Tag Archives: toddlers

Visual Aide’s & Help Me Learn to Help Myself

by Megan

You might have noticed a few new visual aide’s or posters around Elm House. We have posted these ‘cue cards’ in strategic places around the school to help the children internalize our routines and to help outline the steps for many recurring parts of our day, such as, getting dressed, using the toilet or getting a diaper change, as well as ‘taking a break’. These visuals help reach students in a variety of ways (or languages of learning and experiencing) The 100 Languages, is a key component to Reggio Emilia philosophy.  Like you may guess, the principle refers to communication.  However, the emphasis is in offering children one hundred ways to share their thinking.  Children learn in different ways and the one hundred languages offer different means for learning and expression.

So for example, when a spoken direction is less than effective, we can try to communicate in other ways with visuals. These visuals reinforce our routines at school, and we hope that they serve as almost an instruction manual for independence building. Visual aids allow children the time they need to process what they are being asked to do. They do not disappear into thin air to be forgotten as spoken words or hand gestures do. Visuals can also be sequenced to breakdown and learn a skill, step by step. Visuals remain the same and allow for identical rehearsal and consistent memory pathways to be created (learning!) With this rehearsal and memory of sequenced activities comes understanding and ultimately increased confidence, independence and self esteem. We have noticed the children using the visuals to not only help themselves, but to help others!

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by Mage

This morning a small group came with me to the studio to paint, using one of our houseplants as inspiration.

After we painted, there was, of course, quite a lot of paint on the brushes, the caps we put the paint in, and the table. The children noticed me working to clean this up, and came over to watch. I asked if they might like to help me clean the brushes and caps. They were enthusiastic about helping! I showed them how we could slowly swirl the bristles of the paintbrushes in a container of water, and gently rub the brushes against the caps the wash the paint off.

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Inspired by Nature

by Mage

On Monday a small group came to the Nest with me to work on a drawing and collage piece, with daisies clipped from our front yard as inspiration.  Continue reading

When we work together

By Megan

Earlier this month we hosted our bi-annual garden work party. We were so happy that so many of our families showed up to help us with some much needed clean up after such a harsh winter! We want to say thank you to everyone who contributed their time, who brought food for sharing and for all of your hard work. We hope you enjoyed working along with your children on helping us create some new outdoor provocations for our wonderful yard. We feel very fortunate to have a community of helpers that extends their talents and lends their time helping to create something great for the children. We will be enjoying our uplifted yard for many sunny months to come!

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Pronoun check

by Mage

As the children at Elm House are getting older, many of the three year olds are thinking and learning about gender. At Elm House, this most often comes up in the form of talking about color preference in a stereotypical way (“I want blue because I’m a boy”), or the children asking each other about gender identity (“Are you a girl?”).

Another way the children’s learning about gender can be seen is through the mistakes they make with pronouns. It’s very common for three year-olds to mispronoun everyone around them, as both part of their language development and both social and cultural learning about gender. Pronoun usage is a topic that is important to me, because I am a trans person who is frequently mispronouned. So lately, it has felt like the right time to start talking with the children about pronouns, checking each other’s pronouns, and correcting each other when we know someone has been mispronouned.

Here’s how one recent conversation about pronouns looked.

During a.m. snack, SD, HE, both STs, and EB were sitting at the table eating and chatting with me (Mage).

HE: I have a banana! I like banana.

ST: [To Mage] What did he say?

Mage: HE said “I like banana.” ST, I heard you describe HE with the pronoun “he,” and I think HE might prefer a different pronoun. Did you mean to say a different pronoun?

ST: Yeah.

Mage: We can ask HE about pronouns. Some pronouns that people use are she, he or they. My pronoun is “they.” ST, which pronoun do you use?

ST: I use he.

Mage: You said, “he.” So we will use “he” as your pronoun. We can ask HE and all of the other children, too. HE, which pronoun do you like?

HE: I like black.

Mage: You like the color black? I do too. I’m asking about pronouns, like he, she or they. Which one of those do you want us to use for you?

HE: I like he!

Mage: OK, you said you like, “he,” so that’s what we’ll use for you. So, ST, we asked HE and he said he wants you to use “he” pronouns. I’m glad we asked. Let’s ask the rest of the children. [To other ST] Which pronoun should we use for you?

ST: He!

Mage: OK. “He.” How about you, EB, which pronoun do you like?

EB: Um, I like she.

Mage: You like she. How about you, SD?

SD: I like Toto!

Mage: You like Toto. We’re asking about pronouns, like he, she and they. Is there one you want us to use for you?

SD: Me want you use she.

HE: I like she, too!!

Mage: Oh, HE, you like she now. Earlier you said he, and now you said she. We will use she for you now.


Simple as that. I expect we’ll have many more conversations similar to this one. I was surprised at how well the children comprehended what we were talking about, and mostly responded with confidence. I won’t be surprised if they switch pronouns occasionally, and I will always respect whatever pronoun they tell me to use, even if they change their mind five minutes later (or if don’t change their mind at all). I think the earlier that we start talking about pronouns with the children, and the more consistent we are about having these conversations, the more it will be normal for them to ask new people for pronouns, and perhaps in the long term they will be less likely to make assumptions about gender identity and pronouns.