Sneaking Veggies into Spaghetti

I thought I’d share my win of the day! Today, as usual, I had eight wee people age 5 and under. These little ones that have previously chowed down on their veggies and fruits, have recently begin to turn up their wee little noses. Once one of the older ones balk, they all seem to follow suit. So I’ve been thinking of ways to sneak veggies in. Of course I will still continue to offer fruits and veggies in their natural state, but if I can sneak some more in, I will!

One thing they all absolutely love is spaghetti. So today I decided to sneak some veggies into the sauce. I chopped up some sweet potatoes and got out some organic baby carrots. I steamed them until they were soft, and then put them in my Ninja with a little sauce and water.

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I already have used Barilla’s veggie pasta, which is made with zucchini and spinach. It looks and tastes the same as regular pasta, and the kids love it.spag

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The sauce with the added veggies looked and tasted EXACTLY the same as it regularly does. I think it’s important to puree the veggies, as these little guys would immediately spy (and reject) grated veggies.

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All of my wee people ate multiple helpings!

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Process Art

I love art! I love getting messy. I love color, shapes, and form. I love everything about art. I always have. It was my favorite class in school and my favorite activity to do now with the children. I also enjoy making crafts with the children, but it’s important to note that the two (process art versus crafts) are different.

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When you sit with children and make crafts, you normally get adorable and lovely end results. Parents typically love crafts. They love being able to hang their child’s little crafts up on the fridge or at work. Crafts are the most fun to show off!

Making crafts can be fun. The children do learn a lot through crafts, such as learning to cut and paste (fine motor skills), following directions, and working together (social and emotional skills). When we do crafts, they are often made as gifts for mom or dad. And they also almost always relate to something that we are learning about.

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Yet, it’s even more important for young children to engage in what’s called open-ended process art. Process art, as the name implies, focuses on the benefits of the process of making art rather than the outcome.

Process art promotes social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth. It allows children to explore and create. It gives them room for self-expression of their own thoughts, ideas, and feelings. It allows them to experiment and problem solve. It’s unplanned (by the teacher), spontaneous, and self-driven.

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Children advance through stages of art skill development of simple to more complex. They begin by scribbling, then they move into basic forms, and finally into drawings or pictorial drawing. Toddlers begin with dots, lines, and zigzags in the scribbling stage. They move on to the basic forms of squares and circles. Then the more difficult stars and hearts. When they move in to the drawing stage, they draw humans, pets, trees, and such. These drawings may start out large and crudely drawn, and coloring is rarely realistic.

Knowing these developmental phases can help you understand where a child is in the overall scheme of development and help you to encourage them. In the scribble stage, you might say, “wow, you made so many big lines.” As they progress into the form stage, you could point out that they did a fantastic job making the shapes.  Once they begin to draw, you can recognize their hard work and ask them to tell you about their picture. They may have expressed emotion or an event and be able to tell you about it through their art.

Allowing for open-ended, process art can range from simple (scissors, markers, and paper) to more extensive, with water, paint, and craft items that allow the child to create whatever s/he likes. Encourage them to take risks, get messy, and enjoy the process.

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Art helps children in their development. It’s exciting and it’s fun! Always focus on the process when children are involved in art, as it’s a wonderful time to encourage their confidence and self-image.

School Readiness – Helping Our Children Acquire the Right Skills

When young children first enter into the new world of elementary school, they benefit from some fundamental skills in order to feel confident and prepared to learn. Both early childhood educators and parents can help children throughout ordinary days in preparation for this big step. While we can’t prepare them for everything, being able to do the following things might help them to avoid embarrassing moments that can contribute to making a young child feel self-conscious.

For starters, a child should have basic body self-awareness. They should be able to identify their basic body parts, have some spatial awareness, and also some fundamental self-control. A good example of this is standing in lines. Children are expected to line-up a healthy distance from the child in front of them. Then there will be times that they will need to stop quickly without running into the other children. These acts use a combination of important skills that we might not have previously considered. Example of how we can help to prepare our children are talking about body parts while changing clothes, and playing simple games, such as red light – green light.

Another area we can help to prepare a young child for is the lunchroom. At mealtimes, we should teach basic table manners. We all know what these are, and they are learned over the early years with patience, repetition, and role modeling. There are also some needed self-help skills. When children arrive at the lunchroom, there is limited time to eat, and they need to be able to do as much as they can on their own. They need to learn how to open their own milk, insert a straw into a juice box, and open and close their own sandwich bag.

Other self-help skills every child needs to learn includes their knowing how to take their shoes, coats, gloves, etc. on and off. They should be able to go to the bathroom on their own, including adjusting their own clothing and washing their hands. They should be able to clean up after themselves. And, they should have a good concept of what it means to share.

