are vacationing in the Mediterranean for spring break. They all go to the mountains. One of those little things about living in a post communist country is seeing how the limits imposed by the government became somehow natural. But that's a post for another day.

My kids are off on holiday because their older siblings in other schools have holidays. This means that instead of my class of eight little princesses, we've been topping out at five. While it's frustrating because my kids will be at such different levels after this next month, it has given me a chance to get to know them better as individuals.

And there are those moments when I just happen to be listening to the right kid at the right moment that make my whole life make sense...

We've been putting up a bulletin board with fruit on it to show how some fruit grows on bushes and other fruit grows on trees. I was hanging a cloud up with rain coming down over one of the bushes and one of my girls asked why it was raining.
"Well, you need to drink water and tea, right?"
"The bush needs to drink, too. It drinks the rain water."

A few hours later, my girls were sitting below the bulletin board.
"You know why is cloudy here?" I heard. "The bush need drink rain water so it get big."

A few minutes later:
"I am rain and you are bush. I come and make you big, okay?"

Most teachers I know think of circle time as their most important lesson time. I'm learning that the time I give to individual children is just as important if not more important than our class lessons. If I teach the whole class something they don't particularly care about, it's lost about five minutes later. But if I spur the curiosity of a child and that child spurs the curiosity of another child, two sentences can lead to an elaborate role-play in which my children figure out how the world around them works.

My kids are always playing nurturing games. "I'm Mommy and you're Baby!" Or "I am the kitten and you're my daddy!" They've managed to discover a new nurturing game as rain nurtures plants. Spring is coming and I'm so excited to see it through their eyes.


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