This week at work I am, in between working on a final grant report, gearing up to host an “exhibit” at TedxMileHigh (Denver’s independent Tedx event). The theme this year is “Ideas at Play,” and so a coworker and I are, naturally, going to encourage visitors to…play! We’re bringing some of the early literacy “play and learn” kits we use in our libraries as well as some of the older kid STEM ready-made activities we have, and encourage the grown ups to use them. We’ll meanwhile be bombarding them with info about the importance of play and early learning (especially) and how caring adults can play a vital role (and corgis with BB8s).
Naturally I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on the subject to pull out a few key talking points. Lucky me – a lot of interesting articles about cool (and not-so-cool) happenings around play have come out in recent weeks!
This Washington Post article ties the increase in sensory issues in preschoolers with the decline of play. Choice quotation:
Preschool years are not only optimal for children to learn through play, but also a critical developmental period. If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions. We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age.
The Huff Post has this great article on the importance of imaginative play, specifically, and some great tips for parents on how to encourage it – at every age. How’s this for a good reason to play? “This is the magical thinking of childhood that helps the brain develop creativity. This creativity, if allowed to blossom, is the same creativity that helps the scientist discover new cures for diseases, companies to come up with the next technological advances and inventions, and leaders to move their countries into peace.” MORE MAGICAL THINKING, SAY I!
NAEYC has “10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play.” My favorite is #6: “Play and learning go hand-in-hand. They are not separate activities. They are intertwined. Think about them as a science lecture with a lab. Play is the child’s lab.” GREAT analogy!
Here’s an NPR interview with Dr. Dana Suskind of the Thirty Million Words project.
And here’s an interview with the guy who scanned preschooler’s brains while they were hearing stories and gave us some visual, concrete proof that reading aloud grows brains and future reading skills.
Have you all seen the new blog Reading While White (thanks, Cory, for pointing me to it!)? In their (well, in Allie Jane Bruce’s) own words, the blog hopes to consider big questions, such as: “What advantages do White adults in the field of children’s literature experience? From what are we exempt?” and “By what mechanisms does Whiteness dominate in children’s literature, and why are these mechanisms so often invisible to us White people?” Those are some challenging, but very important, questions, and it will be interesting and thought-provoking (and hopefully discussion-provoking and introspection-provoking) to read the next posts.
Where the magic happens indeed: “Children’s illustrators open up their studios – in pictures.” Featuring Oliver Jeffers and Hervé Tullet.
In the realm of “gosh I wish my sewing skills were better” there’s the new line of Knuffle Bunny fabrics. I’ve made a couple of skirts, but they were wonky. Maybe if I used Ed Emberley’s scribble fabric, nobody would notice the wonkiness.
Finally, thanks to fellow Joint Chief Soraya, I am aware that there are videos of frolicking goats in jammies. EVERYONE needs to know about frolicking goats in jammies.