Basic skills for learning includes being able to use tools, such as glue, glue sticks, pencil sharpeners, and scissors. Some things that a child should know by kindergarten includes knowing their first and last name and being able to identify and write their own name. They should know their basic colors and be able to identify the numbers 1-10.

Children that are not prepared can begin to believe that they are uncoordinated, clumsy, or inferior. However, these are not “natural” things. Children need time and opportunity to fail and conquer little tasks without being teased. Children who are unprepared have increased stress and anxiety, and the long term effect can have a child believing they aren’t any good at physical sports, dancing, and other healthy activities.

The above skills are simple, learned concepts that parents and early childhood educators can teach through conversation, games, directed play, and lots of encouragement.

Sources:

Gruber, J.J. 1985. “Physical Activity and Self-Esteem Development in Children: A Meta-Analysis.” The Academy Papers 19: 30–48.

Nieman, Peter. “Psychosocial aspects of physical activity.” Paediatrics & child health 7.5 (2002): 309.

Final reflection on early childhood development

Throughout this class we have studied the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional developmental stages of early childhood, and we considered the interplay between these domains. We have explored and discussed attachment, disabilities, language acquisition, stressors, trauma, technology, and the importance of play. We observed infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. This paper will summarize some of the main insights that I have gained throughout this course.

One of the things that surprised me with regard to child development is the extent of the biological influence of the father onto the child (Saey, 2008).  Scientists have determined that substances can affect the sperm and contribute to genetic abnormalities. One example that was given was research on male mice that had been given cocaine, and their offspring had difficulty learning and remembering. Research shows that the effect from males can go on for several generations. This was interesting as mothers are the ones who are always warned of their influence on the health of their unborn babies, but fathers never receive similar warnings (Saey, 2008).

Another thing that I had previously been unaware of is the importance of synchrony (Berger, 2012). I was aware of the term in regards to music, but not in reference to childhood. Brazelton has long been a favorite of mine, and I watched his shows faithfully as a young mother. He highly encouraged mothers to look into the face of their infants, speak to them, and imitate the infants’ expressions. I was not aware that professionally he characterized that as “moving in synchrony” (Tronick & Weinberg, 1997). I never realized that this could encourage development in the baby, especially in brain development through the production of neurotransmitters. Where this is neglected and there is a lack of responsiveness on the part of the caregiver, the effect on the baby’s development is negative (Tronick & Weinberg, 1997). Knowing this should encourage those of us who work with infants to look into each baby’s face and respond regularly. This aids in the child’s development, and can even be a source of healing if the child is neglected or abused (Tronick & Beeghly, 2011).

One other thing that I gained from this coursework with regards to child development is the benefit of art for developmental growth (Herr, 2012). To encourage healthy development, we can supply ample materials, and have open-ended and child-directed art sessions. With small children, we need to keep in mind that it is the process of art that is important rather than the outcome. We should urge the children to explore, choose our comments carefully, and display their work to encourage them (Itzkowitz, 2013). Art is a fun way for the children to spend time, and it also encourages their healthy development, creativity, and imagination.

Additionally, in regards to child development, I was impressed with my observation at the Montessori school and the level of responsibility and respect that was given to the students.  It was so interesting that the teacher never called out students on misbehavior; rather she chose to redirect them privately. The students were able to choose their work, and go at their own pace with guidance, which is optimal for development (Worth Publishers, 2002b). I found it to be a healthy, supportive, accepting, and accommodating environment (Snow, 2003-2009).

One insight that I had relating to global awareness is the stressor of poverty. Economic conditions are significant as “poverty is becoming more and not less an issue” (Smidt, 2013, p.12). Underdeveloped countries have a high mortality rate, education and health care are generally lacking, and children are often made to work. One aspect regarding the issue of economy is that parenting is often discriminatory based on the “monocultural, over-simplified and Western model” (Smidt, 2013, p. 15). I discovered that I need to be aware of any subconscious, underlying biases I might have, making assumptions that the people with lower means are not as good at parenting (Smidt, 2013, p.15).

A topic that I had assumptions about and which changed due to my study in this course had to do with a statement by Dr. Gopnik. I had not realized and am guilty of getting frustrated with young children for not focusing. Gopnik stated that young children are not able to focus on one thing because their development in their prefrontal lobe is not yet mature enough (Laureate Education, 2010a). Realizing that they are not being disrespectful, they are simply unable to focus due to brain development, helps me to be much more understanding and enjoy their distractions rather than push them to focus (Laureate Education, 2010a).

I also found it interesting when Gopnik suggested that one of the reasons that it took so long for us to understand the cognitive abilities of babies is that until then women were the caretakers, and men were the researchers (Laureate Education, 2010a). In the 1970’s, women started to become researchers as well. It was then that women began to be accepted into the research fields. Gopnik also makes the point that technological changes began and rather than subjective beliefs, objective findings were possible with videotaping (Laureate Education, 2010a).

