Roseanne believes blocks are one of the most important materials that should be included in early childhood classrooms. Rosanne Regan Hansel is the author of "Creative Block Play: A Comprehensive Guide to Learning through Building. It brings guidance and inspiration to help you support and encourage children during exploration with blocks. Her book shows how you can use blocks to teach 21st century skills, create inviting spaces, and extend and inspire learning with unexpected materials."
Blocks are the perfect 3-dimensional material to encourage learning with all five senses. "Blocks provide so many opportunities to teach math, social-emotional, and fine motors skills". Roseanne guides us through some practical examples of how blocks can be used to engage children at their own pace with materials that delight - creative block play!
This week we meet Childcare Director Shanda Fitte, (My Intentional Play) who presents her excellent approach to early childhood education used at her rural center in Idaho. Shanda keeps it real with the Preschool Podcast; What are the outcomes that can result from pursuing state rating systems like ECERS or QRIS, or Steps to Quality? How can ratings systems potentially work against play-based and social-emotional learning?
Shanda challenges center directors to be willing to take a lower star rating in order to meet the needs of your children at the time. She shares her experience of how her center was impacted by prioritizing assessment and rating systems over the needs of the children at her center, and what her priorities are for establishing strong relationships with children today.
Today, Shanda Fitte prioritizes play-based learning in her classrooms, beyond high ranking assessments or star ratings. She asks, what are the opportunities to meet the child's needs where they are in that moment (without assumptions of what's going on at home, for instance). Ultimately, Shanda argues that building strong relationships is the most important role we have as early childhood professionals. Beyond kindergarten readiness, beyond academics and even beyond learning and development observations, we are teaching children to relate and build relationships with others. All other learnings are a bonus.
Episode 75 - Should you tell a child "don't cry"? We are born with empathy, yet by the time we are in elementary school signs of empathy begins to fade. Tedi Ware of Empathy Warriors delves into her personal journey to promote childhood empathy programs. Anyone who enrols in the "school of empathy warrior-hood " takes a step to self-empowerment and radical vulnerability. "Empathy is a huge learning process for everyone involved and it takes tremendous courage".
Tedi challenges us as educators to be brave - to enter an uncomfortable, vulnerable place and embody empathy in order to truly model that behaviour in the classroom. What's the impact of shutting down the emotions of a child who is upset? Listen to find out.
Episode 73 - Why is play-based learning so critical? "One of the interesting things about play, is that you can't fail when you play". Play needs to be truly chosen, self-instructed and self-directed. Liisa Hale, Co-Director of Blue Skies for Children in Oakland, California explores the critical early development that needs to happen at home alongside center care and the history that binds the early education workforce today.
Liisa also describes the "second home" - the child care environment that works alongside the home to create a space where children can be their authentic self for 6-8 hours a day. Liisa brings us along in the journey of how her center first identified the need for high-quality early education curriculum. She reviews the characteristics of today's "school-home hybrid" and asks, do children have the same space to play and explore at home that they do in emergent learning environments (in between lessons and birthday parties and other weekend responsibilities)?
"We can make a utopia for children for up to five years". She provides an engrossing look back at the history of their center and how it supports early development today. Is there a connection between the woman's movement and early education? Listen to find out.