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Showing posts from December, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Thank you to all who joined us for a very snowy Solstice Stroll last night. What a beautiful and fun event to close out the year. A few pictures have been posted on our school Facebook page.

Recently a couple of parents have asked about how to facilitate the sort of unstructured outside play that we do every day at MVS, particularly during the winter. Our outside time is intentionally open-ended and child-directed because we know such time gives children opportunities for growth that they don't get anywhere else (as I discussed here). But while we don't plan out children's outside time in terms of lessons or activities, we are intentional about creating the environment they play in, how we prepare to go outside, and how we facilitate and support their play once we're out there.

In designing play and learning spaces for children we often think about the environment in terms of "affordances", or opportunities the space will create and how the children might re…

Stress and Self Care

I won't go into the holidays too much but it is a rather funny time of year. Reflective and busy, nostalgic and stressful, everyone's emotions are just a little bit heightened.

As I've mentioned before, one reason why I work in the early childhood field is because of its potential to increase equitability. Another research study was published this week about the  positive long-term effects of high quality PreK (New York Times write-up here). We also know that a major factor undermining the academic success of the 21% of American children whose family incomes are below the federal poverty line is the toxic stress they are exposed to which actually alters their brain architecture. Harvard's Center on the Developing child released a report in October with three principles intended to shape programs and policies supporting children and families: 1) Support responsive relationships for children and adults; 2) Strengthen core life skills; and 3) Reduce sources of stress in …

More on Language

I hope you've all been enjoying this snowy Sunday! This week I wanted to write a little more about intentional language. One of my favorite early childhood theorists is Lev Vygotsky, who pioneered a theory of social learning which emphasized the importance of social context in learning. All of our knowledge originates in interactions with and observations of other people. To Vygotsky, language is the tool that mediates between ideas in our head and the outside world, so by consciously shaping our language we can both re-frame our internal thoughts and ensure that we are accurately conveying what we mean to say.

Another one of the phrases that Scott Noyes discussed with us last week was "nice job." I myself am frequently guilty of giving generalized praise with the best of intentions, but it's become evident that such praise can actually be pretty harmful to children, giving them an unrealistic self-concept and actually working against that resiliency characteristic …