How Timed Math Worksheets Cause Anxiety and Erode Learner Confidence

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How Timed Math Worksheets Cause Anxiety and Erode Learner Confidence

“If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns.” ~ Rita Dunn We have it in our minds that forcing children to learn through rigid, rote, pressured means is both useful and kind. It is neither. Children do not learn by sitting at desks for hours on end with a pencil and note/textbook, but rather by moving, exploring and engaging with the realities of life. There are countless ways children can learn math other than with the inappropriate, and dare I say, cruel means of timed math worksheets. They can play with blocks, measure ingredients with their imaginary baking set, or simply count clouds in the sky. Research shows that children learn math […]

The Power of Letting Kids Play at School ~ A Success Story for Students and Teachers

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The Power of Letting Kids Play at School ~ A Success Story for Students and Teachers

“For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living, and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.” ~ Penelope Leach During one of my Remembering to Play playshops, an Early Learning Professional shared how allowing more play in and outside the classroom has benefited both students and teachers in dramatic and unexpected ways. Here is what she told me: As part of an initiative to slowly move towards more play in our school, we have increased the children’s playtime in our classroom to a minimum of 45 minutes to sometimes one hour per day (from 20-30 minutes). We have […]

Remembering the Soulfulness of Play ~ Trusting the Intelligence of Play to Raise a Child

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Remembering the Soulfulness of Play ~ Trusting the Intelligence of Play to Raise a Child

I wonder… “Wisdom begins in wonder.” ~ Socrates “I wonder”—two of my favorite words. Despite loving the luscious openness of the inquiry, I’m not always good at wondering. Sometimes I get stuck gazing through a fixed lens, trapped in myopia, thinking I know what’s right when really I can’t possibly know. The gift of wonder is that it invites me to soften my tired focused eyes for a moment, exhale and open. It is a resting space between my litany of beliefs and opinions where I can swim free like a child in seas of unchartered possibilities. It is the unraveling of my clenched working-mind, a limen into the mysterious that no thought can lead me to. For these reasons, wonder is not easy. The […]

The Co-Revolution: Teaching Kids to Self-Regulate is Not Enough ~ It’s Time to Heal Our Own Trauma and Co-Regulate

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The Co-Revolution: Teaching Kids to Self-Regulate is Not Enough ~ It’s Time to Heal Our Own Trauma and Co-Regulate

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” ~ Haim G. Ginott The new buzzwords in child development and education are self-regulation, trauma and attachment. Thank goodness! I’m so glad we are recognizing the burden of pain, depression and anxiety kids are carrying, and the support […]

Offer Fear a Place to Sit…and Let Creativity Come Out and Play!

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Offer Fear a Place to Sit…and Let Creativity Come Out and Play!

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” ~ Charles Brower During a recent playshop, we decided to offer Fear a place to sit. Fear’s presence needed to be acknowledged. It didn’t serve anyone to pretend it was not in the room. Fear, after all, is one of the great impediments to being playful and creative. We fear being judged, doing it “wrong”, looking too silly, failure etc. Fear doubts the innate artist within, demands perfection, and devises unnecessary plans to ensure we avoid unexpected pitfalls and looking “stupid”. It works us hard! Today’s kids have become so fearful of […]

Why Kids Need to Question, Not Conform ~ Unleashing Creativity and the Rascal Within

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Why Kids Need to Question, Not Conform ~ Unleashing Creativity and the Rascal Within

“Creativity is an act of defiance.” ~ Twyla Tharp My mother will tell you that when I was a child I asked “Why?” a lot. My inquisitive nature was more than just a simple childlike curiosity, though. I was provocative, bent on challenging the facts of life, eager to question conventional thought and practice. Like many kids, there was a little rascal in me who wanted to be different, have a voice, and say No. Little did I, or my mother, realize that this rascal had a larger purpose—to forge a path that brings new thought and possibilities into the world. Questioning is a natural and necessary part of any change process. Asking “Why?”, wondering, imagining, dreaming new dreams, engaging in healthy open discussions, and […]

The Moonlit Forest Path of Inquiry ~ 8 Questions to Nurture the Heart and Creativity of Children

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The Moonlit Forest Path of Inquiry ~ 8 Questions to Nurture the Heart and Creativity of Children

“Who am I?” “What is the purpose of life?” “What brings me joy?” “What are my gifts?” “What really matters?” “What do I know for certain?” “What is it to belong?” “What is it to love?” To nurture the Heart and Creativity of children, we must travel down the moonlit forest path of inquiry asking ourselves the eight questions listed above. These are not questions many of us were encouraged to explore, and so the path may seem dark, strange and unfamiliar. And yet, what are the consequences of a society that only travels 100 feet, a few yards, or stops at the trailhead? How might our reticence impact how we perceive ourselves, life, how we treat children, what we deem as being important? And what […]

Let Children Play and they Remain in a State of Flow ~ They Move with the Intelligence of Life

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Let Children Play and they Remain in a State of Flow ~ They Move with the Intelligence of Life

Letting children play allows them to remain in a state of flow. This is incredibly vital given that flow is the natural state of life. Nature does not force, rather it moves as a young child moves, instinctually, with the intelligence of the whole guiding it through quiet whispers and nudges. It simply knows, in the same our heart knows; it knows without knowing how it knows. When children give themselves over to their play, and specifically unstructured play, they move as a river does, as the heart does, moment-to-moment, fluid and free. It is within this natural state that they stay connected to their inner whispers and nudges, the ancient impulses of life that breathe into their hand as they doodle, into their thoughts […]

Playful Quotes for the Child in your Heart

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Playful Quotes for the Child in your Heart

Enjoy this selection of quotes on play from luminaries past and present. These teachers express why play is so vital to our professional paths, creativity, purpose, relationships, learning, personal well-being and connection to life. And of course, they elucidate why play serves the health and development of children. You will see that I have weaved in a few of my own quotes as well. If your appetite for quotes is not quite satiated, check out my list of Inspiring Quotes for Child Learning and Development and Inspiring Quotes to Ignite Imagination, Wonder and Laughter. I also encourage you to watch this short, fun and inspiring video called Come Out & Play ~ Embracing Life’s Infinite Playground. Also… check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative […]

The Core Reason We “Ready” Children Too Early and Too Much

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The Core Reason We “Ready” Children Too Early and Too Much

The Guest House — by Jellaludin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks  This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.   A playshop participant of mine recently told me how challenging it was for her daughter to enter grade […]