Play. The best lesson plan for children growing up in the Information Era. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 01-27-2002, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I would like to first define "play" as the activity that we do by choice, that we enjoy, that we do not know the outcome of in advance.

The reason that I post this, is to stimulate discussion on why play is so important for children's intellectual and social development, and why certain skills that only play can develop (incidentally, less necessary in the Industrial Age), are going to be the primary skills in the Information Era.

Additionally, I am disturbed by the rise in restricted or reduced recess time (play time) for children in American schools, and the obvious link to the increase in ADHD.

I believe that they are related. Obviously, it is not a simple relationship, but they are connected.

a

The anti-Ezzo king
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#2 of 22 Old 01-27-2002, 02:37 PM
 
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Okay, let me add an anonymous note here...

I teach Kinder and would like the kids to have recess at lunchtime and again in the afternoon for 1/2 hour. Once they're dressed after lunch, they get 10 mins.

Now, we got in trouble for pm recess and were told it was a waste of time. and were told the TOTAL amt of time we could have away from studies was 30mins. Ok, it takes them 15+ mins. to get dressed and again 15+ to get undressed.

We kept fighting and got back our 30 mins. of recess, but one class never has it. Too much work. Her 5-6 y.olds have a 10 min. recess ALL day long.

"They" keep pushing the curriculum down down down.

I mean, DUH, no wonder Kinder. had the highest suspension (yes) rate in our school last year. No wonder their little eyes are rolling in the afternoons. PLEASE bring back 1/2 day kinder!

Ah well. bye
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#3 of 22 Old 01-27-2002, 03:37 PM
 
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I believe in play (I'm using this term according to Alexander's definition) for all ages (yes, us too!). What concerns me about the preschool that my dd will move into if we choose to re-enroll her at the onsite daycare at my work, is that the play is very stereotyped and limited by the selection and types of toys. The girls play almost exclusively with their wide range of Barbie dolls and the boys play with trucks. The adults rarely interact in the play unless their is a problem (this is their interpretation of "Best Practices" and "Preschool being all about play").

It would seem to me that play, to be a productive and learning experience, should involve less specific toys and other items and more adult modeling (not what to play or how to play, but how to cooperate while playing, how to resolve conflicts, etc.) before problems arise. Unfortunately, other parents at this daycare have been totally turned off the whole "play" idea and are now pushing for academics instead .

I'm feeling that play is good, but as always, the adults caring for the children have to know what they're about. Not in order to dictate results, but to set the stage for a learning environment.
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#4 of 22 Old 01-27-2002, 08:30 PM
 
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Dot.mom - I think you are right that adults should not just stand by and let play happen, assuming that all play is equal.

I think that in settings such as the daycare you describe, it is essential that the adults in charge facilitate high quality play. That means selecting high quality materials, showing children how to use tools and equipment correctly, suggesting ways to play with things and drawing attention to the possibilities that are available. The 'suggesting' need not be verbal, it can be in the way that equipment is laid out, or by getting alongside children and playing too. Sometimes all that is lacking is imagination on the part of the staff themselves - maybe they didnt play enough as youngsters and need some help!

A good practitioner learns to balance intervention so that it leads on from where the child is and suggests further possibilities. And I strongly believe that the staff should think hard about gender issues and find ways to avoid stereotypical play becoming the norm.
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#5 of 22 Old 01-27-2002, 09:24 PM
 
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Has anyone else read "Playful Parenting"

lots of ideas about how annd why to get down on the floor and play with your kids (of all ages)
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#6 of 22 Old 01-27-2002, 10:42 PM
 
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Yes, I believe play is extremely important! Both for learning and social/emotional development. I agree with Britishmum that staff in a high quality program should be involved in the play of the children. Not overly-involved. It is amazing how little it takes to facilitate high quality play. Sometimes it is just being present and attentive to the play.

I consult with a large number of preschool and Headstart programs. I am always amazed at the differences I see in the quality of the attention that staff bring to the program. Different classrooms might have the exact same toys and supplies, but in one, the children are engaged, respectful and good problem solvers. In another, they are isolated, disrespectful and withdraw or get aggressive the face of conflict. The difference? The way the staff interact, engage, bear witness to, or "enlarge" the play. It is a quality of relationship at work; it begins with the teacher's own capacity for attachment and engaging other (little) humans in the attachment/connection process. THey really LIKE the children and they bring a sense of DELIGHT to the experience of teaching preschool. Others are bored, anxious about conflict, wishing the day would be over, etc. etc.

I think NAEYC guidelines are a start in most preschool programs. (Nat. Assoc. for the Education of YOung CHildren) But you can't make guidelines about how to DO relationships. Some teachers have it and some don't. Some can get it, if they're mentored well.

Dot.mom you may want to check out the accredidation the preschool you are looking into has. If they have NAEYC accred. there is at least a higher likelihood that the quality will be higher. NAEYC believes very strongly in a play-based preschool experience.


I am also equally perturbed, like Busymommy about the trend toward full day k-garten. I fought against it in my son's district; we lost, but did gain a compromise. (gradual beginning). For me, I still don't believe that 5 yr. olds should be in school for 6 hrs. My son survived it, but not without his share of very grumpy days....

 
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#7 of 22 Old 01-27-2002, 11:07 PM
 
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Unfortunately, the preschool that I described is NAEYC accredited (I think some creative paperwork was involved as well as a big show on the day of the site visit). The staff act like the latter you describe (bored, detached, etc.) which is one of the many reasons we pulled her out and I am on leave right now (the biggest reasons were actually blatent safety violations). We do have a spot in a wonderful program (NAEYC and they live by it) that starts next fall which is not to far from where I work.

