Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jane Healy, Ph.D "Brain-building experiences..." and MORE!

Click here to listen to Jane Healy, Ph.D's entire presentation hosted by DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville, IL. It is a wonderful presentation on what are quality "brain-building" experiences for children.

Then, check out Melitsa's discussion about similar topics at her blog:

Additionally, has anyone seen Rae Pica's new site? Click here to check it out! She has had a wealth of really great interviews, including Kathy Hirsch-Pasek and one of my new favorite authors, Ginger Carlson (who by the way has two great blogs, one here).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What are your thoughts about celebrating the holidays in your classroom?

I have fond memories of our grade school Christmas Pageant and going to "Santa's Workshop" every year. However, I went to a parochial school and also didn't realize all the other holidays that individuals of other religions/cultural backgrounds celebrated. It wasn't until I was in high school that I felt like I missed out on learning about these important events that go on throughout the world.

Holidays are important to children, but so is making every child feel respected and understood.

In a future post, I want to know what your thoughts are on this topic: Should we celebrate holidays in the schools? I'll also share my ideas on how to make every child and family feel welcome throughout the year by providing anti-bias curriculum activities. You might be surprised to know, many children and families can share their traditions with the class without making others feel left out.


Quality Play Experiences that Build Children's Brains

I attended a lecture by Jane Healy, Ph.D last week on the importance of quality play experiences and their impact on brain development. Here are the top three thoughts I took away from the presentation:

1. What is the point of childhood?
She asked those of us this question in relation to the fact that many of us get caught up in the hurried, rushed world we live in and how many parents feel their child needs to achieve. She asks, is childhood simply a means to an end where it is simply a time for them to achieve what will eventually happen. Or, is childhood a essential time period where children should be allowed to learn with their senses, take note of the world around them and develop skills that will help build resilience and a strong foundation and become ready for the life they will lead?

2. Play should be 90% child and 10% toy.
This was a quote she shared from Joan Almon, of the Alliance for Childhood. Are we providing children with quality experiences that they can then lead on their own and take what they need from them or are we constantly leaning and focusing more on the educational values of toys and materials instead? Much of the toys today are closed-ended and do not allow children the opportunity to learn more than just rote concepts and fail to provide chidren with the stimulation they need, the opportunity to use their own minds to create, build and explore.

3. Is it the process or the product of childhood that is worth more?
Related to question one, Healy ended the presentation with this thought. The same thought that many quality educators and parents need to think about as they nurture their child's development. As far as educators are concerned, we need to provide children with experiences that may not necessarily have a "cute" end product, but a intentional process (one that is much more important than the product) and we also need to communicate how the process is much more than the product to parents. A cute cut-and-paste product looks good in a child's keepsake box, but its sad to think about how many other children have the same, indistinctive product in their keepsake boxes as well. Parents might actually enjoy knowing that while a quality experience may not have the "cookie cutter" look to it that may be aesthetically appealing, it may have a lot of meaning to their child because they used their creativity and skills to do it "all by themselves!"