I found Dr. Gopnik’s following statement encouraging:

 “I think one of the biggest mistakes that we can make is to think about children as if they are little grown-ups, not to recognize the differences between the way that children are functioning and adults. And sometimes, even, people think about children as if they were sort of defective adults, as if the point of childhood was to try to create an adult as quickly as you could” (Laureate Education, 2010b).

People often talk about children as if they are a bother, and often we do not appreciate childhood for the wonderful time that it is. I grew up hearing the phrase “Children should be seen and not heard.” When I became an adult, I thought that was a terrible concept. Children are fragile and need to be gently nurtured and cared for, as do delicate flowers in a beautiful garden. Dr. Gopnik shared that the longer that you have studied something, the more beautiful and fascinating it can become (Laureate Education, 2010b). I have found this to be true of my classes so far. I have become even more intrigued with all there is to learn and discover about young children. I have been exposed to more than I had imagined that I would, and I am looking forward to the future courses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 References

Berger, K. S. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers

Herr, J. (2012). Working with young children 7th ed.). Tinley Park, Ill: Goodheart-Wilcox Publishers.

Itzkowitz, S. (2013). Valuing children’s expression: A first attempt at displaying preschool art in an early childhood centre. McGill Journal of Education, 48(2). Retrieved from http://www.erudit.org/revue/mje/2013/v48/n2/1020979ar.pdf

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010a). A conversation about child development [Course media]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010b). Studying Child Development: Lessons Learned [Course media]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Saey, T. H. (2008). Dad’s hidden influence. Science News, 173(13). 200-201.

Smidt, S. (2013). The developing child in the 21st century: A global perspective on child development (2nd Ed). New York: Routledge.

Snow, K. (2003-2009). Redefining disability. Retrieved from http://www.disabilityisnatural.com/images/PDF/redefindis.pdf

Tronick, E., & Beeghly, M. (2011). Infants’ meaning-making and the development of mental health problems. American Psychologist, 66(2), 107.

Tronick, E.Z. & Weinberg, M.K. (1999). Depressed mothers and infants: Failure to form dyadic states of consciousness. Postpartum depression and child development, 54.

Worth. (Producer). (2002a). The journey through the life span: Early childhood  [DVD]. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Worth. (Producer). (2002b). The journey through the life span: Middle childhood [DVD]. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Trauma in Early Childhood

There are various types of trauma that can affect children, such as abuse, natural disasters, loss of loved ones, poverty, and maternal depression (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child [NSCDC], 2009). Other types of trauma include illness and accidents (Herr, 2012). Chemicals also cause trauma to the body, including environmental toxins, recreational drugs, and prescription medications (NSCDC 2006). For this assignment, I found three additional articles on trauma, one on trauma from bullying, one on recovery after loss of a loved one, and the third on supporting children with trauma.

The first resource was a study just released on the outcome of bullying after 40 years (Takizawa, Maughan, & Arseneault, 2014). This study was done of all the children from England, Scotland, and Wales that were born the same week in 1958. It is called the 1958 Birth Cohort Study. Almost eight thousand children were included and just over 28% were reported to be bullied between the ages of seven and eleven. The children have been followed for over four decades so far and will be followed until death with various studies being compiled. The study showed that the adults who had been bullied as children had significant mental health differences. They had lower educational levels, their social relationships and well-being were affected, and they were less likely to be successful in relationships. They have lower quality of life, social support, and overall satisfaction with life. They were considered to be less physically, psychologically, and cognitively healthy. They have more thoughts of suicide, anxiety, and depression. These effects were true even when other factors such as IQ and parental socioeconomic status were compared.  The authors stated that “We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing-up” (Takizawa, Maughan, & Arseneault, 2014). I found this extremely interesting, yet sad, that the effects of bullying are life altering. I agree and believe this is a trauma that the schools, teachers, and other professionals need to take seriously.

The second article was “Supporting children with traumatic grief: What educators need to know” (Cohen & Mannarino, 2012). This study discusses Childhood Traumatic Grief (CTG) that occurs after a child experiences someone important to him die, and the child is unable to recover from the experience. CTG can occur even after deaths that are not disaster or violence related. The article states that educators can help by being familiar with the symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), including the child being angry or ill, withdrawing from activities, being unable to control their emotions, placing blame on themselves, being unable to concentrate during class, being forgetful, and falling asleep in class. Because these behaviors may appear in children for various reasons, it may be hard for the teacher to be able to distinguish the cause of the symptoms. This is why it is important for teachers to refer children for mental health evaluations when they recognize these symptoms. Another thing suggested is that educators be aware and sensitive of potential triggers and to discuss with the school’s mental health professionals about how to avoid them. Educators also need to remember to keep children’s issues confidential and to keep the lines of communication with the child’s parents open. This article stresses the role that educators can have in helping children with trauma (Cohen & Mannarino, 2012).

