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.
Children need to play outdoors and they need challenge and risk in their play.
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.
I love this poster and this website. It is full of wonderful and inspirational information about connecting children to nature.
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:
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.