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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in early childhood

Posted by on in Early Childhood

Big discovery

There have been so many exciting scientific discoveries and breakthroughs in the past few years. Most recently, all the buzz is around the confirmation of gravitational waves, theorized by Einstein a century ago. The question for me as an educator is always how to share these important advances in science with students.

How does one explain a concept like gravitational waves to the very young? Particularly if you have to read several articles on it yourself to feel like you've grasped it?! Good news: you don't. No, I'm not saying that young children are not capable of learning difficult concepts, nor am I saying that science is not an important part of early childhood and elementary education. However, I am saying that what is more important when teaching kids in the years before middle school is laying a strong foundation in the sciences so that they can grasp all of these cool scientific advances when they read about them in their future textbooks.

(That said, if you live with, or teach a budding astrophysicist, there is no need to stifle their passion by not exploring these more complex concepts.)

When I was a science specialist for Preschool through 6th grade, I was often met with the incredulous response of "You teach 3 and 4 year olds science?!?" as if the idea of it was crazy. Yes, I do, and it's a lot of play and discovery. I think many people hear science and can only think of lab coats and Bunsen burners. When you teach at this level you are building the foundation that students will pull from in the more advanced years of their education. Science at this age has so much to do with forming kids' understanding of the world around them. 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

TeacherHurt

So, I had a chat session last night with one of my online Early Childhood Education classes. This was the second of four I will host this semester. These one-hour chats add a dimension that is typically missing from an online course. They provide an opportunity for students to share ideas and points of view, to network and discuss assignments with one another and me, in real time, using a voice app. It makes an otherwise routine, sit-by-yourself-in-front-of-a-computer class something more dynamic. I’ve also found I gain as much as the students from these sessions.

I can learn about the students’ backgrounds, work experience, and philosophies by listening to their responses and reactions to the topics we discuss. I can also determine areas of learning that need reinforcement in future assignments, enabling me to continually improve my courses and teaching.

I know these chats always seem to deliver some really good “aha” moments, as we share with each other. Last night was no exception.

Prior to the chat, I asked my students to read “The Teacher Effect,” by Deborah Hansen (Education Week). It would be a prelude to our discussion about thinking before speaking to children and how careless remarks can linger with a child forever.

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

JoBoys

Boys bring a certain level of verve to any setting. Day or night, they are ready for action and movement. Boys have a natural curiosity that fuels their hunger for learning about their wonderful world. They instinctively want to experience their environments in a kinesthetic fashion and are never truly satisfied with a “because I said so” answer to their questions. In short, they are explorers and doers of the best kinds, relentless in their search for adventure and always ready for a good ole’ ruckus. I know this is true not because I was a boy, but because I am the mother of two young boys, 8 and 4 years old, and I work with young boys on a daily basis as an administrator in an Early Childhood Campus. Maurice Sendak was never more honest and true when he penned the sentences “Let the wild rumpus start” and “Inside all of is a Wild Thing”. Sendak had a way of channeling the motives of our boy explorers!

Knowing that these are the hallmarks of healthy, growing boys why is it so many schools struggle to educate boys in a fashion that engage their full selves and optimizes their many innate talents and characteristics?

Below are my take-aways and suggestions for answering this question based on a Studentcentricity podcast hosted by Rae Pica, Getting Boys to Love School, that I participated in with speical guests Ruth Morhard and Richard Hawley, both experts on educating boys and gifted authors. 

When teaching boys please remember… 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

b2ap3_thumbnail_Why-Early-Learning-Matters.jpg

“We’re building a home up the street.”

It felt like a lie to give that explanation over and over to the strangers who had become our new neighbors, because for the longest time, the truth was that nothing was being built.

We went forward with a plan to build a new home in the new area we were moving to, an endeavor that the project manager estimated would be completely done by the end of September, only to be waiting for building permits until mid-October.

October.  The start of the rainy season.  And the rainy season is no joke here in the Pacific Northwest.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Superhero

There are many Early Childhood programs that outright ban superhero play. It’s just too risky, noisy, and difficult to control. End of conversation.

But, should it really be the end of the conversation? Are there elements of superhero play that are truly valuable and therefore need to be included as part of the preschool experience?

Research indicates that play is a significant vehicle for development. It is through play that children experiment with behaviors and roles, explore differences between right and wrong, and use their creativity. Play also provides opportunities for physical activity and learning more complex skills like conflict resolution and controlling impulses.

From my own experience as a teacher (and a parent of three boys), some children have a clear need to play superheroes. I believe this type of rough and tumble play can support a child’s healthy development in several domains. It involves running, chasing, playful wrestling, planning, creating, and trying out leadership skills. Usually, there is also a good deal of negotiating between children taking place.

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