The third resource I found was the National Child Traumatic Stress Network ([NCTSN], 2010) concepts for professionals dealing with children who have experienced trauma. Some of these concepts include the fact that traumatic experiences often have layers of complexity, and children can have a wide range of thoughts and actions. Trauma may cause other problems and life changes and can affect other people in the child’s life, and trauma can change a person’s beliefs, values, and attitudes. The impact of trauma can be helped by positive factors, such as loving caregivers, and a supportive school and social environment. The final point made is that working with traumatized children can take its toll so self-care should not be neglected (NCTSN, 2010).

I had not really thought about how many children have been impacted by trauma and how difficult it might be for them to cope. I think that I assumed they were resilient and they always “bounce back.” When I consider all the types of trauma that can be experienced, it would be hard to imagine a child that hasn’t experienced some type. I admit I just never really considered the significance of children’s emotional and social development to be on par with subjects such as reading, writing and mathematics in school. However, since all the domains are interdependent, and the effects can last a lifetime, the social and emotional effects of trauma are just as important as the scholarly. Even with the youngest of children, their social and emotional needs are as critically important as their other needs. There is a big chance that many of the children that we have contact with will be affected by trauma. There can be such a wide variety of responses of children to trauma, we may not even be aware of it, become frustrated with them, and cause them more damage if we are not careful. I can see the need to take firm stands against bullying, to nurture healthy emotions in children, and to always be loving, sensitive, and patient with our students.

 

 

 

 

 

References

Cohen, J., & Mannarino, A. (2012). Supporting children with traumatic grief: What educators need to know. School Psychology International. 32(2). Retrieved from http://spi.sagepub.com/content/32/2/117.short

Centre for Longitudinal Studies. (n.d.). Publications. Retrieved from http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/Default.aspx

Herr, J. (2012). Working with young children 7th ed.). Tinley Park, Ill: Goodheart-Wilcox Publishers.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma Task Force. (2012). The 12 core concepts: Concepts for understanding traumatic stress responses in children and families. Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma. Los Angeles, CA, and Durham, NC: UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2009). Excessive stress disrupts the architecture of the developing brain (Working Paper No. 3). Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/resources/reports_and_working_papers/working_papers/wp3/

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2006). Early exposure to toxic substances damages brain architecture (Working Paper No. 4). Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/resources/reports_and_working_papers/working_papers/wp4/

Takizawa, R., Maughan, B., Arseneault, L. (2014). Adult Health Outcomes of Childhood Bullying Victimization: Evidence From a Five-Decade Longitudinal British Birth Cohort. American Journal of Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13101401

Montessori School Observation

For this observation, I chose a local Montessori school. I have been in many public school classes, but I did not know what to expect as I was not familiar with Montessori schools. The class consisted of one main teacher, an assistant, and 30 students. I had many challenges, including not knowing the teachers or the students. The students ranged from six to eleven years old. An admin person from the office took me to the classroom. My expectation was that I would be a distraction to the children. In my experience, children will scramble to get your attention as if you are a celebrity. However, the children glanced over and saw me, but went back to what they were doing. The admin motioned to the assistant, and the assistant pointed to a chair. I was not introduced to the children or the teachers. I sat and took notes and eventually the teacher came by to introduce herself. She said that she was helping the students at one table with noun phrases and the other children were working on the things that they had chosen for their work. She pointed out that she also had students in the library.

After completing the observation, I was very impressed, and I am still excited about the experience. The woman who set up the observation had asked me to come at the start of the day, and at first I kept expecting the class to begin. After observing one child for the first part of the assignment, I knew that the important thing for me to focus on for the second part was independence, autonomy, and responsibility (Berger, 2012). I was amazed to discover that the children were allowed to speak to one another freely, move around the classroom, and work cooperatively at their own pace (Worth Publishers, 2002). They were learning on their own, and getting help from their peers. I had a hard time comprehending that they were all working at different things at their own rate. As they worked independently, they appeared to be self-sufficient (Worth Publishers, 2002). I am used to the public schools where the teacher stands at the front of the class, and the children sit in chairs in rows. In my experience, a student must raise their hand to say anything or move anywhere out of their chair. I am used to all the students working on the exact same thing, and teachers having to tell students repeatedly to calm down, and often for the room to be in chaos.

