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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Child Development
Posted by on in What If?

girl on monkey bars 500x250

How many times do you imagine a child hears an adult say, “Be careful!”? I suspect it’s a close second to them hearing, “No!” And, if it’s a female child, it may be the number-one phrase coming at them, as studies have shown that girls are cautioned far more often than boys.

This, of course, is a clear and persistent message that one shouldn’t take too many risks. That there are far too many hazards in the world. So, children learn to “stay safe.” They learn to fear.

But outright cautions aren’t the only way in which children are receiving those messages. When a school takes away all traditional playground equipment and replaces it with safe, sanitized (read: boring) plastic, they don’t need to hear the concern spoken aloud to get the message. When a school bans tag or cartwheels, children learn that it’s safer to be sedentary than physically active. When children aren’t allowed to walk – or do much of anything, really – alone, the not-so-subliminal message is that they need to be protected…from everything.

Our society – and its 24-hour news cycles – have generated so much fear that if parents and educators could literally bubble-wrap kids, I believe they would. But, as Lenore Skenazy repeatedly points out, we’re prioritizing fear over facts! She reported just last week that another school has banned cartwheels on the playground – not because there have been any injuries from cartwheels, but because the potential for injuries exists! (Does that mean we should no longer let children ride in cars?)

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

If we look back in history, children were once taught by sitting alongside those who were skilled at something, participating in active learning. This type of pedagogy was aligned more closely with the nature of young children.

apprentice

They are, after all, born learners. They may be easily distracted and unpredictable and diverse, but they all have a natural drive to investigate, unravel mysteries, process information, and try out new ideas… the very things that move our human species ahead.

As time went on, however, an education system was created to feed the needs of the industrial age and children were taught a narrow set of skills. They were moved through the system like raw materials in a manufacturing process… pushing them towards an expected end product.

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Posted by on in What If?

Recently I had the unique experience of being interviewed by a middle school student. Jacob had found me on the Internet because he was researching recess and wanted to ask some questions for his project.

Of course, recess is one of my favorite topics so I agreed to give him some time. What I didn’t know until we were on the phone was the reason behind his project.

It seems he and a friend (a student with special needs) had had a small incident on the playground during the 10 minutes or so they get to hang out after lunch. As a result, not only have he and his friend been denied recess, but the whole school is having it withheld!

I was momentarily rendered speechless (a rare occurrence indeed) – and I’m still beyond stunned. I mean, what the hell? How could any administrator/decision maker believe that that’s an appropriate reaction? That this is a logical consequence?

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

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When I get the chance to speak to groups about DAP I cover a lot of ground.

I talk about things like:

The importance of respecting childhood, the developmental process, and individual learners.

The critical nature of appropriate, foundational early learning experiences.

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Posted by on in General

Brito-pic.jpg

The measure of a school's worth is directly associated with the quantity and quality of the connections between the adults and the children who share the building on a daily basis. Students are more likely to flourish as learners when they know they are appreciated, supported, and loved by the teachers and other staff members they encounter on campus.

It is our job to provide that type of structure for the kids in our classrooms. But we also share the immense responsibility of being there for ALL of the school's children. The adage, "it takes a village," is indeed true as the success of students will exponentially increase with each added strand of support woven into their emotional web.

Sometimes all it takes is a quick acknowledgement on the sidewalk - a "hello," a "have a good day," even an "are you okay?" Such a connection might be the only adult interaction in a child's day. Every moment counts! Talk to your kids in line for lunch, on the playground, on the sidewalk as they leave for home at the end of the day...

As a principal, I noticed one day a student and a teacher walking toward each other on the sidewalk. The teacher said nothing at all. Later that day, I made sure that the staff understood that the expectation was for staff members to make the first move in greeting ALL children - whether they knew them or not. Most kids have yet to fully master that social skill. Some may even keep on walking without responding to your greeting. But at least they know that someone noticed them. Such a small show of interest could greatly redirect the trajectory of that child's emotional well-being for the day - and perhaps for the year.

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