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Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

“Preschool is founded on play; experts say it’s how children learn best. But not all play is the same.

“How, then, should parents decide what school is right for their child? They can readily compare cost and location, but quality is tougher to discern…”

“Jane Lannak, director of the Early Childhood Learning Lab at Boston University and a clinical associate professor, said children need to develop a love of learning as they play, and to feel respected and part of the classroom community.

“One good way to foster those ideals is to help them follow their interests, she said. Parents should look for a program with structure in which children make some choices about what activities they do.”

From “How to pick the right preschool for your child,” by Jennette Barnes, the Boston Globe, July 30, 2015

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Play is making a comeback in kindergarten classes located in the Maryland suburb of Pasadena, according to a recent New York Times article, “Kindergartens Ringing the Bell for Play Inside the Classroom.”

But support for play varies based on class-related ideas about what children need most: more play or more academics.

Describing Pasadena’s new approach to play, the Times writes:

“Mucking around with sand and water. Playing Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. Cooking pretend meals in a child-size kitchen. Dancing on the rug, building with blocks and painting on easels.

“Call it Kindergarten 2.0.”

“Concerned that kindergarten has become overly academic in recent years, this suburban school district south of Baltimore is introducing a new curriculum in the fall for 5-year-olds. Chief among its features is a most old-fashioned concept: play.”

Some teachers are excited about the new approach.

“But educators in low-income districts say a balance is critical,” the Times notes. “They warn that unlike students from affluent families, poorer children may not learn the basics of reading and math at home and may fall behind if play dominates so much that academics wither.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

The action never seems to stop in preschool classrooms. But appearances can be deceiving. Researchers from the University of Washington report that children are not always getting enough opportunities for active play.

“Parents feel as if their young children are constantly in motion. But new research suggests that children in preschool have few opportunities for active play and are often sedentary,” a blog on the New York Times’ Motherlode website says.

To conduct this study — “Active Play Opportunities at Child Care” — researchers observed 98 children attending 10 preschools in Seattle. Each preschool was observed for four full days.

The study found that children’s activity was 73 percent sedentary, 13 percent light, and 14 percent of what researchers call “moderate-vigorous physical activity.”

The study found “that for 88 percent of child care time, children were not presented opportunities for active play, so the finding that more than 70 percent of children’s time was sedentary is not surprising.”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

How are our kids doing? That’s the question New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) has been asking in a series called “The First Decade: Early Childhood Disparities and the Future of N.H.’s Kids.”

So we’re taking a look at our New England neighbor to get a sense of how some of this region’s children are doing.

“When it comes to kids’ well-being, New Hampshire ranks high overall in survey after survey. But the real picture of how kids are faring goes deeper than that,” NHPR’s website explains. “Children in poor families continue to lose ground in everything from access to health care to quality education to opportunities to play sports.”

Worse, the opportunity gap between children from lower and higher ends of the income spectrum is likely to grow.

“On the whole, we’ve found that while children in New Hampshire are somewhat better off than those across the nation,” the website notes, “New Hampshire still has a growing trend in inequality in terms of poverty and family income, where low-income children and poor children are on the rise after decades of decline and income is pretty much all but stagnated for those in lower income groups in the past 50 years, but it has actually increased for families in higher income groups. This means that more and more, there is this likely growing gap in outcomes between worse- and better-off children in New Hampshire.”  (more…)

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Danielle

Danielle Scanlon

This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

*     *     *

My name is Danielle Scanlon, and I work at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. I have been in the early education and care field for about six and a half years.

As an infant teacher, I appreciate the value of early education and the amount of work infant and toddler teachers put into each lesson. Infants learn more in their first year than any other year of life. Young children, all children, learn best through play, hands on experimentation, and manipulation.

You cannot teach what red and yellow make by reading a book on colors. Infant and toddler teachers know this, so they create activities that let young children discover what happens to colors when they move them around on a giant piece of paper, covering themselves with paint.

I try to get the families involved in their infants’ education by inviting them to our room to help us create the paint art. This helps parents understand the value of play. The parents learn to appreciate that children need to explore using all of their senses, and children need to be able to make a mess to understand cause and effect. (more…)

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eng crop

Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

“How are we going to make engineering work in an infant space?” asked Monica Dolan, an early educator who works with infants at The Children’s Center, Caltech’s child-care center.

Featured in a news story from Marketplace called “Caltech’s Little Engineers that Could,” Dolan is an early educator who was meeting with “a group of educators gathered to plan their big teaching initiative for the year ahead.”

“The center has always focused on teaching through science and math principles – after all, it is attached to Caltech – but diving into engineering curriculum for little ones was new,” the story says.

At the center, infants build with big, soft blocks.

Toddlers construct a train: “They scour the yard for materials to make carriages and find empty crates… Then a classic engineering problem strikes: resource scarcity. The crates run out and there are still 2-year-olds without a seat on the train. The toddlers solve it by finding chairs to create the needed train carriages.”

Later these students go inside and listen to a story called “Iggy Peck, Architect,” by Andrea Beaty. Iggy is a fictional architect who, at age 2, built a tower in under an hour using diapers that weren’t entirely clean.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Principals can strengthen the pre-K-to-third-Grade pipeline.

Rhian Evans Allvin was reminded of this a number of years ago at a conference. Allvin — executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) — recalls hearing a principal at the conference who “spoke of how he sent out letters to parents of newborns in his district, welcoming them into the learning community and offering a list of available early childhood resources and opportunities.”

Allvin’s experience is part of an article, “Strategies for Aligning Pre-K -3,” in the January/February 2015 edition of Principal Magazine.

The article highlights the release of “Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice.”

The guide helps principals “create and support connections between the worlds of birth-to-five and K-12 and… implement developmentally-appropriate teaching and learning practices to ensure successful Pre-K-3 continuums in their schools,” the executive summary explains.

Published by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the full guide can be ordered on the NAESP website(more…)

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