4 Criteria for Teaching and Learning ~ Empowering Both Teacher and Student

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4 Criteria for Teaching and Learning ~ Empowering Both Teacher and Student

In my playshops with teachers we have regular conversations about what structures support and limit education. We discuss how certain structures, that we think need to be put in place, may in fact get in the way of a child’s learning and development. Education is ongoing balance between structure and flow. Too much structure and we stifle the child’s creative spirit and capacity to make decisions for herself. Too much flow and there may not be a container, and enough guidance or safety. It is my personal opinion that for teaching and learning to thrive, any structure used should meet the following four criteria: Does it support the child’s safety? Does it support the child’s academic development? Does it support the child’s creativity and imagination? Does it support the child’s self-esteem and empowerment, including her capacity to be self-directed? […]

How to Turn a Snake into a Sword ~ From Reasoning to Playing Along

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How to Turn a Snake into a Sword ~ From Reasoning to Playing Along

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt A three-year-old girl was attempting to play with her older brothers who were messing around with swords. The mother didn’t know why she was bothering her brothers’ boyish fun, and was tempted to redirect her to something more suitable. In that moment, however, she caught herself. She went on to say, “Instead of reasoning, I met her in her world.” The daughter had a toy snake in her hand, and the mother moved next to her and suggested that maybe she could use it as a sword. She played along with her daughter’s imaginative impulses, and validated her in the process. Mom parked her […]

Go Outside and Play!

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Go Outside and Play!

“Go outside and play!” said God. “I have given you Universes as fields to run free in! And here – take this and wrap yourself in it – It’s called LOVE and it will always, always keep you warm. And stars! The sun and the moon and the stars! Look upon these often, for they will remind you of your own light! And eyes… oh, gaze into the eyes of every Lover; gaze into the eyes of every other for they have given you their Universes as fields to run free in. There. I have given you everything you need. Now go, go, go outside and play!” “Go Outside and Play” – from Home Remembers Me: Medicine Poems from em claire ©em claire All Rights […]

Doing For Versus Playing With ~ Balancing Responsibilities with Joyful Connection

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Doing For Versus Playing With ~ Balancing Responsibilities with Joyful Connection

“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.” ~ Richard L. Evans   An interesting question to ask yourself is, How much did your parents play with you when you were a child? If you were one of the lucky ones, your parents played with you a lot. But for so many others, their parents were focused more on the responsibilities of being a parent than on being a playful companion. This the difference between doing for and playing with.  When we do for, we are less connected to the other, and more focused on an agenda in our minds such as driving our kids somewhere or cooking dinner. We are task oriented and in doing […]

Playing with Perspective ~ Seeing Life Through the Eyes of a Child

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Playing with Perspective ~ Seeing Life Through the Eyes of a Child

“When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.”  ~ Fred Rogers Play is not just something we do; it is a perspective from which to see life. It is a worldview that invites endless possibilities to creatively engage people, objects and places. I was hiking up a mountain a few weeks back and came across a tree that was lying on its side, tilted downwards, paralleling the steepness of the trail. One might look at this object and see only a tree that’s fallen on its side. What I immediately saw was a slide that was inviting me to […]

45 Seconds of Joy

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45 Seconds of Joy

“Grown men can learn from very little children, for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things that older people miss.” ~ Black Elk. Children are such wonderful teachers. I love how much joy they get out of the simplest things in life. They remind us to delight in the great blessings that surround us in every moment, and to be unabashed in our celebration. Start your week with a smile: Take 45 seconds to let these two little teachers connect you to the delighted and joyous child in you. “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt *             […]

Just Follow Play Date

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Just Follow Play Date

One of my playshop participants recently told me a great way to have a play date. Her daughter sent her a written invitation to play in her room at a specific date and time. A sign was placed on the door asking not to be disturbed during their play date. Once in the room, she simply followed how her daughter wanted to play. If her daughter wanted to comb her hair, she happily played along. Mom practiced The Spirit of Yes And and joyfully danced with her daughter’s playful agendas. Imagine how much this meant to her daughter. Set up a play date with a loved one and simply follow. Consider it a waltz into the unknown where the thrill of adventure lies; where control […]

Teach Wisdom

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Teach Wisdom

by Lee Carroll and Jan Tober. “We must teach children how to think, not what to think. Our role is not to pass on knowledge, but rather wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge applied. When we only give children knowledge, we are telling them what to think, what they are supposed to know, and what we want them to believe is true. When we give children wisdom, however, we do not tell them what to know or what is true – rather, we tell them how to get their own truth. I envision an educational system based upon developing children’s abilities and skills rather than their memories. Children are our guides; we should give them the ability to discover and create their own truths.” ~ from their […]

And then…

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And then…

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau. Nurturing imagination in children is an act of love. My friend had some children over and one of them suggested they build a bridge over her large pond to see the goldfish more easily. Instead of telling the child all the reasons why this cannot happen, my friend said, “Yes, and then we can stand on the bridge and see way more fish!” Then another child said, “And then we can lower a tube into the murky water so we can see the fish more easily!” And another said, “And then we could drop bits of food into the tube so we could feed them!” This went on for 30 minutes. Not once […]

3 Stages of Play ~ The Evolution of Life’s Playground

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3 Stages of Play ~ The Evolution of Life’s Playground

“First you must learn to play by the rules, then you must forget the rules and play from your heart.”  ~ Anonymous. Play occurs in three stages, each representing a different period of growth and awareness. As we evolve through these stages, we change our perception of life, and redefine the parameters and possibilities of life’s eternal playground. Stage 1: Innocent Play Stage 2: Structured Play Stage 3: Mature Play *             *             * Stage 1: Innocent Play “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ~ Albert Einstein […]