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Growing Together: Rivers Children are Capable, Confident, and Kind

February 2, 2022 | Kristen Jordan

The snowy days in the park have been spectacular! 

As we have looked around the classroom and watched children putting all of their winter gear on to get ready for the park, we have been amazed at how independent the children have become. 

Children are persistent in working really hard to put all of their gear on by themselves!  Earlier in the year, some children would give up trying or groan in frustration if they couldn’t put something on.  Now all children try first, and then if they still need help, they use words to say “Will you please help me with my mitten?”  

Watching children get ready is such incredible evidence of how much the children are growing not only at putting on snow gear, but in so many different ways.  

We get very few requests for help with opening snacks because children are trying on their own–successfully!

The children are independent in the bathroom, at cleaning up and packing up, at knowing where to be at different times during our day.

Children are making decisions with conviction about where they want to work and have been demonstrating confidence, competence, and independence as they work.  “I want to go to drawing.” “I am going to draw a spider!”

We had a discussion about how we are all still growing and learning and that not everyone knows how to do the same things. 

Children shared what their bears are still learning how to do.  This list included:

Sitting up

Painting

Running

How to be strong

Saying please and thank you

Picking up books

And then we talked about how children might be able to help someone who is still learning to do something.  They suggested:

Holding their hand

Showing them

Offering encouragement

Cheering them on when they do something

Remind them to use words

Children are developing in their ability to think about how to help one another as they interact.

Children may not always feel comfortable sharing, or be able to recognize the things they need to work on, but their bears can help them to understand that everyone is still working on something! 

Children’s conversation skills are also really developing.  After having a conversation about what the bears are working on, on another day the children shared some thoughts about how they have grown themselves.  We heard about many children who brush their teeth on their own, or with a bit of help from a parent, but some children said they do not brush their teeth by themselves.  It was great for children to feel comfortable sharing with each other, and hear that not everyone is doing the same things.  

We celebrate one another’s successes, like when someone is able to put on their mittens for the first time, or when a child builds a strong structure or remembers to ask for help.  Those gestures encourage persistence, while they also help build relationships and kindness.

The children’s relationships with one another have grown as well.  A particular area where we have witnessed a great deal of growth is in the language children are using in interacting with others.  We hear children using more and more language with one another.

“Can I play with you?”  

“Your drawing is beautiful!” 

“Can I help you?”

“I like your dress!”

“Thank you and happy birthday!”

“Can I have a turn?”

Our hope for all children is that they feel connected, competent, and capable throughout the day.  We also hope for children to know and understand that they are all still learning how to do things and we can all be supportive of one another through this process!  

Sometimes it takes reflecting on a daily routine like putting on snow gear to prompt thinking about how much children are growing in so many other ways!  

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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