Q: Dear Bryn,
I attended The Son-Rise Program Start-Up at the end of September 1999 as a volunteer. The child I am working with is now 6, and doing incredibly well. I know that The Son-Rise Program advises parents to keep their children out of school. However, I am currently going through my pre-student teaching work and would like some ideas on how I can implement aspects of The Son-Rise Program into my own classroom.
A: Dear Kattie,
I am very excited that the family you have been volunteering with is doing so well with their son, how special that you could be a part of that and donate your time and caring to help a little boy. Thank you for supporting them in that way.
You ask a wonderful question! In most cases (although not all) if a parent asks us which do we feel would be more helpful, the school setting, or a home-based, child-centered Son-Rise Program which could offer focused one-to-one support, with the parents as the guide...we would advise that they do the latter. At the same time, there are many parents who choose not to take their children out of school and still feel that the amount that they put The Son-Rise Program into practice - after school - still offers powerful and sustaining benefits to their family.
In your circumstance, you will be working in school with children and I can offer suggestions on how to make this environment as helpful to these children as possible. Firstly, you could ask your school to provide a room in which you could create a modified Son-Rise Playroom (for more information please click the link or see your manual from the program to create all aspects). Numerous teachers have been able to arrange this with their school system. In this way, you could perhaps rotate taking different children into that space each day, or week, and working with them using our approach. You could also explore the possibilities with the head teacher, of making the larger classroom less distracting - simplifying the walls, sounds etc. to minimize distractions and perhaps help the children to focus on you and what you are offering. You could also, when you must do “group” activities, create activities that focus more on socialization and eye contact, rather than academics, as a way to give the children an opportunity, with your help, to connect with each other. For example: You could have an eye contact contest: put them in pairs and see who can look the longest! You could play games which involve holding hands, sharing toys etc., vs. games that involve learning letters or singing songs. In this way, you could keep your focus, and therefore each child’s focus, on interacting with each other.
My husband and I have been running a Son-Rise Program for our daughter for two and half years and it has been fantastic! One thing we have done recently is to purchase numerous books (you would probably have these available to you at school) which have kindergarten games in them. We then modify these games, making them more focused on interaction, and then bring them to our daughter..and it is SO useful to do this! You could take lesson plans and look at them creatively and make them more interactive. For example: We created a game where we wrote the letters A-G on a large strip of paper and then put stickers on different items in the room which began with these letters. We then had our daughter try to find the items that began with each letter, offering her our help - asking her to look and we would help her to sound out the words, offering her colorful stickers to put on her face etc. when she was able to find the correct word. We created the game so that each time we went to a new letter, we would hold hands and look at each other and do a dance about how great it was to learn letters. In this way, we changed a purely academic activity (i.e. What word starts with A?) and modified it to create a socially interactive activity that ALSO teaches the alphabet. You can do this too!
Good luck and thank you again for this excellent question!
Bryn N. Hogan