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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 Movement and Play


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.

Last modified on

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


“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


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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Posted by on in Early Childhood


Ask any teacher about the challenges of the classroom, and somewhere near the top of that list will be getting children to listen. Particularly in the early childhood classroom, we’re not only working with all the competing stimuli around us (squirrel!) but also with impulse control and other executive functions that are in the early stages of development. With so many factors working against you, getting a room full of young children to listen can be quite the challenge.

But there are also things we do as we speak to children that may increase or lessen the likelihood that children will actually be listening.  Here are 6 ways we may be unintentionally telling children NOT to listen, and how to correct that:

1. Making it Sound Optional

Sometimes we give a direction, but present it as a choice. “Should we sing that song again?” “Help us pick up the blocks, OK?” In our adult world we know the subtleties that imply that these aren’t really optional, but that’s all lost on young children. Adults often give what they believe are polite directions, only to be met with a polite, “No, thank you.” So make directions...well...direct.

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