This Montessori teacher never addressed the entire class. I am used to a teacher calling out students on misbehavior loud enough for everyone to hear. It is a shaming technique that is disrespectful to children and children typically return the disrespect. But I have never seen an alternate solution. This teacher would get up, walk over to the student, and ask them in a patient voice what they were working on. She would get them back on track if their focus wandered. I noticed that except for once or twice, she said “what are you working on?” rather than “what are you doing?” It was asked as a question, not as an accusatory statement, and not loud or angry. A couple of times the children would say they were finished and she would ask them “what do you need to work on next?”

This level of responsibility that the students are given essentially narrows down to respect. They are basically treated as adults at work. They have assignments to do, are given the time to do them with oversight, and are allowed to work with their peers to accomplish it. This would be consistent with Vygotsky, who believed that learning takes place through interaction with adults and peers in the school setting (Berger, 2012). Berger made the point that some school environments are quiet and some are rich in speech. This school setting impressed me with the amount of constant chattering between students. I could not always make out what was said, since I was sitting on the sidelines, but all the students were speaking to one another. The subject in the first part of the assignment was singing with her friend as my time ended. The freedom afforded them was amazing. They also were given the opportunity to learn French as a second language, which puts them in the less than 5 percent of children in the U.S. under age 11 who study a second language (Berger, 2012).

Their psychosocial needs are nurtured as they are given this freedom, responsibility, and respect (Berger, 2012). I could tell that they are able to take part in the activities of the school room according to rules which helps their brain to function cognitively (Worth Publishers, 2002). I saw that they were mostly segregated by gender. Although occasionally they would come together to ask questions, most all the groups were divided into boys and girls. I thought it was interesting that the boy asked for the answer, and the others would help him, but would not give him the answer. They had a definite sense of fairness. The children appeared to belong, which means that is a safe setting that will facilitate their learning. Also, it supports peer relationships, which is critically important at this stage (Berger, 2012).

I found it exciting that they are learning through real life experiences, which is another way to encourage independence and autonomy (Berger, 2012). They are gaining real life business experiences. The room had huge windows overlooking a grassy yard. In it, there was a chicken coop. I was told that the students take care of the chickens and are preparing an egg selling business. They also had raised garden beds and they had plants ready to be planted. They have a pizza business where some of the students make the pizza, others deliver them, and others take care of the finances. The students and teachers can give cash or are given a debit card and the students in charge of the finances have to keep track of how much their customers have paid, owe, and are owed change.

The young girl I observed appeared to be deeply involved in her work and when I had the opportunity to see what she was doing, it was about horses. The boys were counting money and giving change to one another. Another student was counting zeros on a chart. Someone else was working on the financial records for the pizza business. Several children were sitting and reading quietly. They were each working on what they enjoyed.

I did not see them move around too much other than around the class so I could not see large motor skills. There was no big gym outside, just the chicken coop, gardens, and large yard with a teepee made out of branches. I did not get the chance to view their schedule to see how often they go outside. I do not know about the Montessori view or value of play.  However the room had ample wooden unit blocks, there were bridges made out of popsicle sticks, encyclopedias, chapter books, and books on science, art, and social studies. It was an environment rich for learning (Berger, 2012).

When our class discussed special need students earlier, I had wondered how a teacher could handle every type of student, from learning disabled, to those with ADHD, and those who are gifted (Berger, 2012). I thought that no teacher could be everything to every student, and they cannot. But after observing this classroom, I saw how the younger and older, more abled and less abled children assisted one another. The environment, rules, and expectations set each child up for success. It was a less intrusive, more accepting and accommodating environment that was supportive (Snow, 2003-2009). The teacher was not everything to every student; however she was a guide and facilitator in their learning. The students were set up for independent learning (Berger, 2012). This is what the video on observing middle childhood promoted as the ultimate goal: that when we are thinking of development, we need to remember that each student must go at their own pace and our role is to guide them so that they are able to develop at their own pace (Worth Publishers, 2002).

There is much more that I could say about this experience. I was thoroughly impressed. I have to wonder if U.S. schools employed more of the basic Montessori principles would there be a huge effect on students’ attitudes, performance, and self-esteem? I feel that I observed the perfect example of how educators can facilitate intellectual advances, independence, and autonomy (Berger, 2012, p. 378).  I wish that I had known more about Montessori schools in the past; however, I feel that this experience helped me to think outside of the box in regards to what middle school children are capable of and how they should be treated by the teacher. I have learned that educators can encourage students to develop friendships, even to work with their peers, and the classroom can remain calm and respectful. Middle school students can be trusted to be responsible, to choose from their own interests, and to work independently.

