Posts Tagged With: play

Gloria

Gloria (by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins) was our first show of the season at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. When choosing our subscription, we purposely choose Talkback Sundays shows.
About which the theater company has this to say:

“Complete every show with an in-depth conversation. Talk with the artists who create Woolly’s season, and help us turn every audience into a community.”

I find sharing questions and thoughts with the actors and other audience members make these post show conversations an excellent way to learn more about the subject matter. To stimulate thought. To simply enjoy the show even more.

Here’s what I carried with me from the theater.
The importance of making human connections.
Without this ability, we’re missing out on the opportunity to further our own human development. If we can connect with the people around us, we continue to learn important social and emotional skills. Empathy, communication, cooperation, and patience. Not to mention honing self, and social awareness, responsible decision making, and the simple ability to feel comfortable in a variety of situations. When we see other humans as competition, or road blocks to our ambition, we create a toxic environment. Toxicity is bad for all humans.

And
Who’s story is it? How is it decided? Who has the ‘right’ to a story? Who ‘gets’ to tell it?
Now this is powerful stuff!
And in some ways is directly related to a human’s social-emotional skills.
Let’s say an event impacts a group of five humans. Each human receives the event and reacts to it differently. Each of those humans share their story of the event…you get five different events. Makes sense, right?
Why?
Because we see things through the filters of our own life experience, the event is shaped to fit what we are capable of understanding and relating to.

Here’s where empathy comes into play.
If we are connected to the other humans around us, we are able to at the very least, hear and accept their points of view. We will always view everything through our own filter, but we’ll have the ability to have feels, and some sort of understanding for the other humans that shared the experience. The event itself will create more connection instead of division.
When it comes to sharing the story, there will always be different versions, but they’ll be more closely related.

But who has the right to share this story?
Those ‘most’ impacted? What does that mean? Who decides what that means?
The meaning of ‘most’ to one is not the same as to another…
Who has the right to decide one is not worthy of sharing the story?
Who has the right to profit from the sharing of the story? Does anyone have that right?

Is the power in the story, or in the telling of it?
Who has the right to the power?

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shouting from my soapbox

I saw an article this morning on Scary Mommy: Our Kids Don’t Need F@*#ing Pedal Desks, They Need Recess.
A Kentucky kindergarten teacher got a $12,000.00 grant to install ‘pedal desks’ in her classroom for (wait for it…) “when kindergartners get tired of sitting still.”

I BEG YOUR PARDON!?! (or: WHAT THE EVER-LOVING F**K!?!)
Kindergartners are five and six years old! Five and six! Is there ever a time when they DO sit still? They need to move their bodies! Their brain development relies on that!! How can they be expected to learn anything ‘strapped’ to a desk?
Is this simply another example of the misunderstanding about recess? Recess is about social interactions and imaginative play in addition to movement and exercise. Some of the most important social-emotional development happens when children play together freely.
Recess is a time for unstructured play. Children learn to respect and appreciate each other’s feelings by cooperating and taking turns. They understand that there is a natural give and take to play. If play is designed by one child and doesn’t evolve in a way the all the children like, two things can happen. They’ll either walk away which forces the change in play or they will discuss the changes they’d like to see. More often than not, the entire group will work together to create play that pleases everyone. These children practice negotiation and cooperation without even realizing it.
I’ve focused on social and emotional development and completely ignored the benefits of play to gross and fine motor development. But that seems more obvious to me.

Children need to move their bodies fairly regularly! I’m forty four years old and need to move mine often!
A classroom can and should be a place where you can move about and have different kinds of learning centers.
I know it’s hard to “meet each child where s/he is” but it’s easy to create a safe and authentic learning environment where students and teachers can move their bodies to help the teaching and learning process.

