I believe the environment is the children’s third teacher. I enjoyed reading about the different aspects that we have to consider to serve this purpose. There are so many elements involved.
I especially like the principle “Involve the children in the process of planning and setting up the environment” (Page 335). Sometimes, the teacher is the owner of the classroom and it is very hard for children to feel that it is theirs as well. Leaving spaces for the children to display their works and their pictures is important, as well as involving them in big changes in the physical space. It creates a sense of ownership.
“Make it safe to make mistakes” (Page 336)
The self-help environment’s goal is for children to see self-reliance as valuable. “[They] become capable of reinforcing [themselves] and leaves ways open for adults to praise [them] for other important things.” (Page 340).
I am a fan of Alphie Kohn and I really feel that praise needs to be used more carefully in the classroom. We have a tendency to praise every single action of the child which encourages them to do things to receive it. We should reinforce the value of their actions and its usefulness to them instead of saying “good job!” We need to focus more on developing internal motivations instead of creating a system in which external motivations are the main driver to evaluate success.
I found the 4 principles for creating an effective curriculum very valuable (integrated, emergent, based on multiple intelligences, mind differences in learning styles). It is an easy check list to keep in mind.
All the curriculum models offer valuable approaches than can be incorporated. I like: Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Waldorf. Open your mind to create great curriculums and teaching skills no mater what is the method used in your school.
Sources: Beginnings and Beyond. Gordon, Browne.