 

 References

Berger, K. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). “Observing Children Part 3: School-Age Children” [Video webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_4743633_1&content_id=_15898253_1

Smidt, S. (2013). The developing child in the 21st century: A global perspective on child development (2nd Ed). New York: Routledge

Snow, K. (2003-2009). Redefining disability. Retrieved from http://www.disabilityisnatural.com/images/PDF/redefindis.pdf

Worth. (Producer). (2002). The journey through the life span, middle childhood [DVD]. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Art

Reflection: Art and children

The topic that sparked my interest this week from the DVD is children and art.  In the video The Journey through the life Span (Worth Publishers, 2002), it was stated that a great time to observe a child’s fine motor abilities is during arts and crafts.  It was further stated that young children do not care much about the outcome of their art, but they are likely to enjoy making a large mess. In my daycare program, we have a daily arts and crafts time.  I have always loved art myself, and I enjoy letting the children get messy and create wonderful works of art.  Arts and crafts time is always the favorite part of our day.  I thought that it would be interesting to see what the benefits of arts and crafts are for young children.

Art is an opportunity that helps children in their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development (Herr, 2012). It allows for practice in building fine motor skills through such activities as drawing, coloring, cutting, gluing, and painting. It helps to strengthen hand-eye coordination. Through art, cognitive growth is promoted as children explore, experiment, and learn to problem solve. Art allows children to discover and experiment with color, texture, shape, and size (Herr, 2012).

Art helps children develop socially as they learn to work with one another, appreciate the work of their friends, and share the supplies (Herr, 2012).  Children also discover that there are rules or steps that they must take in order to participate in the activity, such as wearing a smock, storing their supplies, and cleaning up.  Art helps children in their emotional development as they experiment with expressing their emotions.  Their choice of activity may sometimes be an expression of their feelings.  Children may rip paper or pound and squish play dough to take out their frustrations.  Children may express love when they choose to paint their family (Herr, 2012).

As educators, what we believe about art may be influenced by our view of ourselves, of children, and even of art itself (Wright, 2010).  Some teachers believe in child centered art, while others may believe in structured art classes.  While some teachers may value the self-expression of art, others may be outcome oriented.  Certain professionals look at art as a language, believing that a child’s art symbolizes the child’s thoughts.  Art advocates may worry that when children are not taught the skills to use various art tools, the children will be hindered from being able to express themselves through their art.  Due to all the varying positions, some teachers may be hesitant that they can teach art correctly (Wright, 2010).

A healthy approach to art instruction is to aim to help children to think for themselves, rather than to expect them to only follow directions (Wright, 2010).  Educators can inform children that they can communicate through art, while they give them rich experiences with a variety of materials.  Children should be given ample time and materials to explore with drawing, painting, modeling, and such.  A variety of tools such as pencils, markers, and brushes can be given in a variety of thickness, shape, and such.  Children should be given access to a generous supply of colors and be given the ability to make and learn geometrical shapes (Wright, 2010).

With young children, ages 2 to 6, the educator should keep in mind that it is the process of creating art that is important, not the outcome (Herr, 2012).  To encourage young children, adults should not ask the child questions, but should comment on the line, color, or shape that the child is using or state the way that the art makes you feel (erHe

Herr, 2012).  Educators should strive to encourage independence and self-expression. The work of a child is play (Worth Publishers, 2002).

I enjoy art and observe daily my children’s excitement at art time. However, I did not realize that art had so many benefits for children’s developmental growth (Herr, 2012).  The ways that I can encourage healthy development through art is to have ample and varied materials for open ended art.  I can encourage them to be child-directed in their process.  I can encourage them to explore and be careful on how I comment. I can display their work to encourage them (Itzkowitz, 2013). It is great to discover that such a fun and rewarding part of our day not only inspires their creativity and stimulates their imagination, but also promotes healthy development.

 References

Berger, K. S. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Dunn, J. (2006). Moral development in early childhood and social interaction in the family. Handbook of moral development, 331-350. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=PTVHAQAAQBAJ&oi=
fnd&pg=PA135&dq=early+childhood+morality&ots=mdxjb_9s47&sig=L7w1XbBIgViZ0nhd_VaZPIg71to#v=onepage&q=early%20childhood%20morality&f=false

Itzkowitz, S. (2013). Valuing children’s expression: A first attempt at displaying preschool art in an early childhood centre. McGill Journal of Education, 48(2). Retrieved from http://www.erudit.org/revue/mje/2013/v48/n2/1020979ar.pdf

Poole, C., Miller, S. A., & Church, E. (2005). How Empathy Develops: Effective Responses to Children Help Set the Foundation for Empathy. Early Childhood Today, 20(2), 21-25. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ726353

Worth. (Producer). (2002). The journey through the life span, infants and toddlers [DVD]. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Wright, S. K. (2003). The arts, young children, and learning. Pearson College Division. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/
reference/article/art-important-young-children/

Affordances

Paper from week # 2 of early childhood development:

 

While watching the video, “The Journey through the Life Span, Part 1, Infants and Toddlers,” I chose to review the subject of affordances because it was not a term that I was familiar with in reference to early childhood (Worth Publishers, 2002). Affordances are the opportunities that are presented to individuals by everything that is in their environment that can be perceived or interacted with (Berger, 2012). Affordances are the things that are in a baby’s environment that can include, but is not limited to toys, food, and affection (Bergen, 2008).

