A Hundred Ways of Thinking: Weaving Dialogue and Technology Into Learning Spaces

I am so incredibly pumped for this conference! Thankfully, I was able to get a reduced rate on the ticket AND bursary money for hotel and transportation so … yes! I get the opportunity to be there.

And Suzanne Axelsson will travel here from Stockholm University so it literally could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. She focuses on the relevance of the Reggio Emilia Approach in education today. Suzanne is the individual behind Interaction Imagination. She has a blog about working with young children and the Reggio Emilia Approach.

STEM materials for tinkering

Friday will be about pedagogical documentation and the pedagogy of listening and Saturday will be about the role of technology in pedagogical spaces. The pedagogy of listening requires mindfulness and listening beyond simply hearing the sounds but with the intent to truly understand. And if that makes me sound like an early childhood education nerd… well, I guess that could be true.

And, I should have some time for a bit of fun too, since we end each day at 3 pm. Maybe I will get the chance to try out a cool Vancouver restaurant or two. My posts will probably be filled with conference updates, so be prepared. How many more sleeps until February 20th?

Your Child's Musical Literacy

Hey! I’m here to let you know that I’ll be at the Sidney Preschool giving a talk for parents about supporting your child’s musical literacy. This is geared for parents of young children and we’ll cover…

  • Why musical literacy is important
  • Research on music as it relates to brain development
  • Ways to support your child’s musical development
  • Starting your child in music lessons

Plus… you’ll actually experience the joy of musical learning in a group as we do a demonstration mini lesson. No musical skills required!

Join me on February 11th from 8-9 pm at Sidney Preschool on 2410 Malaview Avenue. Non-members of Sidney Preschool are welcome. Admission by donation. RVSP sidneypreschoolteacher@gmail.com

Fostering Creativity in Young Children

What is creativity? The ability to produce work that is both novel and useful.

Why is creativity important? Creativity will allow us to generate and execute innovative solutions. Creativity will influence how we approach a challenge.

How can we foster creativity? I want to share this awesome website with you. Harvard Graduate School of Education has Project Zero, an exploration of creativity. You can learn more by searching age categories or subject categories. There are book recommendations too. There are more resources and professional development too. If you value creativity and want to support that or learn more, check out all the Project Zero has to offer!

If you look under resources, for example, you can download family dinner conversation cards with age appropriate conversation starter ideas for you. And there is much, much more. How do you use your creativity? Are your children creative? Share in the comments! I’d love to see all your creative projects.

Play Grows Brains.

When you hear that play helps with brain development, what kind of play do you imagine?

I would define play as self-directed, freely chosen, and intrinsically motivated activities.

Makers of electronic toys would have us believe that we need these educational toys to ‘teach’ our children something. And yet the research has shown that the most simple toys that do not actually ‘do’ anything (non-electronic) are the best for play. It turns out that the electronic toys do not encourage parent-child interaction, whereas the simpler toys do allow for more interaction. It is those interactions (often compared to the serve and return) that facilitate neural development.

Glitter bottles
Sensory bottles are simple to make and are wonderful playthings.
Creative play with basic materials is so valuable!

Simon Nicholson’s Theory of Loose Parts has been a force in early childhood education and shows how play with basic materials above promotes creativity and discovery.

Do you imagine play in organized programs like gymnastics, soccer, swim lessons, piano lessons, karate, t-ball, and others? Yes, these programs may have a playful element; however, are they self-directed? Are children intrinsically motivated to participate? Maybe. And maybe not. In my opinion, organized sports are best saved for children ages 8 and up.

Read this Harvard Research Brief, The Science of Early Childhood Development to learn more.

Aside from educational benefits, there is another less obvious reason to promote children’s self-directed, freely chosen, intrinsically motivated play, one that is biological. In a review in the American Journal of Play (yes, there really is a scholarly journal on play), evidence is provided from controlled studies in rats and some primates. These studies show that when young animals are encouraged to play they develop improved social competencecognition, and emotional regulation later in life. Play experience also makes them more adaptable to unexpected situations.

Do children need commercially produced toys to improve their development?

No. That is all just toy company marketing.

It turns out the ‘toys’ that are going to benefit children’s development are for the most part free and easy to collect. And this is very good news for young families who are on a budget.

Reference:

Suggested citation: Center on the Developing Child (2007). The Science of Early Childhood Development (InBrief). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Family Literacy Week!

Did you know Family Literacy Week is January 26 – February 2 this year?

Supporting literacy does not require a lot of materials. It can be as simple as having conversations together, going for walks and noticing environmental print, reading a story or making a grocery list.

This year’s theme is “Read Together”.

Bookshelf at The Children’s Bookshop in Sidney, B.C.

Look here for some free downloadable resources you can use to support early literacy.

If you are local, you can also visit the Sidney Museum’s Lego Exhibit or at Mary Winspear, there’s a production of Matilda the Musical based on a story by Roald Dahl. Or look for similar opportunities in your home town. Family events like these are great for promoting literacy too.

How do you make literacy part of your family’s every day life? I hope you’ll share in the comments.

Promoting Physical Activity for Children

A Western University study suggests children attending child care may not be getting enough vigorous heart-pumping activity. In British Columbia, child care centres are now required to have an Active Play Plan to address this issue.

Research indicates that when outdoors, children are 10 times more active than indoors so getting children outside is the first step. Outdoor play has been associated with improved self-confidence. Read more here.

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
-Plato

Based on my observations, there are some children who are less likely to naturally engage in physical activity and may need extra encouragement to get active. I do believe if we find the thing we love and feel successful with, we will participate. This is true for children and adults.

What barriers are there to ensuring children are engaging in physical activity? How can we overcome those barriers? Let’s talk about it!

Victoria Art Gallery: Family Sunday!

Did you know that the Victoria Art Gallery features Family Sundays? https://aggv.ca/events/family-sunday-30/ The program happens on the third Sunday of the month and provides an opportunity for hands-on art making activities for all ages.

Art meets science with food color, dish soap and homogenized milk.

Sunday, January 19th from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Victoria Art Gallery at 1040 Moss Street.

What do you like to do on Sundays? Share in the comments!