Stacia Jackson is the Education Manager for Jumpstart.
If you ever visit a Jumpstart session, you’ll see firsthand Corps members, both college students and community members, actively engaging with children. The room is electric with learning and possibilities! While observing the session, you’ll see Corps members shopping for groceries with children in Dramatic Play, matching uppercase and lowercase letters in Puzzles and Manipulatives, and learning more about how things go in Reading. There is a buzz of conversation in the classroom unlike anything else. The Jumpstart session fosters a strong collaboration between adults and children as they work and learn together. It is almost impossible to walk into a Jumpstart classroom and not want to play too!
This week is the perfect time to celebrate all the moments of collaboration and partnership in the classroom. Starting on April 10th, it is officially the Week of the Young Child, the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s annual week of celebrating our youngest learners. Each day of this special week has a theme. This Wednesday is Work Together Wednesday. Working together with children to support their learning is an amazing way to show that you care. No need to worry about including technology, expensive toys, or complex games. All it takes is a good conversation starter and some imagination.
The Jumpstart session fosters a strong collaboration between adults and children as they work and learn together. It is almost impossible to walk into a Jumpstart classroom and not want to play too!
On this Work Together Wednesday, try building something with a child in your life. It can be made out of blocks, clay, or even couch cushions! The most important thing to remember is that you are building something together. As you’re building together, try engaging in mirror talk. This is a simple conversation technique that focuses children’s attention and makes him or her aware of their actions. Notice what the child is doing and say it back to them. For example, if the child is building something out of blocks, instead of asking, “What are you building?” you could say, “I see that you’re taking all of these blocks and building a really high tower.” Mirror talk gives children specific, detailed information about what they are doing and saying. It also encourages children’s engagement in the activity. Just by engaging in this conversation style, you are actively working together with a child to support their learning! If you get stuck, use conversation starters like, “I think… I notice… I wonder… I believe… I see…” and let it go from there!
Looking for another project? Find a cardboard box (any size will work), some markers, crayons, and chalk. What should the box be? Let the child take the lead as you create a spaceship, racecar, igloo, or bear den. Work together to create a masterpiece. As the box transforms, ask questions about what other materials can be included. Talk about the color, texture, and shape of the materials. Continue to ask open ended questions to support children’s language skills and let their imaginations take flight.
Mirror talk gives children specific, detailed information about what they are doing and saying. It also encourages children’s engagement in the activity. Just by engaging in this conversation style, you are actively working together with a child to support their learning!
Don’t let the fun stop there! You can engage children in any part of the day and turn it into a game. Working and playing together can encompass anything from counting the number of tomatoes going into the pasta sauce for dinner to talking about the color and shape of clothing as they are being folded and put away. These little moments help build the crucial building blocks children need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Any moment in your day can be a learning opportunity and a chance to work together with the child in your life. Remember to have fun as you work together, build together, and learn together.