Projects of Understanding
Projects of Understanding document the ability to apply the understandings gained in the Talking Informatively investigations to interactions with children. Each participant must demonstrate the ability to positively influence the life of a child or the actions of a group of children. This is authentic assessment, just as driving a car is a performance required to get a driver’s license.
Recorded Dialogue by Kathy Fletcher
All adult statements are informative:
Tali: “Those are two cars in that garage.”
Kathy: “Those are called Cadillacs.”
Tali: “There’s a blue one and a gray one.”
Queen: “You can have the grey one, and I’ll have the blue one.”
Kathy: “I am with you, Queen. I like blue. That’s the color of my car.”
Queen: “Where is your car?”
Kathy: “It’s parked next to your school. I’ll show you when we get back from the gym.”
Tali: “We don’t have a car now because it’s broke down.”
Kathy: “That happens to me sometimes, and I have to ride the bus.”
Tali: “We have to walk everywhere.”
Kathy: “You must have gotten wet this morning walking to school in this rain.”
Tali: “No, because I have a hood on my jacket.”
Queen: “I wore my boots today.”
Kathy: “That was smart. I wore sandals and got my feet wet.”
Kathy: “OK, Sophie, I am going to give you a big push.”
Sophie smiles and holds on.
Kathy: “Look at you! Look how high up you are.”
Sophie smiles more broadly.
Kathy: “You can feel the sun and the breeze on your face. It feels good.”
Kathy: “OK. Here you go, up there with the clouds and the birdies.”
Sophie: “Birdies. More!”
Kathy: “Sophie, I’m going to stop you for a couple of minutes to put Lie Lie in the swing with you. You will have to scoot up a little bit.”
Sophie: “Push! Push!”
Kathy: “OK. But I am going to push slower now since the baby is with you.”
A Book for Parents About Leaving the Child Care Center by Judith Geil
Letter to Parents by Juju Yen
I am glad that you told me you encourage yourself to try those tips with your child and felt that improvements have happened in your family. This task is designed for us, as parents, caregivers, or any adult, how to educate ourselves in order to talk or answer questions informatively with the children around us without giving any direction.
I understand it may be hard for us, who form a culture that children have to obey parents no matter what. However, as we told about the experiences that we both had when we were younger, those impacts still follow us even now. We become dependent because we are used to having adults make decisions for us, since there is no way we could refuse. We lose our imaginations because adults used to treat us as “babies”, talk with “baby talk”, and give few respects. I believe that’s not what we expect to give our children.
There are lots of things we can do to help our children by becoming informative conversationalists about their experience. We have to be aware of the habits we have of telling children what to do. We can reduce unnecessary directions to them. We can encourage ourselves to use non-demanding ways: descriptive cues, subjective talk, descriptions, and expansions when we talk to our children.
It is our behavior and attitude that needs to change, not just our language. Children learn everything from watching and hearing others around them. We can take advantage of this by giving no directions and talking informatively to our children and thereby enrich both ourselves and our children’s experience.
Poster by Sage D’Aquila Kleinhanz, Nanny
After using Talking Informatively just a few times, I realized what a valuable tool this was and decided to implement it fully. I noticed that when I spoke to the children with facts and gave them choices instead of demands, the children became active participants in the process. They liked having some control, so the need for my demands decreased.
Before: “James, get dressed please.” After: “We need clothes on to go to the zoo.”
Before: “We’ve gotta go now, guys.” After: “The wading pool opens in 10 minutes. It takes us ten minutes to drive there.”
Before: “We can’t go to the park today.” After: “Let’s look outside. There are clouds and they look pretty dark. I remember the last time we went to the park on a day like this, we were all pretty cold.”
Before: “Abby, find your shoes.” After: “OK, Abby. You look dressed and ready to go, but something is missing.”
Before: “James, you need to eat your sandwich.” After: “Here’s the sandwich you helped make. You chose peanut butter and jelly.”
I start to have morning meetings with the kids. I arrive at work and, after settling in, I call our meeting. I talk about what we have planned for the day and if we don’t have plans, we all decide together what we should do. Instead of saying no, I discuss with them the pros and cons of that suggestion. After we decide where and what we are going to do for the day, we talk about what we need to do to get ready.
The children were cooperative because they had a say in what was going on. They knew what to expect and were contributing to our day. We began to work as a team.