If you landed here I'm thinking you're probably aware of your importance in the world as a caregiver for very young children. And you know that everything you do with them and every experience you help them acquire is multiplied exponentially out in the world as they take their places in it.
That's mostly because of the way our brains develop. Harvard University has a really good website on The Developing Child that all high-quality early childhood educators should know about.
By educators I mean teachers, parents, grandparents, daycare workers, nurses, and Head Start staff.
You know who you are! The ones who really make a difference and rarely get the recognition we deserve for it. The caregivers who care!
Caring is really hard work and no one knows that better than I do. After over 40 years of caring for very young children as well as studying them and applying what I've learned, I want to help make a hard job a little bit easier on you.
In my latest article, I outline one thing I never recommend in early childhood settings although it seems to be common. It's the daily practice of going over the calendar during group times. I also suggest some alternatives that are truly developmentally appropriate, fun for young children, and teach similar concepts with less stress.
Although many teachers use the calendar to teach concepts such as counting, days of the week, and months of the year, it really doesn't work very well, and here's why:
Children can only focus on learning one task at a time because that's the way their brains work. Mentioning days, weeks, and months in the same paragraph is enough to make the young brain either rebel and start to squirm, poke or yell or blank out.
Teachers may think the children are getting a lot out of this and they do learn something but it's not optimal. Some get practice at sitting still for longer and longer periods of time. Some just get in trouble
Most children learn to count by rote (memorization) and maybe sing a song that helps them remember the days of the week in order. But very young children do their best learning in action.
Here's what you can try instead.
Try looking at just 5 days and write some plans on your calendar. This is an interactive activity and it's up to you what you allow the children to contribute. I personally write out my calendar in dark black marker and let children embellish it by supplying neon or pastels.
After we go to the park, we can add a photo. Or I can try to draw a tire swing or sandbox if that's what we end up doing.
When you plan activities with the children, carry them out, and then review what you do it's called Plan, Do, Review and it's a big part of the High Scope "Young Children In Action" curriculum.
Want to make even more of a difference? Want to stay WOKE in a world full of hate?
Want to learn more about developmentally appropriate practices and how you can support them?
Great! Here's a bonus for you that you can use right away! It's an activity that encourages children to learn, play and sing in Spanish and English. A way to find fun, inclusivity, individuality, and a common ground to stand on. To learn the song you can visit the youtube link by clicking on the poster.
Thanks so much for stopping by today! You really are making a positive difference.
How about some tips for boundary setting with children and adults?
Or how about more good old-fashioned encouragement for doing one of the hardest yet most important and least respected jobs in the universe?
Join here. It's free! You'll get some new tips from me each week.
Early Childhood Rocks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the world through early childhood education
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! (click on the word) She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.
“Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 4 Dec. 2017, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/