Hilltop's Blog

Building on the Wonders of Childhood

“Do you believe in Black Lives Matter?”

Students in Hilltop’s after-school program asked this question – of their teachers and their friends –  repeatedly this year. Mostly those inquiring were black students. They had heard about Black Lives Matter on the news, and noticed how educators and students in our local Seattle Public Schools were supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The kids wanted to support the movement too, and wanted to know how Black Lives Matter was supported at Hilltop. They took action one afternoon by making their own Black Lives Matter signs.

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Authentic Literacy Learning

The key to developing literacy is a love of reading that is best stimulated by frequent exposure to letters and books. Reading activities that are forced on children can transform a delight into work. It is best to follow a child’s lead in when, what, and how they want to engage with books and letters, while still offering them ample opportunities in various contexts.

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Reciprocal Influence

Each time a group of visitors comes to Hilltop, we get to hear their experiences, and their impressions of Hilltop, and we get a glimpse of ourselves through fresh eyes. We had a particularly poignant and revealing visit, recently, with a group of educators working in the Residential Parenting Program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.

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Mindful Toddlers

I don’t meditate, but I want to be the type of person that does. As a classroom teacher of three-year-olds, I’ve looked for ways to help the group calm down, connect with their bodies, and learn self-soothing skills. But how do I get a three-year-old to meditate, especially when I’m not a practitioner myself?

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Teaching and Learning in Communities of Practice

We encourage young children to work together, play with friends, negotiate, and collaborate. We believe that the best and most interesting learning happens when children are thinking together, challenging each others’ theories, and offering up new, sometimes conflicting, understandings. But what about the grownups? How can we encourage co-constructed learning for educators?

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Tube Confessions

A conversation shouted through a cardboard tube gets one of our educators thinking about the value of giving children space to make some noise. She suggests that a healthy classroom is noisy with children connecting, engaging, playing. Emotions are messy, and we want children to get in that mess, in order to practice skills like self-advocacy, social risk-taking, and honest communication.

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