Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The One With Brains At Work #slice2014

Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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A couple of weeks ago, our Early Childhood Director presented to a group of administrators. She shared the importance of play and how exploring and playing build executive functioning in the brain. It seems like more and more, schools and parents push kids to start to read and write and count earlier. She explained how important it is for kids to develop their executive function to be able to sit still and focus later in their lives. If we don't let them play, discover and explore when they are young, it impacts them later in life when they tackle more academic learning.
The above pyramid of learning is from the Singapore Brain Development Centre. It shows how learning begins in the central nervous system, the base of the pyramid. Each level above the central nervous system must properly integrate with the previous level or levels in order for a child to be able to move on to the next level. Ultimately, the goal is to reach the highest level of the pyramid at the cognitive level of functioning. If students have garnered the lower levels of the pyramid, then they will be able to attend to the tasks of daily living and learning. For kids who haven't fully developed their executive function, maintaining focus is difficult. The video below explains more about executive function. It's interesting to think about students who have been labelled with ADD or ADHD or just those who seem restless in school. Do they come from home lives or early childhood experiences that valued play and fostered the development of executive function.
My husband is a PE teacher so we are super conscious of movement in our house. He loves to keep the kids active and find activities that get them moving and their blood pumping. After learning more about executive function, I pulled out the paints at our house. It's easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of everyday life and everything that needs to be accomplished at home and at school. I was so thankful for this reminder that taking time to dance, jump, draw, paint, act out stories and pretend are super important.

When we paint, we usually get pretty messy! Skin is way easier to clean than clothes so they boys go shirtless and we let them loose. Like I said, it had been a while since we had done any painting so it was great fun. I'm so happy for little reminders that it feels amazing to play and unwind but that it's also so imperative to child development.   
How have you taken time to let kids play lately?

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