School must be so much more than worksheets and assessments, it must be an opportunity for students to flourish and grow in many areas. A place to become empowered to take risks, fail often, and try again.
Education has become a race of sorts. We watch children closely to see who will read first, who will solve the most complicated sum, or who will write the most perfectly punctuated story. But, as we early childhood educators know, it's like assessing children for their first word or their first step. These things happen when the particular child is developmentally ready, and comparing children to each other in their milestones only puts stress on children and the adults who love them. All children have different interests, have different needs, and excel at different things. Children learn at their own pace and develop at their own levels. It is up to us as teachers and parents to provide a rich amount of experiences and opportunities.
Honestly, when the signups come for summer workbooks from the office, I quickly throw them away. I don't want to be part of the worksheet problem. Rather, I spend the year advancing the arts and sciences in my classroom as a tool for exploration and learning. One of my favorite end of the year activities to launch my students into summer is reading Bridget's Beret. This beautiful story encourages creativity and is a great way to encourage children to spend summer free time in creative pursuits, rather than worksheets.
The video below is a great reminder to encourage children to be the highly creative, beautiful, soulful beings they were born to become.
My hope is that all classrooms will be thought of as think-tanks. A place for joyful consideration where everyone is celebrated for their own accomplishments. A place where standardized assessment scores are not the driving force for academic placement. Where academic excellence is obtained by a high level of thematic and cross-curricular teaching.
I have found that by teaching thematically I can allow learners to explore, create, and discover at their own levels. I can integrate across subjects, meeting academic goals for the year in a fun and personalized way for children. If you would like to try teaching thematically, we have a few units to help you get started.