Menampilkan postingan dari Juni, 2019


The other day, a proud, loving, enthusiastic mom told me, "I like to let my child run around and burn off energy."


You might be surprised to hear that this statement, well-intended though it may be, is a pet peeve of mine. In fact, I'm so peevish about it, I've decided to share a few thoughts on the matter.

To "burn off" means to "exhaust, deplete, waste, get rid of." And, of course, when it comes to little ones, that usually means getting those ants out of their pants. Now, in my line of work I certainly understand antsy kids, and appreciate any parent wise enough to spot the signals and let their kids loose. But it's the adult logic that bugs me...

Why do adults think of kids letting loose as wasting energy, when in fact, all that running around and general silliness is the most essential fuel of early childhood development?

I call this "Huff 'n Puff" play. Let's examine it a little more closely...


MY LITTLE HERO: How Kids Learn Responsibility

Miniature toys such as dolls, action figures, toy vehicles, animals, dinosaurs, aliens, and the like are powerful tools in the hands of little ones. And for good reason. This kind of play shrinks the world down into manageable, kid-sized experiences for working out complex, emotional and social concepts. Like power...


If you think about it, when you’re little, it’s easy to conflate size with power. After all, grown-ups are big and seem to think they can tell children what to do. So when children play with miniatures they naturally take on the power role, trying on what it feels like to be big... to have the ultimate say...  to control events. And through that power, like Spiderman, children naturally learn how to take on responsibility.

You see, children aspire to be the hero they see in us everyday – the one who responds to their needs – the responsible, reliable, "go to." And that desire to be like us is often reflected in this kind of play... feeding your baby dol…


Last week, I spoke at the New Zealand Early Childhood Council National Conference in Auckland.  In response to the conference theme of "Innovation & Courage in Early Childhood Education," my presentation was entitled "Born Risk Takers." Here's a bit of what I spoke about...

KIDS ARE BORN RISK TAKERS We've touched on this before, but I believe it bears repeating. Kids are born risk takers, not because they don't know any better, but because they have to be. Some measure of physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or social risk is involved in learning anything new. And for little ones, pretty much everything is new.

So, if risk is necessary for learning, by default, so is courage. Yet in today's risk-averse culture, we're often not giving little ones the opportunity to practice courage in favor of keeping them "safe."  In my experience, there are many ways to accomplish these two, seemingly opposite objectives. Here's a great example...


Hopscotch was one of my favorite games as a child and it still is today. In fact, Hopscotch proves one of my pet theories that (in most cases) what's fun for kids is good for kids. 

Here's my Child-At-Play/Play-At-Work analysis of this timeless, universal classic or 11 Great Reasons to Rush Out and Buy Some Chalk Today!


CHILD'S PLAY. For kids, it feels good to move, and when it feels good, they want to do it over and over again... just as the rules of Hopscotch require.

PLAY'S WORK. Believe it or not, hopping on one foot is one of the most complex movements the human body can perform. The technical term for it is homolateral movement, defined as one side of the body moving while the other side of the body is still. For children, hopping signals sophisticated advances in both physical coordination, balance, AND cognitive development. You see, as your child refines her physical coordination, she is also building essential neural pathways in t…

WEATHER TO PLAY: The Snow of August, Part 2

Weather is always a great excuse to get outside and play, but Caitlin's reluctance about the cold and the snow came as a surprise to me. She's usually a "go for it" kind of kid. (SeeThe Snows of August, Part 1)
AT THE CHILD'S PACE Despite all the convincing that needed to be done, I was quite sure once we were outside Caitlin's natural kid instinct to explore would kick in. But even so, it's best not to rush things when a little one is feeling timid. Instead, I try to follow the child's curiosity and pace while gently preparing them for new sensations. So here's what we did...

We crouched down and we felt the snow with our gloves. It felt soft and a little heavy in our hands. (Good snowman snow, I'm thinking.)

Then we decided to step on the snow. "It's like walking on the beach. Your feet sink down a little," I said, taking the first step so she could see what it looked like.

We walked across the garden feeling the snow sink under eac…