Affordances can be any number of things that attract attention (Bergen, 2008). Babies enjoy exploring things that they can suck, grasp, hit, pat, roll, and shake. Development can be fostered by giving little children plenty of interaction, play time, and by offering materials that can be used in many ways. Infants have a preference for people, especially faces (Berger, 2012).  Babies delight in watching your face as you talk with them, touching your face, and watching you as you react to their sounds. Babies also love things that move, such as balls, mobiles, and the gentle blowing leaves on trees. As I thought about affordances, I could not help but compare my own childhood with current times, where there is now an overload of plastic and ‘complex’ infant toys with sounds and lights.

One of the most interesting things for me about affordances in this section of our text is the quote “You see what you expect or are trained to see, not what is there” (Berger, 2012, p. 169). This is a compelling thought. What we think we see is not what might actually be real. Perception is the “first step of information processing” (Berger, 2012, p. 169). Similar to what is input into a computer, a sensation is our information input, and the first step to process that information is perception. How something is perceived determines how it can be interacted with. Age has an effect on affordances as experience gives us a different perspective. Berger (2012) gives the example of a toddler’s desire to run in a meadow unaware of a bull grazing there.

Perception and affordances are explained by the research completed on depth perception (Worth Publishers, 2002).  Electronic monitoring showing changes in the baby’s heart rate proves that a small infant can see a drop at a visual cliff (Berger, 2012).  But the baby does not have the experience to understand that it will result in a painful fall. On the video, young children were faced with a gradually declining slope. The younger the child, the more eager the child was to take the slope with no caution. As the child ages, the child is more careful.  The child is able to not just see, but to cognitively process the danger (Worth Publishers, 2002).

Last fall, I had a teacher who mused that so many technological changes have happened over the past couple of decades, that it is hard to even fathom what the children of today will have in the future. The affordances of the future will change, as they have changed since I was young. I was not afforded computers when I was young, but in my daycare infants like to play at the computer by banging on the keyboard as young as eight months. Newborns are comforted by automated swinging bassinets.  From the experiences of my past compared to infants today, it seems like a different culture. Children in different cultures are afforded different opportunities. However, the preference for faces is rewarded across all cultures and all time, as is movement, even though what is moving might be significantly different.  This is an interesting topic, and I am glad that I am now familiar with it.

 

 

 

References

Bergen, D., Reid, R.,  Torelli, L., (2008). Educating and caring for very young children: the infant/toddler curriculum (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Berger, Berger, K. S. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6th ed.). New York, NY:

Worth Publishers.

Colin, V. (1991). Infant attachment: What we know now. US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/inatrpt.htm

Worth. (Producer). (2002). The journey through the life span, infants and toddlers [DVD]. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

The changes in findings in recent decades

 

     Paper from week # one of my early childhood development class:

        I  found it very interesting to listen to Gopnik (2010) discuss the changes in research findings over the past few decades. Gopnik discusses the fact that young children and even babies know a lot more than early theorists thought. The theorists did not believe that babies were able to rationalize or relate to others. Piaget believed that children were not able to learn the perspectives of others until age 7 or 8. But in the 1970’s we started to learn differently about the abilities of very small children (Gopnik, 2010).

      Gopnik (2010) suggests that one of the reasons that it took so long for us to understand the cognitive abilities of babies is that until then women were the caretakers, and men were the researchers. In the 1970’s, women started to become researchers as well. I thought that this was an interesting point that was when women began to be accepted into the research fields. Gopnik (2010) also makes the point that technological changes began and rather than subjective beliefs, objective findings were possible with videotaping.

      Saey (2008) discusses the findings in recent decades in the importance in the biological influence of the father onto the child. Scientists have discovered that substances affect the sperm and increase the possibility of contributing to genetic abnormalities. Research shows that the offspring of male mice that were given cocaine had difficulty learning and remembering, even when the mothers had not been given it. Saey also cites research that it is indicated that males can have an effect for several generations. I think it is interesting that these types of findings, which are most likely due to technological advancements, counter earlier beliefs. Women have long been cautioned about their influence on the health of their unborn babies, but fathers typically have not (Saey, 2008).  

