I was helping in my grandchildren’s classrooms recently and was struck by the thought of how easily children will take control of their learning if given a chance. One of the components of the HighScope curriculum, which I think is the most child-friendly approach to early learning, gives the child an opportunity each day to plan what she is going to accomplish within the guidelines of what is happening the classroom. This opportunity to plan gives the child control of her learning and gives her a stronger sense of direction and purpose for the play and learning of the day. I was assigned to help a kindergarten class make skeletons out of macaroni. Although I did not have the opportunity to allow the children to plan everything they might do for the day, I decided to allow as much planning as possible. I was given directions for a skeleton project, but decided to allow each child the opportunity to plan how to complete the project. What great ideas they each had! I was again reminded about allowing the child to take control of the project and not get caught up in the directions that we adults may want to give. After all, it should be her project, not a copy of what the teacher wants to see. That is how I learned that penne pasta makes pretty good ribs on a skeleton.
Manager of Educational Programs, Excelligence Learning Corporation
University Clinical Instructor
Credentials and Accolades:
M.Ed., Early Childhood Education
1996 Utah Teacher of the Year
1998-1999 President, Utah AEYC
2011 Outstanding Teaching Award, University of Utah
John Funk has worked in early childhood since 1979. He taught preschool, 1st and 2nd grades and kindergarten. He worked as an early childhood specialist for a large school district and managed early childhood services for Salt Lake CAP Head Start. He is past president of the Utah AEYC. As an early childhood, reading, and literacy consultant for the last decade, he has written on early childhood subjects and products for McGraw Hill and Leap Frog. He served on the editorial panel for Young Children magazine published by NAEYC.
Currently, John is the Manager of Educational Programs for Excelligence Learning Corporation, and he teaches courses in early childhood, children’s literature, classroom management, reading methods and supervises student teachers at the University of Utah.