Reflection

It is hard to believe that we have come to the end of our second course leading toward our doctoral degrees.  It has been a long sixteen weeks (amid a very long winter) but those weeks were rich in experience and learning.

One of the most satisfying experiences for me this past semester was the deep involvement in my “Project”.  I chose the topic of resilience for my project and as I uncovered layer after layer of research, I found so much that resonated with me, my own childhood, and my vision for the early childhood field.  My research led me to articles about play and the importance of risk-play and outdoor play–two concepts familiar to me from my own childhood, but sadly lacking in most children’s experience today.  I was inspired by the research and advocacy of the Alliance for Childhood (www.allianceforchildhood.org) and its focus on play, on developmentally appropriate practices, and its unfailing opposition to current education mandates that fail to reflect (or understand) how young children learn.

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Children need to play outdoors and they need challenge and risk in their play.

 

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These images remind me of my own childhood, when we were allowed to create and discover on our own.  In my reading this past semester I often saw the the words: Make children’s play space as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible.  That makes perfect sense to me.  We need to allow children to try and fail and try again.  Child-led “risk” play fosters healthy development across all domains including resilience and critical thinking skills that come naturally with freedom in play.

 

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I love this poster and this website.  It is full of wonderful and inspirational information about connecting children to nature.

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One of the most profound things that came from my work this semester was the realization that one person can truly make a difference in a child’s life.  I found many examples of this in my research on resilience.  I have always been a self-proclaimed “champion of childhood” and I feel strongly that children should not be hampered by adult issues.  However, sometimes it is hard to shelter them from images or negative experiences no matter how hard you try. I like this quote from Mr Rogers, whose mother found a way to find the positive among all the negative:

 

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As early childhood professionals, we may have the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life, and we may even be that helper that buffers the harshness of the world.   I hope we all find a way to be “champions of childhood”.  I can think of no better calling.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Reflection

  1. Hi Julia,
    Outdoor play is very important in a young child’s life. Children who take risk and are allowed to move out of there comfort zone are creative, resilient and self confidence. At many schools teachers are telling children to stop running and climbing because school district are afraid if law suits from parents if the child suffers a injury. School district officials would be amazed at how well an outdoor program that is well staffed with intentional teachers could promote learning through outdoor play that includes running and climbing.

    Angela Greathouse

    Reference
    Taylor, J. (2014).Risk Taking for Your Children: How Much is Enough. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201403/risk-taking-your-children-how-much-is-enough

    Families.com. (2014). Encouraging Children to Take Risk. Retrieved fromhttp://www.families.com/blog/encouraging-children-to-take-risks

    • Hi Angela,
      I agree completely! I think our society is critically hampered by its rabid devotion to accountability (and blame-placing) and the resulting lawsuits. I do not think that change will come from administration or government–the people, themselves, need to be informed and empowered to demand that children be allowed to develop naturally through risk-play and outdoor play. I am encouraged to see new outdoor preschools cropping up here and there–and the fact that they are successful and most have waiting lists should send a message to the policy-makers that people are starting to understand the connection between risk/outdoor play-based learning and optimum development. I hope the trend continues to gain strength.
      Thank so much for your response!
      Julie

  2. Julie,
    I absolutely agree it’s hard to believe that we have come to the end of this course. Whew! It started out as a tremendous task but as I got into the issues and discussions I began to enjoy it more. I really enjoyed your discussions on resilience. That was a new topic for me and I really appreciate you opening my eyes and helping me to be more informed about how children deal with mental, and emotional issues. I always looked forward to post from you and I wish you much success as you continue on in your degree. Who knows, maybe I will see your name in a future course.
    Angela

    • Hi Angela,
      Thank you for your kind words. I have enjoyed working with you this semester. I admire your way of presenting your ideas and I always found your posts insightful and meaningful. I also truly appreciate the feedback you gave me in our small group discussion. Enjoy this short break and I hope to see you in our next class!
      Julie

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