There is a teacher term, ‘Emergent Curriculum’, which simply means that a teacher pays attention and follows the interests of children in order for real learning to happen. It means stopping to listen to what children have to say, and answering their questions. When the questions become abundant or when a child discovers something, then it is time to change horses. Climb off that teacher saddle and find a new one, because the children are now driving the horse.
That’s exactly what happened this week.
We walked up to the big hill to sing songs. It was a long walk to get to the top of the hill. Suddenly, children saw hundreds of dandelions, the bright yellow flowers, and also the dandelions in seed. We picked flowers!
Music could wait.
Children blew dandelion seeds over and over again. Big breath in, and blow hard! This is not easy to do. Do you know that blowing is excellent for oral muscle development? The children didn’t know. They just had fun trying so hard to blow those seeds.
Music could wait.
Just when we were ready to sing, a red leaf landed on my head! Wait, the tree had green leaves. We looked up, and sure enough there was one clump of red leaves. Well, we immediately went on a red leaf hunt.
Music could wait.
At last we enjoyed music and dancing and moving. The great outdoors made it all the better, in a field of dandelions and fallen red leaves.
We brought the red leaves into the classroom and made an impromptu science table with magnifying glasses for children to explore the leaves. This was an important follow through to discovering the red leaves.
Thank goodness I stopped when children saw dandelions on that hill. Lessons and learning are far better ‘in the heat of the moment’. We talked about wind and seeds. We watched what direction the seeds were flying. We speculated where they would go.
None of this wonderful discovery would have happened if I had been focused on music and ‘tuned out’ what children were seeing. Emergent curriculum is one of the best things that has happened in education.
Brilliant, Jennie. I totally agree. Seize the moments.
Thank you, Norah!
Excellent! They carried on learning, whatever the original intention.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thank you, Pete.
Really excellent post, and true for nearly all students and teachers in life’s grand classroom. Thank you for sharing.
It is years since I was in a classroom but I still remember times when I could take the children into the park to identify trees. I’m not sure it is allowed any more. the curriculum here is so tight. It’s all about plans and outcomes, nothing spontaneous. If I went back, just to hear reading I don’t think I would like it. I do enjoy a little bit of freedom. Never mind, I’m writing a story for children instead.
We should look forward, not back and just hope that things will get better.
Beautiful words, Julie. Thank thank goodness I teach preschool where the wonders of nature are exciting for children, and they are eager to learn and explore. I feel sorry for the kindergarteners that sit and sit in a classroom. It’s just not right. Yes, we should look forward, with hope.
When a child become curious, enthusiastic, they truly start to learn. It is a wise teacher that learns that.
Yes, indeed! I was not gifted with that wisdom, I had to learn that teachers need to learn, too.
But you did. And that is what makes you such a good teacher: you listen.
Thank you, Pam. Yes, I do. 😊
here you show how to let kids be kids and the importance of play for learning. you didn’t teach, you guided and I’d much rather be seen as a facilitor who show the importance of inquiry in learning than one who is seen as all knowing!
on a side note… I saw an fall activity that you might like to do with your kiddos. they used a venn diagram with leaves for this they put the red leaves in one side, the yellow in the other and orange in the middle…
We both know that being a facilitator is the the best kind of teacher. And, thanks for the fall activity idea!
I think the reason you’re such a good teacher is that you remember what it’s like to be a child, to be in the moment. It’s wonderful that you support that curiosity in their lives. The world will put the brakes on soon enough.
I do remember, Dan. And I want them to experience it all… before the world puts on the brakes. Thank you.
A lovely post, Jennie. Fun for everyone. You could have done leaf rubbings.
Thank you, Robbie. Leaf rubbings are in the plans. 🙂
Great to hear that, they are so much fun.
Such a beautiful and wonderful post, Jennie. Nice to see such cute pictures of children running around.
Ahhhhh! The teachable moment. Perfect, Jennie!
Thank you, Anneli!
I so agree. We need to be aware of those teachable moments, even as parents and grandparents. I love the idea of the children driving the horse. What a great day you had!