I started kindergarten in our country’s bicentennial year. I realize things have changed since then.
I remember my kindergarten class had a housekeeping area, a “writing center”, dress-ups, blocks and interlocking bricks for math. Sometimes we sat in chairs at big tables and other times we sat in a circle “Indian style” on carpet squares. We got read to and we honed our social skills through play. I could already read and write when I started kindergarten, but that’s just me. I remember loving being at school. It was fun and I actually realized I was learning. I was in half-day kindergarten and there was time for learning, snack, AND recess!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 had individual desks and chairs in their kindergarten classes. But they were grouped into fours in the center of the room to make room for the play based learning centers. Interestingly they were similar to the ones I talked about in my kindergarten classroom. There was a math center with big and little blocks and clocks to play with. I loved that! Little and big hands to move around the numbers. There was a writing center with crayons and markers and colored pencils. (Any scribbling is the beginning of writing.) There was a little kitchen and a mirror and babies.
Thing 1 was in kindergarten twenty three years after I was and there was still learning through play in kindergarten classrooms. Her teacher told me: I need them to walk into my classroom and be able to recognize their name and write it in some way that I can read it, even if it’s not right. I need them to be able to recognize number up to twenty. I need them to know their colors. The rest is up to me and the first grade teachers.
Thing 1 could do all those things, even though she wrote her nine letter name in a mix of capital and lower case letters. She was already reading a little. She was the only white girl in a class of nineteen kids. I was thrilled that she was going to experience that much diversity!
(There were 33 countries represented in our elementary school of 500 students.)

From the pedal desk article:

“Our kids need recess, not pedal desks so they can move while they work like little bots. Seriously, is this real life? Why are kindergartners even sitting in one place long enough to need pedal desks? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves.”

I believe in asking that question. But the people answering it are not educators. They don’t know what’s best for children. Here’s a thought: what if we have educators creating curriculum and education policy? Politicians designing this country’s curriculum can’t see past test scores. Gotta keep up with the Chinese and all that rot.
But in Peter Gray’s article, Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less, he writes:

“Educators in East Asian nations have increasingly been acknowledging the massive failure of their educational systems. According to the scholar and author Yong Zhao, who is an expert on schools in China, a common Chinese term used to refer to the products of their schools is gaofen dineng, which essentially means good at tests but bad at everything else. Because students spend nearly all of their time studying, they have little opportunity to be creative, discover or pursue their own passions, or develop physical and social skills. Moreover, as revealed by a recent large-scale survey conducted by British and Chinese researchers, Chinese schoolchildren suffer from extraordinarily high levels of anxiety, depression and psychosomatic stress disorders, which appear to be linked to academic pressures and lack of play.”

What’s sad is teachers have no real choice. This woman was trying to make the school day better for FIVE and SIX year olds(!!) while accomplishing the unrealistic and inappropriate goal the government set for when these children leave her classroom.
There is something inherently wrong with this country’s education system. How many lives will be negatively impacted before something changes?
Childhood was snatched away from children. They’re forced to learn and do things at ages when their brains aren’t actually developed to do them. This skips natural and necessary building processes in the brain! And they can’t go play!
My heart breaks.
And my hackles go up!

Categories: education, love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

snow!

I’m one of those peculiar grown-ups that loves snow days. I’ve been glued to the news this week in anticipation of the storm that’s heading toward us Friday into Saturday. I’m not crossing my fingers for snow totals just yet. You never know what track the storm is on till it’s on that track. But I’ve been assured there will be a goodly bit of snow in the DC Metro area.
We’re even under a blizzard watch! (That just means high winds with the snow, but it’s still cool!)
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

When did this naming of winter storms begin?
I remember huge storms that shut down everything in 1979 (“President’s Day Storm”) and 1983 (Blizzard of ’83). I was eight and eleven years old for those storms. All that time out of school, my mom home from work. Playing in the snow. Creating huge tunnels and caverns in our yard.
These storms had no names.

The blizzard of ’96 saw the former husband, Thing 1 and I traveling home from Thing 1’s Godparents home in Delaware. We followed huge plow trucks through most of Maryland and across the Wilson Bridge. I look back at that and can’t believe how stupid and careless we were. Thing 1 wasn’t quite two years old. We didn’t have any emergency supplies in the car. We just knew we had to get home. We did. We were perfectly safe. And it’s an adventure we still talk about. But my older and wiser self can’t believe we risked that journey with that much snow with my baby in the car.
This storm had no name.

