About Me

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Early childhood education has been my life for over 30 years. I have taught all age groups from infants to 5-year-olds. I was a director for five years in the 1980s, but I returned to the classroom 22 years ago. My passion is watching the ways children explore and discover their world. In the classroom, everything starts with the reciprocal relationships between adults and children and between the children themselves. With that in mind, I plan and set up activities. But that is just the beginning. What actually happens is a flow that includes my efforts to invite, respond and support children's interface with those activities and with others in the room. Oh yeh, and along the way, the children change the activities to suit their own inventiveness and creativity. Now the processes become reciprocal with the children doing the inviting, responding and supporting. Young children are the best learners and teachers. I am truly fortunate to be a part of their journey.

Friday, August 20, 2010

IMPORTANCE OF PLAY

One of the books I read this summer was a book by play scholar Stuart Brown. His book is called: PLAY; How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul.  Yesterday, I went to hear him talk at the Children's Theatre in Minneapolis as a keynote speaker for the Neighborhood Bridges National Conference.  As I listened to him speak, I was struck by a couple of things he said that relate specifically to this blog.  I am going to quote from his book.

p.84   "Movement is primal...  If you don't understand and appreciate human movement, you really won't understand yourself or play.  Learning about self-movement creates a structure for an individual's knowledge of the world---it is a way of knowing.  Through movement play, we think in motion.  Movement structures our knowledge of the world, space, time and our relationship with others."

p.185  "The hand and the brain need each other---the hand provides the means for interacting with the world and the brain provides the method...the hand and the brain are important not only for each other's function, but that the use of the hands manipulate three-dimensional objects is an essential part of brain development...  Normal play, the play that I have shown is constantly fertilizing neural growth and complexity, is packed with examples of hand use."

Clearly movement and manipulation with the hands happen in all areas of an early childhood classroom.   Besides movement and using the hands, Dr. Brown also mentioned in his talk the need for play experiences that include all the senses.  For me, this sums up play in and around the sensory table: movement, hand exploration/manipulation, sight, sound, smell---and all in 3-D.

I highly recommend his book for any one interested in why play is so important for development of the child and its importance even for adults.

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