Templates or not ??In this day and age childcare has evolved quite a bit. Some things for the better - something's I am not so sure of.
We went through a stage of eliminating all the risk and while I can see some people are slowly changing to incorporate this educators are still held back by scheme and centre policies.
Another thing in recent times and I myself have copped flack for this is the use of templates or black line masters as some of you might know them. Some schemes and childcare centres frown upon these tools and exclude the use of them. well like I have said before and will say again, it's all about balance.
Do I think that children should only be taught from templates? NO!
Do I think educators/children should use and have access to templates? YES
WHY?? Here is my answer.
Free play and design art is a wonderful experience, allowing children to discover and create through exploring different materials is definitely a wonderful process but I believe it is also our job as educators to teach, to show by example how to create and do something specific and I believe this process is also IMPORTANT. - after all we don't give someone a car license without training and teaching them, or the materials to build a house and say have a go build me a house.
Everything we do in life requires training and a certain amount of structure- templates fall into that category. They are a teaching tool, an example for children to learn from and develop skills which they will be able to take and adapt from one project to another. Through the use of templates and structured activities children can develop specific skills and learn that sometimes product is just as important as process. Skills like colouring inside the lines, writing letters and words are all developed with the help of templates or BLM. I know there are many who might disagree but we are building little people who need to learn balance. By promoting the use of these templates, I also don't think we should take away choice or individuality. I do think it is sad when you see a class room full of the same project that all looks exactly the same. I think when it comes to specific project work where a set of instructions or a process is followed I think choice and personalities should still shine through. Example making a Mother's day photo frame, children can choose decorating items, colours etc. everyone is still making a photo frame but the look can still be as individual as they are.
More specific still take our art pack 4 flowers - this pack contains - flower pieces - buttons - vine templates. The basis of the pack is to count to 4, make a sheet with 4 flowers on it. Now where the children put their flowers - is their choice - how they build their flowers, draw, stick on, multilevel flowers, big or small flowers - their choice - the colours they choose - their choice and while each child will make a sheet with 4 flowers using a template, creativity and individuality is still supported while learning and following instruction and creating something specific is still being achieved.
Even after doing this you might find children like extending this themselves with free collage, by making and drawing lots of collage flowers - which they may even count or ask you too.
Each time we develop a pack we take into consideration all these things.
We look at what learning is occurring or what learning we would like to be achieved.
-How can we do that while supporting choice creativity and a child's individuality.
- How can we help cement this learning through different types of visual, kinaesthetic, audio etc
-How can we make this easy for the educator/parent so they have time to converse and support children's learning instead of looking for materials or trying to cut everything out.
Myself as an adult use templates everyday, I love colouring, designing and I LOVE creating but without the knowledge and experience I have gained throughout my everyday life, I would not be able to do what I do today. Instructions, specific process, products all form a part of every persons life, so why exclude this from the next generations early years learning preparation?