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Amanda Morgan, MS  @NotJustCute

Amanda Morgan, MS @NotJustCute

Amanda Morgan, MS, has nearly 20 years of experience teaching children, parents, and teachers in a variety of environments. She is a speaker and educator with degrees focused on early childhood education and child development, and currently writes at the blog, Not Just Cute
Posted by on in Early Childhood

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A few years ago, the Gesell Institute, named for developmental pioneer Dr. Arnold Gesell, decided to test the premise that kids today develop more quickly than they used to.  They took the developmental norms established by the work of Dr. Gesell in the 1940s and launched a three year study concluding in 2010 to gauge whether or not the same framework still holds up.  What they found, of course, is that even over the span of decades, the developmental norms remain the same.

(Read more about that study and the follow up interview with the director of the Gesell Institute, Dr. Marcy Guddemi.)

While there are many, many quotes from that study’s roll out that caught my attention, one that particularly made me think was when Dr. Guddemi responded to the question of why it may sometimes appear that children are capable of skills beyond their developmental level:

You can train them, but the knowledge and understanding—the true learning—has not happened.  Our country has this hang up that if the child can perform, that they know.”

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Posted by on in Movement and Play

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Quirky confession. 

When we moved to a new state and were trying to zero in on a place to land, I perused elementary school websites over and over to assess how much time they allowed for recess.  That was one of my first factors to compare.

It seems like a strange marker for school quality to many, but to me it signals an awareness of the needs of the whole child and not just a perspective of the student as a "disembodied mind".

I thought I might be the only mom with a funny hang up about recess.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

make believe

I noticed my 2 1/2 year old walking around the back yard the other day with a small rectangular rock nestled in the palm of his hand.  I watched him excitedly moved it around as he energetically bounded around the lawn, obviously in his own world.  I wondered where his imagination had taken him.  Then I heard the giveaway:  “Boop! Boop!”  He was holding the rock out, extending his arm toward a ride along car in the yard. “My boop-boop!”  He said as he looked up with a huge grin of satisfaction, having clearly just set the alarm on his toy car with his own personal key fob.

I’ll admit that I was pretty excited too.  This type of symbolic play — where an object represents something else — may seem like inconsequential play to some, but it is actually a hallmark of pre-literacy.

Whenever a person reads, they’re scanning across a series of symbols.  Together, those symbols make words, and those words carry ideas.  But what we actually see or hold is very different that what is going on in our minds.  When children play pretend, they are making this same cerebral leap.  A block can be a phone.  A rag can be a baby.  A rock can be a key fob.

And marks on a page can be a story.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

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“We’re building a home up the street.”

It felt like a lie to give that explanation over and over to the strangers who had become our new neighbors, because for the longest time, the truth was that nothing was being built.

We went forward with a plan to build a new home in the new area we were moving to, an endeavor that the project manager estimated would be completely done by the end of September, only to be waiting for building permits until mid-October.

October.  The start of the rainy season.  And the rainy season is no joke here in the Pacific Northwest.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

myths

In 2005, Dr. Walter Gilliam, a researcher from Yale University, released a study examining the expulsion rates of preschoolers.  That's right -- expulsion.  As in kicked out.  Dr. Gilliam found that in his large, nationally representative sample of prekindergarten programs, preschoolers were being expelled at THREE TIMES the rate of students in grades K-12.

Are preschoolers really three times as difficult as their older counterparts?

I don't think so.

There are many factors that contribute to this elevated rate of expulsions.  Gilliam outlined several in a presentation he made at an NAEYC conference in 2009.  All deserve our consideration as we create quality early childhood programs, but two in particular catch my attention.

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