      Berger (2012, p. 20) discusses the findings in recent decades of mirror neurons. Scientists found that when one monkey watched another monkey reach for something, both monkeys’ brains reacted as if they had each completed the task. The monkey that observed the action had the same response by watching the other monkey. These findings may suggest that humans can learn in similar ways and research is being done because of this finding (Berger, 2012).

      I think it is interesting and exciting that although children have been around forever, that research and understanding still is new and fresh. More and more continues to be discovered about children’s development and learning. I am enthusiastic to learn that I am not just expected to memorize old facts and names, but am being introduced to a vibrant field where there are professionals working globally in multidisciplinary fields to unlock more discoveries about early childhood.

 

Berger, K. S. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers

 Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Learning about Children [Course video]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?

course_id=_4743633_1&content_id=_15898218_1

 Saey, T. H. (2008). Dad’s hidden influence. Science News, 173(13). 200-201.

 Sloan, N. L., Rojas, E. P., Stern, C., Camacho, L. W., & Maternidad Isidro Ayora Study Team. (1994). Kangaroo mother method: randomised controlled trial of an alternative method of care for stabilised low-birthweight infants. The Lancet, 344(8925), 782-785. Retrieved from http://sfxhosted.exlibrisgroup.com/waldenu?sid=google&auinit=LW&aulast=Doyle&atitle=Kangaroo mother care&id=doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)63569-6&title=Lancet (London, England)&volume=350&issue=9093&date=1997&spage=1721&issn=0140-6736

Current Influences on the Early Childhood Field

This narrative will summarize two articles from different fields of study regarding the importance of early childhood development.  I will detail the ways that the articles have broadened and deepened my understanding of the early childhood field, and explain the ways in which the information in the articles deepen my passion for the field.

The first article I intend to discuss is Children’s Emotional Development Is Built Into the Architecture of Their Brains (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child [NSCDC], 2004).  NSCDC maintains that a child’s environment and experiences influence the growth of brain interconnections: Young children’s positive and negative emotional experiences were found to have a direct influence in the construction of their brains.  The article asserts that thinking is directly influenced by emotions. The information presented in this article deepened my knowledge of the early childhood field, because school readiness is the typical focus, and this article stresses that brain research shows that emotional and social development are equally important (NSCDC, 2004).

The second article that I chose is called the Patterns of Play (National Institute for Play [NIFP], 2009).  This article summarizes seven patterns of play: attunement play, body play and movement, object play, social play, imaginative and pretend play, story-telling and narrative play, and transformative-integrative and creative play. The article states that these various types of play have an effect on children’s brain development, help children to understand their own body, and assist children in understanding the world.  The article asserts, “With the advent of brain imaging technology, these natural tendencies, so important to adaptation in a changing world, may be better understood and fostered” (NIFP, 2009).  While I already have a deep appreciation for the value of play in young children, this article deepened my understanding of the importance of play as also being an integral part in the development of the brain (NIFP, 2009).

Both of the articles deepened my understanding of the early childhood field by introducing me to the neurobiological aspects of child development. I find it exciting that brain research shows concretely the positive impact of play (NIFP, 2009), as well the importance of emotional and social aspects of child development (NSCDC, 2004).  After reading these articles, I listened to Neuroscientist Richard Davidson expound on research on the effects of social and emotional experiences on the brain structure, demonstrate brain imaging, and explain how simple patience, calmness, and kindness are actually skills that can be modeled to help to physically train and change children’s brains (Davidson, 2007).  Searching further, I discovered Davidson has written a book The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel, and live–and how you can change them, where he describes brain designs that he labels “emotional styles” (Davidson & Begley, 2013).  Davidson talks about each style and about the ability of the brain to change.  I would recommend this resource as it offers valuable insight into the human brain and comprehension into developing emotions, which educators can apply to positively improve their students’ emotional development (Davidson & Begley, 2013).

I find the findings and implications of brain studies on early childhood to be fascinating and look forward to discovering more about it. I am encouraged to find information that demonstrates simply being nice and encouraging (Davidson, 2007) and incorporating various types of play in my profession (NSCDC, 2004) would have such an important impact in the lives of the children in my care.  It is exciting that the field of neuroscience gives physical evidence that shows the youngest years of life is important and significant.

 

References

Davidson, R. (2007). The heart-brain connection: The neuroscience of social, emotional, and academic learning. [Video webcast]. Edutopia. The George Lucas Foundation. Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://www.edutopia.org/richard-davidson-sel-brain-video

Davidson, R., & Begley, S. (2013). The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel, and live–and how you can change them. (1st ed., pp. 1-5). New York, NY: Penguin Group. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/0452298881/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

The National Institute for Play. (2009). Play science-the patterns of play. Retrieved  http://www.nifplay.org/states_play.html

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2004). Children’s emotional development is built into the architecture of their brains (Working Paper No. 2). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu