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Play vs. Learning: It Isn’t a Competition

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More and more often, I notice articles, social media posts and television hosts asking the question “Should your early learner be playing or learning?”The question might be disguised in a sensational headline or a TV soundbite as alleged proof that learning is more important than playing.Just like so many other stories vying for your attention, these claims are a means of getting you to click or tune in and are not based in best practices for teaching young children.
We’ve learned not to believe everything we read and that couldn’t be truer than about the information being disseminated regarding learning and play.It isn’t a competition.Children do not either learn or play. They learn while they play.Early learning requires your children to be engaged, to have their curiosity piqued and to be interactive with their environment.Young children learn best, learn the most and learn more deeply while they play.
Think about the best learning experience you have ever had in your life.It doesn’t…

Tips for Asking Good Questions: Ignite the Thinking in the Young Child’s Brain

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Do you want young children to stretch their thinking?You don’t need elaborate toys, tablets or endless worksheets.In fact, those items can impede deeper learning.You need something that cannot be purchased.You need an understanding of good questions.
Good questions make people think.Those are the questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes, no or one word answer.Good questions require us to take a moment, ponder the situation and consider our reply.You know what good questions are – they make you say, “Hmm – that’s a good question.I have to think about it.”
Though we recognize them when they are asked of us, we too often only ask simple, one-dimensional questions when we speak with children.If you are going to ask a question when speaking with your child and it starts with “What is..,” or “Which one….” please stop.“What” and “Which one” questions tend to require only a quick answer that doesn’t require much critical thinking.
I was working with two children who were up to their e…

Blaming Children Without Real Facts: If You Didn’t See It Happen, You Don’t Know…

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Two preschool age children are playing together.There is a noise on the other side of the room so you instinctively turn your head.Before you can turn back around, one of the two children is holding her arm and crying.You didn’t see what happened.
It happens every day in child care settings, at home, in playgrounds. Something happened but no one saw it.You feel that you need to find out what happened and you try to ascertain the truth from the young children.They will be hard pressed to tell you the facts exactly as they occurred. One child is emotional and the other is usually confused by the commotion or fearful of your response.
If you didn’t see what happened, you don’t know.You simply don’t know.It is possible that the child who seems to be a victim instigated the incident.It is possible that the child being accused of hurting someone didn’t mean to and it was an accident.Really, if you didn’t see it, anything is possible.
In the United States, we are innocent until proven guilty.Ye…