Education

two children building a structure with outlast blocks

Why we must return to kindergarten

Two centuries ago, Friedrich Froebel combined the German words for “children” and “garden” to illustrate his revolutionary approach to early childhood education – kindergarten. He envisioned a fertile environment where young children blossom and grow into creative, free-thinking individuals. Through meticulous observations he arrived at the conviction that a child’s natural play and exploration is the primary mode for learning.

Often, this “children’s garden” becomes the bottom rung on a pressure-packed, test-driven, educational ladder. How can play be restored to this important chapter of a child’s life? For some thoughts from US educators, read this article.

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Pete Moorhouse working with children

Memories that last

"You are told a lot about your education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since childhood, is perhaps the best education of all."
–Fyodor Dostoevsky 

Do you remember that teacher who was larger-than-life? A 'big person' who made the little person feel a bit less vulnerable and a lot more capable? Pete Moorhouse does this for children when he teaches them to use a hammer or a camera. 

Here's part of a recent conversation with Pete: What’s so good about wood?
 
children doing cart wheels

Every child a mover

"Physical development sits at the heart of wellbeing, learning and development - and it creates school readiness."
- Jan White

Jan White’s latest book, Every child a mover inspires us to support physical activity in children.  She explores the different types of movement that children crave, and gives many ideas for creating a "movement-rich environment and culture."

Children develop through moving, particularly outdoors. Everything from balance and coordination to eyesight, handwriting, emotional development and "school readiness" is informed by the amount of physical activity a child engages in.

Every child a mover will help you look at your outdoor and indoor environment with new eyes, and find ways to provide rich opportunities for children to develop their full potential.

Read an excerpt and buy a copy of Every child a mover here.

Evelyn

boy stacking blocks

Making maths matter

Much attention is being given to encourage maths at younger and younger ages. As practitioners we can feel under pressure; are we giving our children enough opportunities for maths?

 

I recently came across this helpful article by Pradnya Patet. “Children may naturally demonstrate their intuitive knowledge about math in the process of play but mathematical proficiency does not just emerge on its own,” she writes. “Once the teacher has observed and assessed the exploration already happening, they should think about ways to make the children’s investigation more meaningful.”

 

Read the article for practical ideas of how to “add, subtract, multiply, and divide appropriate resources in a way that will encourage the children to problem-solve on their own”

Child feeding toy dog

Encouraging empathy through imaginative play

The home corner hums with family life. Katy is busily feeding Blue Doggie some milk when Daddy trips on his shoelace. In response to his howls, Katy jumps up, hugs him and sits her dog in his lap. "Don't cry Daddy, Mummy will make you a cup of tea."

Most practitioners would agree that imaginative play strengthens communication, problem solving and creativity. But do we realise its importance in encouraging empathy? As children play act different roles, they have to put themselves in someone else's shoes and imagine what they might be feeling.

Children who frequently immerse themselves in imaginative play are often especially sensitive to their playmates' feelings. When children understand the feelings of others, it reduces bullying and aggression and helps them build positive relationships. So an environment that inspires imaginative play can also foster empathy.

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