It was a great day, Darlene. Teachable moments can be in the smallest of things. Thank you.
An emergency curriculum is the best way to see real learning 🥰
I know what you mean! 😍
What a wonderful opportunity to learn something amazing about the flowers, and leaves! You’re the best, Jennie!
Thanks so much for your kind words, Deborah!
Cheers to seizing the moment! ❤ xo
Yes, indeed! 😍
Reminds me of what fun it was to ‘be a Mom’ during kiddos growing up years plus as a Mom volunteer in theirs and others classes. To think you get to do this!
There are wonderful moments in teaching and parenthood. Thanks, Laura!
It’s funny that a new phrase had to be coined for a very traditional way of engaging with kids. It shows you how far education had gotten from being kid centered.
Well said, Elizabeth. I still have many parents who think it’s all about teaching the ABC’s. That has been a driving force over the years to push for testing and more testing in schools. We’re turning kids into robots. It’s sad.
And then we wonder why they can’t think critically!
That is a better word than you may realize. The best presenter for preschool teachers was Bev Bos. She understood children and what they needed. I will never forget her telling teachers at a conference that what we lack are developing ‘critical, divergent thinkers’. That phrase has never left me, because she was right. She talked about the astronauts who landed on the moon, and how they had to make tough decisions on the spot. She related this back to preschool and what we need to do to develop critical, divergent thinkers. I work hard to do that.
My friend who teaches Montessori said the same about Bev Bos. Divergent thinkers sure are the opposite of either/or thinkers aren’t they.
Yes, they are! Good to hear your friend knows Bev Bos. She was the guru.
I love how you teach. But you know that. I had fun watching those children and feeling their excitement over simple things.
Thank you, Marlene! 😀
Another brilliant lesson, Jennie. I understand why teachers write lesson plans (It’s nice to have a road map), but by Monday afternoon, it had always changed. Kids drive the curriculum—not teachers.
They do! I just wish all teachers could throw away their road maps.
Ah indeed the surprise of the new and the joy of the refound. Whatever age, there’s fun in finding the inner life of the familiar.
Well said, Geoff!
This is wonderful. It shows that you always pick up the children where they are in terms of feeling. Even in times of mask duty, the lungs are trained. Michael
Yes, they are. Thanks, Michael!
Hi Jennie, and thank you for another wonderful post and a brilliant lesson for all teachers!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Charles!
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
Here is another wonderful blogpost from the extraordinary teacher, Jennie!
Thank you, Charles!
I would love to see you write a book especially for new and aspiring teachers….You have such a resonance with the spirit of the job…You are just the kind of person a reinvented education industry needs, and the kind of authority I would seek out if teaching young children had been my passion. (Just sayin’) 🙂
Thank you, KC. I pitched this book to agents, suggesting it would be a “Chicken Soup For the Soul” type of collection for teachers and parents. No biters after many query letters. I am ready to pitch two children’s books I have written over many years. I’m sure I’ll return to a ‘teacher book’ at some point. Thank you!
I would buy it.
That’s so nice, KC! 🥰
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Thank you, Dan!
The children remind me of puppies. Lol. Distracted by new adventures! How wonderful to go with the flow and take advantage of their natural curiosity. And how lovely to be outside as long as possible. Wonderful post, Jennie. 🙂
I can see that, Diana. Puppies also have the same enthusiasm for discovery. It is certainly wonderful to be outside. Thank you!
Learning is best carried out when both the learners and teacher are in sync and nothing better than learning in the natural environment ..and shifting the onus of learning to the students and the teacher just facilitating the process and satisfying their curiousity..
Well said, Krish. That’s exactly how it should be.
Those kids are surely lucky to have a teacher like you.❤🕊
Absolutely the best way to let them explore and be children. Beautiful as always Jennie ❤
You are right, Debby. Thank you!
Absolutely, more so when they were out, it is mainly their area of dominance in the energy works. My school children even though they have a small place but its always exciting how thet discover things to play with day after day. Thanks for sharing Jennie.
Yes, it is exciting to observe their discovery. Thank you!