Early Childhood Express January 2021

Two children play with fake snow

In case you need to hear it:

Your students are not falling behind. They are surviving a pandemic.
Educators: You are not behind. You are also surviving a pandemic!
And THANK YOU for every ounce you give!

I have wondered about our concerns about remote learning and that the children we’re seeing on Zoom or Google or whatever platform your school is using, are not learning… are not going to be ready for kindergarten standards when they move on in the fall. But a reminder—these are the same children who, whether developing typically or with developmental challenges — learned to communicate and move their bodies; learned to eat, and with most, feed themselves; sit in the bath, put on pajamas and listen to a story. Many of the skills they have they learned from the adults or siblings in their world and then practiced through their play. Your work with children and their families over the past ten months, when you’ve focused on your partnerships with families, caregivers, and your therapy team, has opened the door for families to focus on supporting their childrens’ play. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ve learned… though it might not be the facts and figures or the specific skills you tried to teach remotely… they are and have learned. And though what they’ve learned after spending their days in play, may not translate specifically into those kindergarten standards, their play has translated into seeing themselves as learners… so much more important than meeting a set of standards at five.

Here’s a terrific article on play by Denisha Jones, Ph.D, J.D, who is the director of Early Childhood Organizer and Director of the Art of Teaching program at Sarah Lawrence College.

Penn GSE’s Sharon Ravitch has been thinking about what she is calling flux pedagogy: the integration of relational and critical pedagogy frameworks into a transformative teaching approach in times of radical flux. If you are curious, Ravitch wrote a blog post where she begins to explore these ideas in depth as well as an article on teaching through crisis. Especially if you’ve been focusing on the adults in your students’ world, these articles are for you.

Additude, one of my favorite newsletters with information about ADD/ADHD, has published a recap of its favorite articles from the past year, including topics such as Don’t Mistake Your Child’s ADHD for Bad Behavior and Why Your Brain Becomes Paralyzed in Quarantine. Find them and others at the Additude website.

The Faculty Lounge, a newsletter from Harvard Business Publishing Review, shares lots of information on resilience. In the December 15 newsletter, the writers share, “What you, as educators, have pulled off this past ten months is nothing short of miraculous. You dealt with an almost overnight shift to on-line teaching while coping with the pandemic stress of your students and families and colleagues… not to mention what you and your families have been coping with.”

Are you keeping up with Brain Architects, the Harvard Center on the Developing Child? December’s issue is about Connecting Health and Learning: The Science. You can read or listen at this and several back issues on the Developing Child website.

Amanda Kipnis teaches elementary special education for students with moderate to severe disabilities in Lemon Grove, Calif. When she was asked to gear up to teaching her special education students remotely for the 202-21 year she came up with a few ideas to help. Though they are for older children, her ideas for using technology should easily translate into your remote work.

Society is like a lawn, where every roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eye is delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface; he, however, who would study nature in its wildness and variety, must plunge into the forest, must explore the glen, must stem the torrent, and dare the precipice.
-Washington Irving, writer (1783-1859)

HAPPY EXPLORING

This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the January 2021 Early Childhood Express.