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Posted by on in Early Childhood


Rain clouds and rainbows, every cloud offering "pennies from heaven". Lately we've been finding a lot of pennies. It definitely took some looking, as political storm clouds, snows, floods and other things dominated our conversations.

I feel like I'm just catching my breath, so much has been happening so fast.

Hope. Belief.

My late husband always told us he would leave pennies around to let us know he was our angel, and that's been happening a lot. I found one in my shoe the other day and my kids report similar experiences. What's weirder is I've been finding random pennies at school, too, some real and some fake from the cash register. So I'm taking this as a sign, despite some really rough things in the past weeks, the future is bright. 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

preschool math2

When we think about developing math and pre-math skills with preschool children, we usually imagine some explicit, teacher-directed activities that lead children to a correct answer. However, a lot of really significant math learning takes place within the context of classroom play, when teachers are talking with children about problems involving number, quantity, or size.

Young children are developmentally tuned-in to learn number sense in preschool. And, the more we talk with them about number, the more they learn. This can be done in just about any context.


During snack time:

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Posted by on in Early Childhood


I was once asked during a presentation for a parent’s group what it is that preschoolers need most to prepare them academically.

I’m sure some would have loved tips on building early readers or how to get a jump start on math skills (both important, to be sure), but what I really believe young children need goes beyond even those basic skills.

“Honestly,” I said, “if I had to pick one thing, it would be for them to simply keep their curiosity.  Everything else will follow.”

Passionately Curious

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

letter flashcards

It’s becoming more and more commonplace to see programs using flashcards and worksheets in their attempt to jumpstart literacy development. These early academic activities are touted as best approaches and provide tangible take-homes for anxious parents who don’t want their children to “get behind.”

Unfortunately, what’s really important to early literacy is largely being overlooked and the best opportunities to make learning matter are going unnoticed.

These programs need to stop the nonsense and expense of fancy and unnecessary academic curriculum. Instead, there needs to be a focus on just 5 things, using an approach that is age-appropriate, meaningful, and purposeful to young children.  Research tells us that these 5 are the best predictors of early literacy:

speaking to child

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

 Recently I finished the book Free to Learn by Peter Gray. This book was very thought-provoking, challenging some of my ideas and affirming others. One of those things that Peter Gray repeated in various ways is that play is freedom. He stressed the freedom to quit (to decide when to stop doing the activity). But I think that the freedom to use whatever resources are needed is important, too.

I'm a big advocate of children's creativity. I encourage children to follow their ideas and experiment with materials. And a few years ago, we adopted a "rule" to provide resources for a child when he asks for it, if possible. If a child asks me for tape or scissors (and those items are not already out in the room somewhere), I get them for him. I want to provide the tools he needs to explore and create at that moment.

Often in my room, scissors, glue sticks, and paper scraps are always available if needed. I found some of those magnetic locker "baskets" (cheap at the back-to-school sale) and attached them to my white board. Kids can use these items whenever they choose; the resources are always at hand. (Not a new idea, I know. But it was a new step for us.)

I worried that I would be cleaning up paper bits each week from overuse of scissors. However, kids only use them when they really need them...which is not very frequently. And when they are used, the results can be surprising and amusing.

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