Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The importance of teaching kids - Planning and Reflection

Planning and reflection are important ' executive functions that are crucial to the problem solving process. Kids express their autonomy and competence and relatedness  when they plan and reflect .

In the following article Ann Epstein shows how planning and reflection helps to develop the thinking skills of young kids

'In order to promote child development , young children should be given the opportunities to plan and make choices. However, the guidelines, and in fact most early childhood programs, do not differentiate between these two activities. Planning is more than making choices.

Planning is choice with intention.

 That is, the chooser begins with a specific goal or purpose in mind that results in the choice. First we must differentiate real choices in which teachers offer multiple options (“What colors do you want to use in your painting?”) from pseudochoices in which teachers direct children to a limited number of adult-selected options (“Do you want to use red or blue?”) But planning goes further than selecting from open-ended choices. When we engage children in planning, we encourage them to
identify their goals and consider the options for achieving them. For example, they might consider what they will do, where they will do it, what materials they will use, who they will do it with, how long it will take, and whether they will need help. Planning thus involves deciding on actions and predicting interactions, recognizing problems and proposing solutions, and anticipating consequences and reactions. Most early childhood practitioners also recognize the importance of developing memory skills in young children.
Teachers might ask children to remember something they learned  earlier in the day or to recall an event that occurred earlier in the week. Reflection, however, is more than memory or a rote recitation of completed activities.

Reflection is remembering with analysis.

When we engage children in reflection, we encourage them to go beyond merely reporting what they’ve done. We also help them become aware of what they learned in the process, what was interesting,
how they feel about it, and what they can do to build on or extend the experience. Reflection
consolidates knowledge so it can be generalized to other situations, thereby leading to further prediction and evaluation. Thus planning and reflection, when they bracket active learning, are part of an ongoing cycle of
deeper thought and thoughtful application. '    Ann Epstein

Planning and reflection are also very important in the home.  Choice is something done in the moment , it focuses on one point in time. Planning and reflection give kids a wider time horizon focusing not only on the present but future and past. It helps kids deal with disappointment and frustration by allowing them to see a bigger picture and more opportunities than the present moment can give. We can help kids plan their day , their bed time rituals etc with specific goals in mind.  Kids , with specific goals in mind can make up their own lists and schedules. Instead of parents giving orders or reminding kids of their chores , they can refer to the list , that the child has made. It is not the parent telling the child what to do , but a list or schedule that the child has created. 

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