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Posted by on in Early Childhood

On the flight home, I sat and recalled some of the delightful interactions I’d had over the past several days with my two grandsons. One in particular stood out. As I read the youngest a story for oh, probably the 15th time, we pretended to pluck up cookies, fruits, and other goodies off the pages and pretend to eat them. Later, he sat with the book, repeating this on his own. His older brother saw this and laughed. When I reminded him that he and I did the very same thing just a few years earlier, he had no recollection. It made me think about all the other precious games and little talks we’d had that were also lost and how the ones between his little brother and me would be forgotten, too.

When do we really begin to sock things away into our long-term memory? How far back in childhood can something be remembered? I often ask this question in my child development classes. Many will be quick to answer with an event from middle or high school. But then, I ask them to sit quietly a moment and really think back. One by one, earlier and earlier memories begin to surface- most of them not particularly clear, but memories nonetheless.

For the most part, though, no one, including myself, can remember anything much before age two. Hmmm.

There are a couple fascinating theories about why we have trouble remembering anything any earlier. One involves something called “infantile amnesia.” According to the theory, it isn’t until about 18 months that we begin to develop a sense of self- the understanding that we are separate beings from anyone or anything else. In addition, we are moving from listening to speech to actually verbalizing. Before this time, we are just part of the landscape, part of the big picture. We’re merged with other people and everything that’s part of our surroundings. So, nothing that happens is specifically designated to us in particular and therefore, not stored to memory. As a side note, this theory may also help to explain why sharing is such a struggle for young toddlers. If an 18-month-old sees his environment and what’s in it as part of himself, asking him to give up a toy truck would be much like asking him to take off his arm and share that.

share2

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Posted by on in Leadership

goose

I've been hearing geese honking all day. It seemed last night that they were louder than usual. Since moving by the river, I expected to hear the rapids, but I certainly didn't think I would be sitting reading, hearing geese honking. I'm never sure whether they are flying back and forth to the duck ponds across the road, or going home. Wonder where their home is? Are they local geese, Oregon geese, or are they from somewhere else? Do they look the same as the other geese? Do they speak the same goose language?

The other day I read geese fly home each year. I have that instinct too, since moving to Eugene. I wonder where these geese are going? I was used to seeing geese at home in Northern California. I lived forty five minutes from Lake Tahoe, in the middle of nowhere. Mountain life was so different than Eugene. But geese in both places were comforting as my life shifted dramatically.

Have you  ever looked up and simply watched flocks of geese gliding above? We used to have a couple Canadian honkers vacationing on our property from January to May each year. Our 'snowbirds'. We named them Edgar and Matilda. It was really funny. I didn't know geese had a personality and noisy voices. I had never been around that close, before. I knew they had a funny, nasty hiss when they were waiting for the corn bucket, or not getting their way. Just like couples everywhere, pretty much. And teams resolving conflicts, which are inevitable in transforming organizations and schools.

My husband and I put out cracked corn every day, a very big enticement for company and sure enough, all of a sudden, like clockwork we'd hear the pair fly overhead, land gracefully, skimming on our pond. Never was sure how they could spot that the corn was out, then circle back around. They came for their daily visit, creatures of habit, so to speak, in rain, snow, ice, never mattered. Except for us, gingerly wading through snow to get their treat out. 

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Posted by on in What If?

children transitioning 640x320

If there were a list of things that young children aren’t suited (developmentally ready) to do, at the top of that list would be being still and being quiet. Yet those are the exact two requirements we try to impose on young children during most transitions. We ask them to form an orderly line (something else they’re not adept at), to stand still, and to refrain from talking. We then ask them to move from one place to another in that manner, pretending to hold bubbles in their mouths so they’ll be silent.

I ask you: Does this demonstrate an understanding of child development? Does this show respect for who and what young children are? Or is this simply a desire for control?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a fan of chaos. I absolutely want the children to do as I ask! But if I’m asking them to do that for which they’re not developmentally ready – and for which they have no intrinsic motivation – resistance and chaos will be the results. Young children perceive when we’re disrespecting them and they make us pay for that!

The end result is frustration on the part of both the children and the teachers. And that frustration isn’t pretty. On the teachers’ part, during site visits I’ve witnessed them resorting to yelling at the kids to get them to comply. It’s no wonder, then, that transitions come to be dreaded by everyone involved. And it’s no wonder that many experts refer to transitions as a waste of learning time. How can learning take place in such an environment?

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Posted by on in General

its-time_20180123-002837_1.jpg

A knock on my door (Yes, my door is closed — this is the real world — not the fairytale world that is often portrayed in social media). I get up, open the door and am greeted by a teacher who apologizes for being sick. She asks if I have someone that can cover her class for the remainder of the day. Clearly, she is sick. I can hear it in her voice and I can see it in her eyes. I think to myself, I wouldn't have lasted half as long as she did. Then again during my 20 years in education and 47 years on Earth, I have learned that women are much tougher than men.

I have witnessed this scenario, or one very similar to it, many times. 

Too many times!

What is my point?

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

All Things STEAM logo

co-authored by Nancy Alvarez and Heid Veal

 

What do you picture when you imagine an ideal early childhood learning experience? Do you see young children sitting quietly at tables, independently completing school work or do you visualize them in various groups exploring, creating, pretending, tinkering, and communicating? The later is what the majority imagine and is what many would describe as developmentally appropriate for our youngest learners. When considering an ideal early learning setting, the young learn best when educators design purposeful, integrated experiences where students’ inquisitive nature and creativity are capitalized on to propel them towards foundational learning.

 

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