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.
One of my favorite moments during my last Powerful Play workshop was talking with the table of teachers who were doing their in-depth study on dramatic play. With wide eyes and excited tones they made connections between the play they saw in the classroom and the developmental benefits of playing pretend.
“Susie” played hospital for weeks after her brother was born. “Bobby” had themes of death woven through his play for a month after going to his grandfather’s funeral. “Lisa and Lori” spent most of their dress up time negotiating themes and characters. And the concept that pretending is actually part of building the foundation for reading — that one sparked a major a-ha moment.
Seeing how excited they became as they unpacked all of this, reminded me of why I love what I do. And made me want to give the same experience to you. So here’s a repost from the archives, originally posted in 2010. A primer on the purpose of playing pretend.
Share your observations of powerful play in the comments!
Many parents have come to their child’s preschool teacher with the same concern. “It seems like my child plays dress-up all day at preschool. What could he possibly be learning from that?” The question is understandable – what does he learn from leaping around with his cape fluttering behind him? And yet, the question is somewhat ironic, as these very parents likely spent much of their childhood engaged in the same kind of play. [Read more…]
“Developmentally Appropriate Practice”
I received a fantastic question for First Friday Q&A:
I was reading your article on DAP and was impressed. I am running a preschool in Mumbai, India and would like to conduct a workshop for my teachers on DAP . I would like to understand how I can help teachers understand what is DAP and what that means in their classrooms.
I love speaking on this topic — but that’s part of the problem. I talk about this for an hour and just cover some of the basics. So what I do I say with just a few minutes? Here’s where I’d start:
When I first read Rae Pica’s piece, What if Everybody Understood Child Development?, as it was shared in the Huffington Post a few years ago, I wanted to hold up a printed copy and shout from my rooftop: “THIS! THIS is what needs to change!”
And now, there is a printed copy. Along with 28 similar essays. And so, here I am on my social media rooftop, sharing it with all of you.
Another year is getting ready to close. It must be true that the older you get, the faster the years go by. This past one is almost a blur. (I suppose that could also be due to the sleep deprivation that accompanied this year’s “adventures”.)
They say you should do something that scares you every now and then. Something outside of your comfort zone.
I was so there this past week.
I was invited to be on a discussion panel for Rae Pica’s BAM! Radio show, Studentcentricity. I was surprised and flattered to be invited, but radio is a new medium for me.
It scared me a little.
Then I found out the topic: Cultural Sensitivity During the Holidays. A topic that is so important, but also a potential minefield of controversy. Since I tend to prefer the sweet spot between extreme opinions on most issues, that essentially means I have plenty of opportunities to offend everyone equally. Throw in the fact that I could very easily misspeak in my effort to be concise for this fast-moving format, and I was sweating bullets. [Read more…]
As I sat filling out the teacher information sheet for the specialist, I struggled for precise words to describe what the challenge was. His parents were looking for help, and I was suppose to offer a teacher’s perspective, but how could I put it all on two tiny lines? And then the word I was looking for popped into my mind. He struggled with flexibility. His mind was often rigid, and when experience didn’t match up with expectation, he melted down and could not be moved from his position.
I’m sure there are many ways this strong personality will help him in his future. While this rigidity may be a challenge at times, it also helps when pursuing goals and overcoming obstacles. I’ve seen some of the same qualities in one of my own boys. I’ve even seen it in myself.
But my rigid thinking threatened my life. [Read more…]