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Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

“Children are natural players, right from the beginning. ‘It’s hard to imagine when an infant or a toddler isn’t playing,’ said Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, a professor of applied psychology at New York University who studies play and learning in babies and young children. She cited, for example, the joys of mushing food, pulling books off a shelf or making noises rattling a paper bag.

“‘I don’t like it when scientists think children are playing only when they sit down with some toys,’ she said. ‘Almost all the learning that goes on in the first years of life is in the context of exploration of the environment.’”

“But though play may be intrinsically present, and intrinsically playful, those who study its importance in children’s lives point out that it can also be threatened, either by too little attention and responsiveness from distracted adults or, in another sense, by too much attention and teaching, of the not-so-playful kind.”

“Taking Playtime Seriously,” Dr. Perri Klass, The New York Times, January 29, 2018

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JD Chesloff

We caught up with JD Chesloff, who just completed a 10-year term on the Board of Early Education and Care (EEC), and asked him about what he’s seen over the last decade.

As readers of this blog know, JD’s career includes working at Strategies for Children and in the State House. He was also chair of EEC’s Board, and he is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

What has he seen as an EEC board member?

“The organization has matured over the last 10 years. It started out as a fledgling idea of having all of the early childhood activity in one place.”

“It’s grown up over that time and now it’s a clearly equal member at the education table with K-12 and higher education.”

JD praises the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and its focus on ensuring that children and families have access to high-quality programs. The department has also wrestled with serving all children, making universal access part of its vision in a 5-Year Strategic Plan.

What was the most personally satisfying part of JD’s time on the Board? (more…)

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“Rotting wood and rusted bolts at the Rainbow Child Development Center’s old play area have been replaced by brand-new playsets, thanks to the generosity of donors and a six-figure government grant.”*

“‘We know you have to have healthy, happy children for them to thrive academically,’ said the center’s executive director, Joyce Rowell, who explained the Rainbow Center has adopted a range of new programs and activities aimed at instilling healthy living habits in its students and their families. ‘It’s a whole mindset we’re trying to work on together.’”

“Unlike many private preschool centers, however, the Rainbow Center cannot rely on its clients to pay for those initiatives. It primarily serves low-income and single-parent families living in some of the area’s poorest neighborhoods, as well as students under the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, and derives around 85 percent of its funding from the state.”

“Worcester early education center serving at-risk students unveils new playspaces,” by Scott O’Connell, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, September 8, 2017

 


*Massachusetts’ Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund Program

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

It’s summer and NAEYC’s publication, Young Child, has a compelling and seasonally appropriate article about the history of outdoor play.

Written by Joe L. Frost, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and John A. Sutterby, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the article starts with this poetic quote from Frost’s 2012 article “Evolution of American Playgrounds:”

“Good play environments have magical qualities that transcend the here and now, the humdrum, and the typical. They have flow qualities — qualities that take the child to other places and other times. They are permeated with awe and wonder, both in rarity and in imaginative qualities. Bad play environments are stark and immutable, controlled by adults, lacking resiliency and enchantment. Few dreams can be spun there, and few instincts can be played out. The wonders of nature, the delights of creating are all but lost for children restricted to such places.”

Simply put, the authors say in their Young Child article, outdoor play isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity.

“As history scholars, we know that our current efforts are grounded in a movement that began almost two centuries ago.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“In Florida, a coalition of parents known as ‘the recess moms’ has been fighting to pass legislation guaranteeing the state’s elementary-school students at least 20 minutes of daily free play. Similar legislation recently passed in New Jersey, only to be vetoed by the governor, who deemed it ‘stupid.’ ”

“The benefits of recess might seem obvious—time to run around helps kids stay fit. But a large body of research suggests that it also boosts cognition. Many studies have found that regular exercise improves mental function and academic performance. [3] And an analysis of studies that focused specifically on recess found positive associations between physical activity and the ability to concentrate in class. [4]

“Perhaps most important, recess allows children to design their own games, to test their abilities, to role-play, and to mediate their own conflicts—activities that are key to developing social skills and navigating complicated situations. [8] Preliminary results from an ongoing study in Texas suggest that elementary-school children who are given four 15-minute recesses a day are significantly more empathetic toward their peers than are kids who don’t get recess. [9]

“Why Kids Need Recess: And why it’s endangered,” The Atlantic, December, 2016

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Equipped with big dreams, generous hearts, and strategic funding, the Worcester Child Development Head Start program has been building a STEAM curriculum to immerse preschool-age children in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. It’s been a dynamic process that shows how important it is to have partnerships, federal investments, and lots of local action.

Inspired by the STEAM work being done by a Head Start program in Lawrence, Mass., staff in Worcester decided to form a STEAM committee and create their own STEAM rooms.

 

millswanmural

 

(more…)

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Video Source: Tom Bedard’s Blog

 

A terrific article on the MenTeach website profiles preschool teacher Tom Bedard, a.k.a. “a sort of preschool MacGyver (that classic television character who made extraordinary things out of ordinary objects).”

“I go through the hardware stores and think, ‘Huh! What can I use this for?’” Bedard, a 65 year-old resident of St. Paul, Minn., says in the article. “I’m known for my sand and water tables. I build in and around the tables to make them unique spaces for the kids to play and learn.

One water table is “a wondrous contraption” that’s actually “two tables fashioned into one long one and stacked with accessories like swimming noodles and coffee filters.”

As he approached retirement, Bedard reflected on his career in early education.

“I thought I would get a science degree,” Bedard says. “But, my first semester, calculus and physics didn’t go so well. I started taking psychology classes instead and really liked them.” (more…)

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