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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in developmentally appropriate learning
Posted by on in Early Childhood

You know, it’s really hard nowadays for a child to simply be a child. There’s so much pressure to perform academically, that Kindergarten has become the new first grade and preschool has become the new Kindergarten.

Parents get caught up in the frenzy, worried that their children will be “behind” by the time they get to Kindergarten. They don’t realize there is a simple solution to it all… PLAY.

To those of us who are early childhood educators, this is no surprise. But for others, and even some well-intentioned teachers, there is a flawed mindset that play and academics are unrelated and that one must take a backseat to the other.

It is this kind of thinking that is not only taking the fun out of childhood, but also interfering with learning.

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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 Education Leadership

 

Summer. A time to rest, relax, rejuvenate, reflect and plan. Before we know it, school bells will ring and here we go again. Tonight I'm writing from head and heart, hoping to inspire you to take a giant leap forward in your school and life. 

 Make it happen. Just do it. Kinders are fearless. Why aren't we? What are we waiting for?

At what point do we learn to swim and let go of our floaties? At what point do we simply take the leap of faith and dive in? Full immersion, probably the best way to learn anything. Just do it.

I've spent several hours lately at the local recreation center, watching the kids' swim classes. Newly five is learning to swim. She comes from a family of champion swimmers, except me. Class size is perfect, only four or five kiddos.

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Posted by on in School Culture

SOON

My husband, who was a math major in college, received this text from our daughter, who is a veterinarian with strong math skills: "If dad is bored, he can think of a word with uppercase letters that has 5 acute angles, 2 obtuse angles and 5 right angles." This is her third grade daughter's homework. It took my husband twenty minutes to come up with LANE. My daughter also thought of VALVE. But here's the point. It was a child's homework assignment and there was no way she could ever have done it herself.

My fourth-grade granddaughter recently asked me what I was thinking to write for my next blog post. She has strong opinions and great suggestions, so I turned the question back to her, and she told me that even with an excellent and innovative teacher that she loves, it is hard to stay focused on the work all day. She shared that sometimes her orchestra music plays in her head when she is supposed to be listening. Many of her friends need balloons filled with material that makes them squishy or balls of play dough to keep them from feeling bored and frustrated. I think we grownups would call those objects stress relievers. This is for nine-year-olds.

But if we really want to see the state of education and what we have done to our young children in school, let's go back to the beginning. I recently led a discussion for parents whose children will start public school kindergarten this fall. I tried to walk a fine line between reassuring them and making them aware of inappropriate practices so they could advocate for all children, including their own.

I cautioned parents that the latest research supports that kindergarten is definitely the new first grade and its goal was to produce readers, regardless of whether children were developmentally ready or not. In the end, however, I encouraged the parents to attend the kindergarten orientation meeting at their local school to form their own opinions.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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“When we change one part of the chemical formula, we change the nature of the results” - Stephen R. Covey

Sometimes the best part to change is YOU.

Last week, my students and all other chemistry students at my high school, took the stoichiometry test (the “stork llama tree” test according to my iPhone’s voice recognition :) and, as it happens every year, many did not complete all of the calculations, thus the test, in the time allotted for it.

In our PLC meeting the next day, we (a pentagon of chemistry teachers) discussed how to handle this and opinions were divided. Two of us were willing to give students more time to finish. The other three chose to be hard asses. What I have decided to do, is to let my students finish the test, and if it took another hour to complete I was going to be a-okay with that. What can I say: I’m cool right?

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