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Joan Lundbohm is our first guest author this month.  Joan has over 25 years in the field of ECE. She has been a teacher and director. She directed Robert H Lange Preschool, a NAEYC accredited school for 17 years. She has been part of the California Early Childhood Mentor Program for 5 years as a Director Mentor. She has a BA and a Program Director Permit. She is currently a consultant in the ECE field, mentoring programs and directors toward high quality. She is passionate about helping families and children. She is a lifelong learner who is always up for a challenge.

Influenced by Howard Gardner

I have been interested in psychology from a young age. When I was 15 I got my first magazine subscription, “Psychology Today.” Around that time the myth that we, as humans only use ten percent of our brain was circulating. I had a burning desire to find out what happened in the rest of that 90%.  Reading psychology books and articles fed the need to discover unchartered territory and get a glimpse into what the mind was capable of doing. Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983. That year my son was born and I was at a time in my life when I felt an overwhelming desire to understand the brain since I was now responsible for my child. I do not remember exactly when I started reading Multiple Intelligences but I remember reading it twice in a row when it first came out.  Years later, I remember picking my up kids from elementary school and seeing a banner that said they were offering summer school based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences! I was so excited for that opportunity for my children. Now I had the daunting task of explaining to my first and third grader that they would be going to summer school.

When I became a preschool Director it was back in the day when everyone was doing themes and I did that as well, until one day I summoned the courage to tell parents and staff that we would no longer be doing themes. We would create centers to mirror the Multiple Intelligences and we would focus on one intelligence each month. A whole month devoted to science, math, music etc!  It was an amazing time in my career.  When we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle we not only read the book but we actually left the teacher book out for the children to touch and read! Very daring back then. We touched the flannel board pieces, we put the Very Hungry Caterpillar puzzle together. We brought in caterpillars and watched them turn into butterflies. We created tissue paper art just like Eric Carle and one year I gave each student  one page of the book to recreate. What happened in that classroom was magical.  The book the students created was outstanding and I still have and treasure it. We copied the book and mailed it to Eric Carle. We received the most amazing letter back from him. The face of every child in that class came alive as they understood that the author was a real human being who was alive and well and had written us a letter thanking us for writing the book and sending it to him. Lifelong readers were created in that classroom. I am sure of it.

Multiple Intelligences is the perfect companion tool for emergent curriculum.  If the theme that month is Musical Intelligence the teacher and students can collaborate on creating the lesson plan by the teacher asking key questions: What do you already know about music? What would you like to know? How do you think we can get that information?  Also by asking whose family members play an instrument, what type of instrument, and can they come play for us?  This is an opportunity to let the children listen to all types of music. These types of discussions certainly increase language development but more importantly they place the power of learning in the lap of the student thus creating a drive to learn as well as a sense of empowerment and curiosity. The students will experience positive self-esteem, they will learn to collaborate and share ideas and they will learn they do not have to have all the answers they just need to know where to go to get the answers.

If you are still using themes, if you still have a shelf with teacher only books and still feel pressured to do everything on your lesson plans then it is time to spend some time in reflection. What is it you want to teach the children and what are the best practices to meet those goals?

What can you do this school year to get out of the same “box” you have been in for year after year? What can you do to inspire creativity, build self-esteem and get students reading and starting to think about living in community? What can you do this year to support higher level thinking in the children in your class? 

Professional Development is a continuum of learning and support activities designed to prepare individuals for work with and on behalf of young children and their families, as well as ongoing experiences to enhance this work. These opportunities lead to improvements in the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions of early childhood professionals. Our social Meet-Ups combine exciting new information, friendship, and interaction to create a fun and engaging way to connect with your field and your peers.
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