Getting the Environment Right

Posted by: Rhonda May 23, 2017

A Community Playthings Case Study 

You've seen the concentrated face and astonishing perseverance of a child absorbed in play. And you have probably noticed how a well-planned setting facilitates this level of involvement. Educators have long recognized the impact of the environment on children's learning. The Reggio Emilia approach goes so far as to describe it as “the third teacher”. 

What does a classroom look like when it is intentionally designed to encourage play and scientific inquiry? With 15 classrooms full of pre-K students, Wintonbury Early Childhood Magnet School needed to get the environment right in order to positively support so many children. See how they have enlisted their “third teacher” to help meet curriculum goals: Watch this case study video.

De Clatter your Classroom

Time for Spring Cleaning

Posted by: Rhonda May 23, 2017

The shelves overflowed with piles of games, equipment, and donated items, making the room look more like a neighborhood yard sale than a classroom. In fact, there seemed to be more storage space than floor space. Teachers, by nature, are pack-rats and tend to keep stuff, “just in case,” but how does all this clutter affect children’s learning?

A cluttered play environment can make children restless and unfocused. When toys do not lead to deep engagement, children are easily distracted and tend to flit between occupations. Having more stuff certainly does not make children happier and often stifles imagination. Educational consultant Sandra Duncan refers to this as “mental clatter” which has a “negative impact on children’s growth and development—and especially their behaviors.”

Is there stuff in your classroom that  just collected dust this year? Arm yourself with more than a feather duster for a real spring clean! This article is a bold invitation to De-clatter your Classroom.

Sit still

Sit still and pay attention?

Posted by: Rhonda May 9, 2017

We all know the feeling—half an hour into a monotonous seminar our thoughts begin to drift, we struggle to stay awake, or we feel an overwhelming urge to fidget. Sitting still for too long reduces our ability to pay attention and our bodies instinctively begin sending us messages to get moving.

So why do we expect kids to be able to focus and be productive learners when they are constantly told to sit down and be quiet? What are children telling us when they won’t sit still?

Brain research clearly shows that children are wired to learn through movement. However, because teachers worry about losing control in their classrooms students are often required to sit still. Is it possible to maintain a positive classroom environment while at the same time allowing children the freedom to move? Mike Huber offers some classroom-tested strategies in this article: Engaging Active Learners.

Screen Free Kid

Screen Free Children

Posted by: Rhonda May 2, 2017

Are you participating in “Screen-Free Week” this year? Eliminating, or at least reducing, digital entertainment for a week is a worthy goal. It is also a good reminder of all the personal connections we miss when plugged into electronic devices. But is one week enough?

Technology affects people of all ages, but it can be particularly damaging for young children. Infant and toddler specialist, Rhonda Gillespie, reports:I have seen a devastating impact on children over the last twenty years. Technology attacks the foundation necessary for healthy development. The accessibility of screen devices has caused a significant decline in children’s resilience, self-determination, desire for hard work, and sense of pride in achievement. And socialization among children is becoming extinct.

“Part of childhood is about problem solving, working out strategies and solutions to everyday life issues. Life became easier with technology, but it also made children unfamiliar with the process of success: hard work and patience. We have created a generation that expects things immediately without effort.”

If we love children, we need to take action to turn this around. Read more.

First Impressions

The Impact of the First Impression

Posted by: Rhonda April 25, 2017

“As soon as I walked into this center I thought, ‘This is amazing. I love it. Please can I pay the deposit right now?’ I just had a feeling about it.”

This experience of a parent looking for child care, may sound similar to what families tell you as they search for the right place for their child. They often talk about it “feeling right.” Two facilities may have the same toys and a similar layout, yet parents say they had a feeling that one was a better fit for their family and their child. Research confirms that regardless of how a center is found, it is often this “feeling” parents experience as they tour a facility that is fundamental in choosing to enroll their child.

You may only have one opportunity to show your facility to a potential family. The first meeting is a vital time to establish that feeling of “rightness.” How can you get the most out of this initial contact? Read more from this article by Kay Albrecht and Margaret Banks.