Do you have unit blocks in your classroom? The presence of a block area is a good start, but in many classrooms this incredibly valuable learning material is completely underused. Many things can affect children’s experience with blocks, but possibly the most important component is the influence and interest of the teacher.
“As I think about the role of the teacher in a block area, I think his or her presence is the most important,” states Nancy McKeever of Bank Street College of Education. “It is very important for teachers in the beginning of the school year to create a culture around block building.”
So what does this look like in practice? Watch and listen as Dr. McKeever and other educators from Bank Street, City & Country School, and Caltech discuss the Role of the Teacher in Block Play.
Learning how to interact positively with others is a vital developmental task of early childhood. However, many teachers are reporting a worrying increase in social problems such as bullying, lack of problem-solving skills, and anti-social behavior.
Current trends, such as the increase of media and technology in the lives of young children, combined with fewer opportunities for play and interaction with others, are feeding this widespread problem which Diane Levin has characterized as “Compassion Deficit Disorder”.
No, this is not another label to slap on children’s behavioral difficulties. Rather, it is an indictment on a society where childhood is not valued and supported. It is vital that children have real life, meaningful experiences right from the start that help them to learn compassion and empathy. Parents and educators are in a unique position to curb this damaging trend. Read Diane Levin’s article.
The Key Role of the Teacher
“Helping children build vocabulary and develop language skills to get what they need and want is a key teaching task in the early childhood classroom,” writes Jennifer Fiechtner. “So many important developmental tasks are tied to children’s ability to access and use language in the right ways at the right time.”
Your impact as an educator is huge. Vocabulary is best developed through meaningful and deliberate interactions about things that are relevant to the individual child. Mere exposure isn’t enough—your relationship with the student is the foundation for successful language learning. Read more.
If you’re wondering why your 4-year-old can’t sit still, just remember that they have over 600 muscles that need daily exercise! While active, full body play is essential for their big muscles, don’t forget to provide them with fine motor activities to give their small muscles a workout too.
Finger knitting is a fantastic and addictive activity for preschoolers. It builds dexterity and strength in the small muscles which control the hand, fingers, and thumb—all critical for later writing skills. It also encourages eye-hand coordination, concentration, and perseverance—all equally important for their development. (Interestingly enough, when a child is fully engaging their small muscles, their large muscles relax and they actually can sit still!)
Do you know how to finger knit? Here are simple instructions and a catchy little song that makes it fun and easy. All you will need is a small ball of yarn.
“If it hasn't been in the hand and body, it can't be in the brain.” -
If there’s one thing in common about young children, it’s their ability to make a mess! Children learn best through direct experiences—exploring the world around them with their whole being. They dive, hands first, into an unfamiliar substance—be it oobleck, paint, or mud with little thought to the outcome. They stare, grab, smell, listen, rub, or lick unfamiliar objects, using all their senses to collect data that will be wired permanently into their memory.
If a child’s environment is too sterile or limited, they are deprived of this rich learning. What can parents and teachers do to offer diverse sensory experiences without becoming completely overwhelmed by the inevitable mess? Continue reading.