What is a major difference in children of this generation and children of the past?
Children today do not live in a 3D world. Think of life before television; what did children do? I’m sure when not working or doing chores to help the household, they created their own toys, their own games, and they ran around being a part of nature. Essentially, they were active and engaging all of their senses and enhancing their motor skills. They were living in and experiencing their worlds.
Children today spend a lot of time living in a 2D world. What does that mean? How much time is spent by today’s youth playing video and computer games and watching TV. What about all of the apps that claim to help children increase academic performance? My philosophy is it still is not as stimulating as experiencing real life! Watching a screen is passive, even if it claims to be interactive! It is still sitting down and looking at a 2D object.
Yes – that is right – keep calm and play. No matter how you “slice and dice” it, play is the way young children learn best. It is inherent, it is natural, and it is the design of optimal learning.
With early childhood education and preschool being such a hot, trending topic right now, everyone is putting his/ her hand in the pot giving his/ her two cents on what we should do to improve effectiveness and achievement. It gets overwhelming – test scores, research, assessments, common core, funding, teacher performance – being spewed from people of all walks of life – politicians, reformers, business professionals, policy makers, and yes – even educators. Being a specialist in education and development of children birth to eight, I just want to stand up and yell, “KEEP CALM AND PLAY!” Take a deep breath, relax, and just play. It is amazing what children learn in those unstructured environments – you would be surprised!
Am I saying just place children in an empty room and expect them to develop and learn? No – but when an environment is strategically planned with intentionality and purpose to promote play by a teacher knowledgeable in all domains of child development for children birth to five, it is compelling how effectively and rapidly the children learn. And what does that environment look like? More about that later …. Until then, “Keep calm and play”.