Growing up in the 80s and 90s, my brother’s room was a shrine to Michael Jordan. After I came home one day, devastated about missing out on a part for a children’s theater production, I was taken by my brother to his display. He pointed at one of his favorite posters.
The topic of “testing” gets a very passionate response from educators (and parents), and not usually a very good one. But ask them about assessments, and you’re likely to get a very different response. It may be a matter of semantics, but the underlying cause is not something to consider lightly.
The mystery of the disappearing recess, is not an uncommon topic of discussion in elementary education. The majority of adults remember a morning recess, a lunch recess, and an afternoon recess. I think most Americans would hazard a guess and say that there is probably less time devoted to recess today than in years gone by.
“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”– M. Scott Peck
Can you relate to that? To coming up against a feeling that accepting the status quo just might not work any longer? That some of the “should’s” and “have-to’s” are rooted in misconceptions and “that’s-just-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it”?
Peck’s words form one of the guiding quotes in Heather Shumaker’s newest book,It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids (*affiliate link), and explain her drive to question everything in order to give kids what they really need, rather than what we’ve simply assumed they should accept. [Read more…]
It was years ago that I read the passage, but it is one of the first that comes back to me as I consider the importance of recognizing that the work of the mind and the work of the body are inextricably linked.
In my most recent post, I wrote about how powerful words are in a young child’s development. As I mentioned then, it’s been said that sometimes we’re in such a hurry to give kids the things we never had, that we forget to give them the things we did have. Meaningful conversation may rank high on that list of simple, yet powerful things we take for granted.
The 30 million word gap has become somewhat legendary. But in case you missed the recurrent rumbling, here’s the quick rundown. Back in 1995, researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley recorded hours and hours of interactions between parents and children. What they found was startling. By age three, the average child from a family in the professional class heard 30 million more words than did the average child living on welfare. What was perhaps most striking about this research was their finding that there was a tight link between the number of words a child heard and their future academic success. This link was so strong that it appears to exist even when other factors, including socioeconomic factors, were controlled for. In essence, they asserted that closing that word gap could close the achievement gap between the social classes.
Subsequent studies have found that it isn’t just the quantity of words, but the quality of conversation that makes such a big difference for kids. [Read more…]
Until about the mid 1700s, childhood wasn’t recognized as part of the lifespan. Children were viewed as miniature adults. The same rules, expectations, and responsibilities were applied equally to children and adults. (Hence, the child kings, child brides, child laborers, etc.) No one considered that children might have different needs, different ways of thinking, or different capacities. The shift in perspective that allowed adults to consider children and childhood to be unique was one of the great advances of the 18th century
“Way before we put a pencil in a child’s hand and ask him to write, we need to have a foundation of fine motor skills.”
Everyone will agree that we want to keep children safe. Despite all the other things that might divide us, we all want to protect our children. The trick is in agreeing on HOW we should protect children.