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Posted by on in What If?

outdoor learning 1024x683

When we think about young children and the outdoors, we tend to associate the two with playing, or perhaps with the opportunity for kids to get the wiggles out. Maybe we even think of it in terms of break time for the teacher. But in a discussion for Studentcentricity, guests Heidi Veal and Ruth Wilson, author of Learning Is in Bloom: Cultivating Outdoor Explorations, talked with me about why and how teachers should take learning outdoors.

Following our talk, Heidi contributed these additional thoughts:

Both young and old often find inspiration when outdoors. Learning literally comes ALIVE in nature! Outdoor learning experiences spark wonder & communication, inspire students to create novel learning connections, and give children opportunities to extend their learning beyond the traditional four walls of a classroom. Multi-sensory learning experiences, understanding and respect of nature, and broadened perspectives are additional benefits of outdoor learning. I urge all educators to treat the outdoors as an extension of their classrooms if only for the single reason that learning outside provides numerous learning opportunities that simply cannot be provided inside. My advice to educators is this, don’t wait! Go outside and learn with your students today! Take a nature walk, identify sounds outside, observe the sky, grow something, hunt for natural patterns, discover organic treasures. Give your students opportunities to explore, ask, and make connections with their amazing world beyond your school’s doorsteps. Your students will thank you! If you are inspired to discover more about outdoor learning experiences in early childhood education, check out the 4/19/16 archive of #ECEchat on this exact topic.  

And Ruth offered these reasons why it’s important for children to experience nature!:

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Posted by on in What If?

preschool behavior

You plan your activities and lessons to be as exciting, fun, and meaningful as possible. And when most of the children engage in them, you feel a sense of pride and success! But what about those kids who simply don’t want to participate? Have you failed, or is there something going on with the kids themselves? Should you force them to participate? Allow them to sit on the sidelines?

Those are among the questions I asked of Heather Shumaker, author of It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, which includes an entire chapter on this topic, and early childhood expert Amanda Morgan in an episode of Studentcentricity.

Following taping, Heather had this to add:

If a child doesn't want to participate in what the group is doing, don't panic. All behavior has meaning. Respect the child, but respect the group, too. That means the child has the right not to join in, as long as her actions don't disrupt the group's activity. Protect the rights of both. Young children do a lot of learning through observation, or they may be dealing with fears or other social learning.

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Posted by on in What If?

happy teens

If so, you’ll definitely want to listen to my discussion with Denise Pope and Sandra Russ, in which they explain the role of play in the lives of tweens and teens! As Denise says, “Research shows that kids of all ages need daily play time, down time, and family time.” 

And, no, they’re not talking about organized sports or playing video or computer games.

Here are her suggestions:

- Parents should avoid overscheduling their teen with too many extracurricular activities and too many AP or honors courses. Use the Challenge Success time management tool to help plan a healthy schedule with adequate time for play and sleep. http://www.challengesuccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ChallengeSuccess-TimeManagementWorksheet.pdf

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Posted by on in What If?

students raising hands2

Do you find yourself teaching in the way you were taught as a kid – lecturing from the front of the classroom, occasionally pausing to ask a question and point to a child whose hand is raised? Would you like to move beyond that? Or have you already moved beyond that traditional teaching practice but are looking for ways to ask questions that promote deeper thinking and offer more authentic assessment.

Sarah Johnson and Ben Johnson (no relation!) have some advice for you, below, and in an episode of Studentcentricity, which you can listen to here.

From Sarah:

When thinking about questioning strategies in the classroom, I always come back to the reality that the power to evoke critical thinking lies more in the question than the answer. This is because we often stop processing the matter once we have settled on a "right" answer. Because of this, I find that divergent questions, or questions that can have more than one response, are better able to spark critical thinking in students and invite them to start asking their own questions, which is what ultimately trains them to be lifelong learners themselves. True learning takes place when students learn how to not only answer questions but create their own, as that sparks curiosity and a pursuit of knowledge.

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Posted by on in What If?

adult and child reading

If you’re an early childhood professional chances are good that you’ve experienced parents who are anxious to give their child a “jumpstart” on learning. Chances are also good that you’ve met with parents who believe the best way to do that is with such things as flashcards and computer software that promises its young users will become instantly smarter.

It’s natural that you would be anxious to please the parents of your students. But you know that flashcards and drill-and-kill software aren’t the way to go. That they’re not developmentally appropriate. But how to convince parents of that?

Boosting Brain Power2

To address this topic, I invited two “brain ladies” to speak with me on a Gryphon House-sponsored episode of Studentcentricity. Jill Stamm and Deborah McNelis shared their thoughts – not only offering advice on how to boost brain power in developmentally appropriate ways but also on how to best get the message across to parents.

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