Carolyn C. Smith
Various forms of popular culture serve to educate and socialize as well as influence human behavior. In a discipline such as criminal justice, little is known by the general public about the individuals involved with the system: the law enforcer, the victim, and the offender. Therefore, the construction of reality for most is likely to come from media representations. Depending on the city, state, and reporter, the message can be damaging to individuals. Our children need to be taught at a very early age the appropriate behavior which would keep them from the criminal menaces of society. Teaching them this behavior is not enough, we must make sure that they are constantly utilizing the appropriate behavior.
Problem solving techniques are an intricate part of our daily lives. They can provide children with a focus for learning through play especially if they are done during group time activities. It is a way teachers introduce children to the world of creative and critical thinking, both as individuals and as part of a group. Problem solving can create and encourage cooperation because it teaches children to learn to hear and support each other’s ideas.
Problem solving is a process of identifying a problem or goal, generating ideas to solve or reach it, then testing out the ideas. Listed below are several steps to guide children through the process, though not every problem follows these steps exactly or has a definite solution.
1. Define the problem. Use open-ended questions to encourage children to talk about what they are doing, thinking or feeling. When children can’t verbalize the problem clearly, they should be helped to find a few key words, and build from there.
2. Brainstorm solutions. Instead of finding one ‘right‘ answer to a question or problem, it is important for children to think of several options. Open-ended questions such as, ‘What’s another way you can do this?‘ or ‘What would happen if we tried a different way?‘ encourage children to expand their thinking. Remember brainstorming is to be used for coming up with many possible solutions, not to evaluate the solutions.
3. Decide where to start. After brainstorming, choose which ideas to test. It’s important to remember that problem solving is a fluid process. We often think of one thing to try, then reshape it, modify it, or abandon it altogether in order to try something new. It’s not important to stick to the original plan.
4. Select or create tools. During this step it is important to decide what is needed in order to try out the solutions. If the problem is a conflict between people, words can be carefully used as the best tools to solve the conflict.
5. Experiment with solutions. This step in the problem solving process teaches the students a sense of independent that they will gain from testing their ideas. When acknowledging all ideas as experiments, it reinforces the idea that problem solving is a process.
These five steps to successful problem solving skills should be used as frequently as possible whenever a conflict arises so that they become a part of the students’ daily routine. These techniques are the right avenue to avoid becoming a part of the criminal justice system.
Things are changing. There are more and more children from various cultural backgrounds entering early childhood programs. During the 1990’s it is expected that more than 8.5 million immigrants will enter this country. They are coming primarily from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean Islands. Immigration from Eastern Europe and the countries that were once part of the Soviet Union is also increasing. What does this diversity mean to our children?
All of our children will grow up in a world in which people from many different cultures live and work together. Early childhood is the best time to prepare children for this world by helping them learn in positive ways about difference in language, appearance, customs, and abilities. This understanding helps children build an appreciation of others, and support social and communication skills that will be important to them later in life.
When there is a diverse microcosm of the would in the classroom, we can readily foster respect and appreciation for many kinds of people by exploring each child’s language and culture.
We must always seek to give all young children the best start in life. We must establish goals that will help build an appreciation of diversity. Listed below are some basic goals that good childhood programs can strive for.
1. foster positive self-concept
2. enhance language development
3. support social, emotional, cognitive, and motor development
4. develop creative expression
5. foster respect for cultural, family, and economic diversity, and individual differences.
6. enhance language development in children’s home language and lay the foundation for the development of a second language.
Our young children are vulnerable and victims to some of the negative actions of our society. While they are in the process of discovering who they are, we must do all that we can to make them feel good about themselves. In the process of giving all children the benefits of diversity, we must also let them know about CHILDREN’S RIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD. We must let them know about the international legal standards for children’s rights which include: 1) the right to food, shelter, and essential health care; 2) the right to a free and compulsory primary education; 3) the right to leisure, play, and participation in cultural and artistic activities, and 4) the right to special care if disabilities exist.
These basic rights allow the student to begin to process what is to be expected later in life as they are presented with the amendments of the constitution. Teaching students the GOLDEN RULE, Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you‘, is most important early in life. Perhaps this would reduce their chances of becoming a part of the statistics of the criminal justice system.
Parents are the links to the community. The community is an essential component in the lives of parents and young children; therefore, can and should play a vital role in the life of any program dealing with the development of students. It is important to learn about the communities that the school serves and visa versa. Parents can provide the link to understanding the community and helping to access its resources.
Every community is different because each reflects the ethnic and cultural traditions of its families. It’s important to talk with parents and children about their experiences in relationship to the community. This enables you as the teacher to see through their eyes and draw on community resources that are meaningful to them.
Exploration of people and places within the community can provide excellent learning experiences for children, and opportunities to create curriculum with parents as partners. The big question is ‘How can we get parents and the community involved in the educational development of our children. Below are some ideas for working with parents and families to expand the role of community in the schools and classrooms.
Thinking about themes together: Keep parents informed of curriculum themes as soon as they develop so they have a chance to help gather information and contact related resources.
Parents as tour guides: Invite parents to accompany your group on community walks and serve as guides, sharing their knowledge of the area.
Finding Field Trips: Poll parents for suggested places in the community that children might visit on field trips. Invite interested parents to help make arrangements and accompany you on the trips.
The community in pictures: Seek parents to volunteer to photograph important places in the community and create a class community book. Place this book on display and allow other parents to add to it over time.
The way it used to be: Seek parents or other family members who grew up in the community to share pictures and stories with children about what it was like there when they were children.
Comparing communities: Invite parents and grandparents to share with children what it was like to grow up in very different communities. Discuss with children the similarities and differences to their own community.
The way we work: Encourage parents to bring in materials or to that they use in their jobs. Allow the students to interview parents about their work in the community. Be sure to be respectful of parents who work at home or may be unemployed.
Community prop boxes: Work with parents to collect props that represent important places and people in the community to use in the creative arts and dramatic play centers of the room.
Children’s community workers: Parents can invite their child’s pediatrician, dentist, favorite grocer, barber, etc. to come and talk with the class about their professions.
Resources for all: Ask parents to help create a master list of resources that includes what the community has to offer young children while in school and on the weekends or vacations. Be sure to include resources that are inexpensive or free. Share this information with all the families in the school.
Although this list is short, it is powerful. Children like to know that their parents are interested in what they are doing at school. Parents like to be ask to do things for their children as well as the school. The key action for all is building self-esteem as well as bridging the gap between parents, students, teachers, and school. This action has a large impact on the behavior of students. As we all know, a positive self-esteem does lower the tendency of negative behavior.