Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Taking into account attention span

There is a lot of 'brmming' going on in the top image
My working life began as a Primary Teacher, mainly of Year 3 and Year 4, making the children nine and ten years of age. After three years of that (at Lyneham and Cook in the ACT, then Waratah West in Newcastle), I moved down to Melbourne and spent 18 months working in a range of city and suburban schools as a long-term (weeks) relief teacher. All this I relate, to slip in the sorry tale of the hardest day's work I have ever done. I was at Brighton Beach State School and although primarily on Third Class, one day I was asked to take Kindergarten in an emergency. I did not know what hit me! They couldn't concentrate, they couldn't sit still, and they completed every task the moment I finished explaining it. I needed a squillion things prepared, and more backed-up in my head.

And yet, from 1982 to 1986 I was involved with Family Day Care, and a Pre-School all in St Ives!

So, on the days when Alannah is coming, I am up early 'ploughing the field' to use my favourite metaphor when it comes to educating children. I make sure the bedroom is ready for when she needs to sleep or have her nappy changed. Then, I lay out the living room, then the courtyard.

In schools, the most valuable time is the time prior to recess and immediately after recess. The value of each minute reduces from about midday. Certainly, by the afternoon, you need to have programmed 'fun' activities, winding down activities. Hence, number and language is done first when the children are more likely to be fresh. Hence, in my opinon, PhysEd., sport, music, drama, dance, and art are all scheduled for during the afternoon. Of course, the teachers of those subjects would probably have a different attitude.

I need to follow this 'rule' with Alannah: get her inside into the living room first; then, allow her out into the courtyard later. It is difficult though, because she enters via the courtyard, and I have set out the sand, and the water, and the trucks, and the balls. Plus, I am not sure I want this quite that prescriptive at this stage.

Wednesday is a short session: 8am to 1130am only, which is when her nap starts. That aspect is working well. Bang! She was asleep when her head hit the pillow today. I must learn the words of 'Lavender's Blue'. However. I have maybe a dozen nursery rhymes that I 'rock' her to sleep with.

Although today was scheduled to get to 29C, it took its time doing so, and a cool breeze blew early, making it tough that Alannah chose water play first. Well, first after she had a lenthy 'hello' with the cats. She is learning how to pat and the meaning of the word 'gentle' and that you DO NOT pat a cat 'in reverse'. They do not go for it! Then we sorted the coloured sticks from the pack of UNO cards, one into that plastic tub, the other into this plastic tub. In a little while we will graduate into sorting by colour using both cards and sticks. Later on, outside we collected enough 'things' to make a natural tray selection: black stones, white stones, shells, leaves etc. I have various seeds and cones to add to this. We did not touch crayons today, and the reading was cursory (Busy Spider, Waterhole and Roadworks). I want to find a book of poetry (illustrated) for children. Not nursery rhymes, but poetry.

However, dancing was made more complex, and a hoop and bowling were introduced. Margaret had made a suggestion that I introduce some of the costumes of the Morris Dance to go with the Scottish fiddle music that I mentioned the other day. So we put on our hatties, tied a scarf around our necks, put our ribbons on our wrists and trailed a hanky (a la Oscar the Wilde) from our fingers. A pair of whirling dervishes. Alannah warmed to it: meaning she would not have a bar of it to begin with! I need a smaller scarf for her, and preferably in primary colours. I complicate this when appropriate, with bells on our legs and show her a Morris Dance on U-tube.

We did more vehicle spotting again today. She knows a bus now even when her back is to the road!

So, Grandad arrived at the bewitching hour, and Alannah spent ages introducing him to all three cats - a number of times.


brattcat said...

i'd love for you to write a book about how to entertain a beloved toddler. i would cherish it if i should ever find myself in this situation.

Julie said...

You will, Karen. You will. You just need to ensure that you are all on the same side of 'the pond'. Proximity is everything.

Ann said...

Please, please a photo with the hatties, prefereably on both of you.

Julie said...

*grin* ... there is a 'hatties' shot coming tomorrow on Sydney Eye, Ann.

How on earth to get a shot of us mid-dance ... I could go to tripod and set it to take every 10 secs ... but we whirl ... I guess blurred is what its all about ... actually that is an idea. Shall work ont for next week.

Joan Elizabeth said...

She's sitting in a magic circle in the bottom shot.

Julie said...

This is one of the way in which young kids are similar to cats: they like to feel enclosed. Alannah also likes to sit in cardboard boxes where she only just fits.

Kids also push and push, until they reach the boundaries that adults set. No boundaries, they just keep pushing.

freefalling said...

I imagine Kirsten sort of favours one side of her mouth.
In the first shot of Alannah you can see how one side of her mouth is more engaged than the other.
I wonder if it's just a coincidence or if she is unconsciously mimicking her Mum.

Kay L. Davies said...

I think Alannah's face just reflects the brrmmm sounds she's making.
I love the shot of her sitting inside the hoop!
It's wonderful to watch her grow and learn. Yes, I think a book about Beguiling the Beloved Babe would be a hit.
What with the time difference, Kirsten must be post-surgical and wanting to see Alannah, or maybe just Alannah's dad.
Love to all of you.

Julie said...

Not post just yet, Kay. She went in last night to the ward so that the medical staff had control. Her operation will start within the next 45 minutes is my best guess. She is probably gowned and preped now lying on a guerney.

Alannah is at daycare. Darren has gone to a clients. It will be a long day.

I would like to see her by this evening, but will take Darren's advice on this.

diane b said...

You are doing a great job teacher Ma. Never mind the book just a list of activities will be good. Hope Kirsten will come through okay. Thinking of you.