The Nor’easter in January of 2000 brought tons of snow. The snow was higher than Thing 2 who hadn’t yet turned three. Thing 1 had a blast out in our yard! Thing 2 only went out after we had cleared paths for her to walk through. If I recall correctly, Sundance, Girlie Thing and Boy Thing got snowed in with us that time. I’m absolutely positive I made more snowcream and hot chocolate then than I have before or since.
This storm had no name.

I missed the snow in 2010. I was still down in South Cackalacky. They called it “Snowmaggedon” but that’s not really an official name.

This impeding storm is being called “Winter Storm Jonas”. WTF? Why does it have to have a name? Can’t we just remember the blizzard conditions of that huge storm in January of 2016?
Naming winter storms seems utterly ridiculous to me.
Let me tell you something. I’ll not be calling it “Winter Storm Jonas”.

The boys come home from their mom’s Friday. I’m equally excited and disappointed by this.
Part of me wants to be snowed in with just YBW. Sundance was teasing me about just wanting to run loose naked during the snow.
It’s not that. It’s that I’m selfish. I love that feeling of being just we two against the elements. I love that we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to. I love that we can do whatever it is we’d like. And yes, a fair bit of nudity wouldn’t suck.
But with the boys here it’s different. They’re not terribly active humans and won’t want to go out and play in the snow. I don’t know if they were with their peers they’d be more inclined to play in the snow.
Thing C, God love him. He’ll help shovel or whatever without complaint because he’s just a good guy.
It makes me sad. I always feel like a little girl when it snows and want to play! These are not the ‘kids’ to do that. Thing G won’t leave his computer unless we hold a gun to his head. Thing C will watch TV or be on his computer. YBW will watch TV or be on his computer. Which means I’ll be reading, writing or watching TV too. Now, that’s not all bad…it will be blizzard conditions.

I’m gonna go out and play in the snow with or without these boys. I’ll pretend I’m a little girl and play play play!
I’ll make snowcream and hot chocolate and watch the snow fall.
I absolutely love when it snows!

Can you hear me singing?
I’ll soon be there with snow…
I’ll wash my hair with snow…
And with a spade of snow…
I’ll build a man that’s made of snow…
Go to sleep and dream of snow…

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

paint and a bit of roughhousing

I babysat this afternoon for a friend and neighbor. A five year old (didn’t make the kindergarten cut off) girl and her two and a half year old little brother. Normally when I babysit for this family, it’s in the evening when the little dude is already sleeping and his big sister and I play for a bit before her bedtime. But today it was full on fun!
Big sis, M, and I took advantage of our unseasonably warm weather and took paints and paper onto the table on the back porch.
20151215_153516

This is my favorite of M’s paintings. First, she painted her mom, “Miss Robynbird, what color pants was Mommy wearing?” (She was wearing jeans.) Then she added herself with a “tropical bird” on her shoulder.
20151215_153528

My painting is more self-explanatory.
20151215_153555
I absolutely adore my tree, but the pressies…meh. I’m not an artist like that, but I love to play with color.

Little brother, B woke up and we had a snack. Then we played. It’s been a loooooooong time since I rolled around on the floor “roughhousing” with small children. When B accidentally head butted me we changed the nature of our play. My head is hurting a little this evening, but it was worth it. I miss spending my days with small people.

Then I came home and the boys and I had breakfast for dinner!
It was a pretty great Robynbird day.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

preschool might be fun after all

I finally got my classroom set up in a way I feel will be successful for the friends and for me.

art center in the foreground

art center in the foreground

manipulatives, books and the cozy corner

housekeeping, cozy corner, books, and manipulatives

raspberry scented playdough on the table, block center, and housekeeping

raspberry scented playdough on the table, block center, and housekeeping

I’m slowly adjusting to the new way of being…no more tears, but I meet with the director a LOT! You know how Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”?
Yeah, that’s me. I wasn’t ready to be the lightning rod of change, but the mantle has been draped upon me so I’ll do my best to rock it.

YBW says, “You are a F*&#ING ROCKSTAR!”
My internal jury is still out on that, but it sure is good to hear!

Categories: education, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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