Program of the Month: February 2016
The REAL Program
Welcome to Outdoor Classrooms Community Program of the Month. From backyards to schoolyards, we want to find not only Outdoor Classrooms and Children’s Gardens but also Community Programs that are cultivating wonder, curiosity and playful learning. Our February Spotlight Program is The REAL Program in Lynn, Massachusetts. I would like to welcome and introduce, Founder and Executive Director, Jan Plourde. Jan wears many hats. She is also an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at North Shore Community College & Director of Developmental Teaching, LLC. She is here today to share a guest post she calls THE ROSE.
by Jan Plourde, M. Ed.
This post is dedicated to one of my great mentors, Rose Merenda
My mind is working on lesson plans for the courses I #teach in early childhood education; for teaching and mentoring students at The REAL Program and on the organization and publicity about bringing sculptor Nancy Schon to this year’s teacher training day at the REAL Legacy Institute of Early Childhood Educators held on March 12th at the Riverside School, Danvers, MA. Join us: The Real Program.
In many ways I love the start of a new semester to try out new strategies that I have collected in my experiences in teaching, mentoring, and managing in education, business and my personal life. I am always inspired by the energy and hope of my students; most of them have fierce determination to succeed despite obstacles the likes of which I have only recently experienced in my world. This is the first blog post in this series. It is intended to be reflective and I welcome you to reflect with me. I learned this practice from one of my mentors, Rose Merenda of the Henry Barnard School in Rhode Island. This blog is dedicated to Rose and I will simply call it THE ROSE!
I have been incredibly lucky to experience the opportunities to learn and teach from people like Rose Merenda who spearheaded the concept of literacy book bags in her community. These are simply children’s books with an accompanying companion extension tool (sometimes a puzzle, a game, a stuffed animal or a puppet) and a journal that the child takes home from school to share this literature at home. The adult and the child are intended to read the book together, play with the accompanying activity or product, and write a little something about the experience in the journal. All of this goes back to school the next day for another child/family to share and the result is a tremendous literacy-building, community-building experience for the child and their family; for the class; for the community; and it all started as a seed of an idea that Rose planted, cultivated and harvested over more than 40 years. Imagine how that experience impacted so many children years ago and how children’s books are essential to the beginning of building a literate society.
In this short, cold month of February in New England I urge you to plant the seeds you wish to cultivate and harvest whether it be a traditional garden; a literacy garden (as I would characterize Rose’s) or whatever you choose.
The REAL Program plants, cultivates and harvests literacy every day: The REAL Program
At the Lynn, MA Public Library
Bag of Books