Bev Bos

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M:Whenever I travel and meet with early childhood educators and mention Bev Bos a light goes on. She is a legend and an inspiration. And it's wonderful to have her with us. Bev you have been working with parents and children or almost forth years. Let's begin by talking about parents. What do they really want for their children?

B: Parents want to know what’s really right for their children, how they grow. I think we may have a whole generation of parents who actually missed their childhood so they don’t understand. I have a good friend who says that we are all under a spell, we’re under a spell of how we were raised and what our parents did. A spell isn’t intellectual; it just means that we come with that stuff. Some of it was really good. My parents did the very best job that they could with the knowledge that they had.

M: OK, when we talk about early childhood development, what are the basics?

B: People talk about reading, writing and arithmetic being the basics. Those are very complex processes and they have to be based on the basics, you have to have the basics first, then you can do what people call the basics. The number one basic for everyone on this planet is wonder. Children are born with it. You have to product the toddler from themselves they’re so filled with wonder. Wanting to know everything on this planet. It’s here. It’s a thing that we have to keep alive that we don’t. I’m stunned when I travel, when I watch people, not to be curious about everything that there is. 

When we’re in airports traveling I watch kids, just watch them. They’re fascinating to watch. Everything in the airport. You watch a kid push a stroller. We watch kids. Ride on the walking sidewalk. Riding backwards on it. Wondering if they can go fast enough to do that. The wonder of everything. 

My 2 year old grandson, every minute of the day he’s looking for the moon. He hasn’t figured out that it’s only a particular time of the day that he can see it yet, but looking at the moon. He also calls a moo-moo is the rainbow. He’s always looking for the rainbow because he saw one once. That wonder of everything and being given the time and the opportunity to do that. Then, the second basic is discovery. Understanding that everybody has the right to discover things for themselves.

I have a wonderful story about a little girl in our school. They invited me to their home for dinner. It was a cold, kind of wintery night for California. And I went up there, I knocked on the door, she opened the door and as she said hello she saw her breath and her eyes got really, really big and she shut the door. Then she opened it again. Then she shut the door. Then she opened it again. (Whoo, whoo, whoo). That discovery, those details in every child’s life. Discovering a grain of sand. What wet sand can do. Water, the flow. 

The experiences have to be real and they have to be authentic. It can’t be a video, it has to be real. So the second one is discovering everything on your own. I always think imagine trying to discover how to ride a bike on a video. You have to do it yourself. Imagine iff your first experience with apple is the word in a book, not seeing that long thing that your grandmother could peel off all in one. Not tasting it. Not smelling it. Not knowing it can be juiced. Imagine your first experience with an orange if it was only a word. And we do that sometimes to children. We show those things on videos. We do all sorts of things on videos.

They have CD Roms now of mixing playdough. At our school, the discovery is if you take flour and salt and water, you can mix and mix and mix. We start with a hundred pounds of flour and a hundred pounds of salt and just pitchers of water. A dad said to me one day as he’s watching the kids mixing and mixing and mixing. He said do you think they’re ever going to get anything that looks remotely like playdough? I said I don’t know but I know they’re not doing this any place else. They’ve got to see this solids turn to liquids, the graininess and then adding color.

M: When you look around your school what are the most important things you look for?

B: It’s experience. Experiences to attach words to. Your own experiences to attach words to. Experience is not the best teacher. It’s the only teacher. I always think too, as you get older you take driving lessons and you have to take so many before you can drive. You also take the written test. And oh boy, you get to drive a car. And then you get out on the road and you know what’s real. You probably ding a fender and you probably do this. You aim the car for the first couple months and then you get a sense what it’s really about. You have a couple close calls. So it’s experiences to attach words to. What we have to make sure of is that the experience is appropriate for the age.