But back to the topic of play. In looking at various programs (preschool and school age) I am apalled at the number which prioritize academic skills to the virtual exclusion of play. Even one of the local Montessori's raised there eye brows when I asked how much time the children were given to play (they kept harping on how their curriculum couls make average kids loook gifted and gifted kids look like geniuses). It is no wonder to me that so many kids are finding play in their teen years through elicit substances and other unhealthy behavior, when they have been structured out of play so young in life. But I'm drawing an unproven parallel here.

DOes anyone have any links to research on any of this?
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#8 of 22 Old 01-28-2002, 12:07 AM
 
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I think I can probably find some info./links, but I am at home and that info is at work. I'll try to find some time to look it up when I"m there tomorrow.

It is frustrating! Your example is proof that the staff are really what matters. I guess it makes sense to just sit in on some preschools to observe the quality of what is actually going on in the school.

 
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#9 of 22 Old 01-28-2002, 12:47 AM
 
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Where I live, the challenge is resisting the flood of extracurricular "must-do's." I simply do not want my son overscheduled. I treasure the time he has to play, the long afternoons of rushing home from school to meet a friend. The difference in his attitude after a day spent in free play or even running around town with me and a day in some structured activity (even church group) is amazing. Free play feeds the imagination and releases stress. In our family, at least, it's plain to see.
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#10 of 22 Old 01-28-2002, 01:27 PM
 
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i dont think the rise in add/adhd can be attributed to that, although i think play is important for other reasons.
no time - babys waking
theres a good article about add/ ritalin at http://www.naturalchild.org/home
i think its called the ritalin sham or something
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#11 of 22 Old 01-28-2002, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dot.mom

It is no wonder to me that so many kids are finding play in their teen years through elicit substances and other unhealthy behavior, when they have been structured out of play so young in life. But I'm drawing an unproven parallel here.
No you are not. I have come across reaserch on rats that show that if they are deprived of play as children, they fail to properly mature, and continue to "play" through out their adult life in inappropriate ways.

Off to bed.

a

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#12 of 22 Old 01-28-2002, 08:17 PM
 
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Dot.mom - try a search for Caroline Van den Berg - I think she did the research on rats and play
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#13 of 22 Old 01-28-2002, 08:59 PM
 
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Alexander: Not to digress from the topic, but what on earth constitutes "inappropriate play" for an adult rat???
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#14 of 22 Old 01-30-2002, 04:43 PM
 
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aside : i had recess in public school and was diagnosed with adhd in first grade! my mother resisted the medication until i was 14...
those drugs are scary.
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#15 of 22 Old 01-31-2002, 02:02 PM
 
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JW - I think the 'causes' of the symptoms shown by children who are labelled ADHD are many and varied. There is no one cause, and there will never be concencus between experts on this.

I agree that many intelligent and questioning children would now be labelled ADHD simply because they don't fit comfortably into a system that often demands conformity. Drugs such as Ritalin give a quick fix for the adults dealing with the child - in my experience not always the teachers, I have known teachers battle with parents and medical 'experts' about children being given these drugs, but to no avail because the parent prefers the child to take the prescription. I have also known children who have been taken off Ritalin within weeks of being in a classroom where the teacher understands how children learn and teaches appropriately. (or 'facilitates learning' for those who don't like the word 'teach')

But it is not just the intelligent questioning child who gets diagnosed as ADHD, that is too simplistic. There are others who have a range of influencing factors that lead them to present challenging behaviours.

It is fascinating that brain imaging is showing a difference in the brains of ADHDdiagnosed children, with smaller parts of the brain that are thought to deal with attention and motivation. The question is, are these brain differences due to a genetic difference, or because those parts of the brain fail to develop through lack of use? Lack of use could be for a myriad of reasons, lack of play being one of them. You could add to the list the increased use of technology, games that demand quick response and no concentrated thought, lack of attention from adults, emotional abuse or neglect, alcoholism or drug abuse in the family, lack of positive role modelling, schools that demand long periods of sitting and no reprieve, inappropriate content taught at school..... the list could go on.......

I don't think the experts will ever agree, but I can't believe that the problem lies entirely with a generation of child and not with society. Certainly, many children display the symptoms of ADHD, but the question should be 'why is this the case?', not 'what drug can we give to surpress the symptoms?'

Having said this, there needs to be help available for those adults who deal with children who have ADHD type symptoms. But of course, drugs are cheaper for health authorities than real intervention, and also make a lot of money for the drug companies.
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#16 of 22 Old 01-31-2002, 02:49 PM
 
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i never "played" at recess
i always sat with my friend on the sides
i was pretty calm and laid back. i did not need to run around.

recess is fine and good. i dont care if they cut the ammount of it. i feel it is less important than learning.

i think a reason for more ADHD is two part
1. constant overstimulation from birth onward
(tv, radio, always playing with toy...never letting baby just sit)
i guess you could say i think it might be too much play. too much tv and too much everything.

Have you noticed that the cable news channels now have :
a)people talking
b)news at the bottom of screen
and c)stocks
ALL AT ONCE. That is a lot of info

2.i think that now it is RECOGNIZED, where in the past people would just say "That kid is annoying hyper mean wild and out of control". Now they realize it is a medical condiction and not a bad kid at all. As we learn what diseases are they will be more recognized and hopefully managed.
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#17 of 22 Old 01-31-2002, 07:49 PM
 
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It seems that 'playing' gets 'learned' right out of people. How many adults have a hard time playing with their children, or just don't know how to play?

I like Alexander's definition of play- "the activity that we do by choice, that we enjoy, that we do not know the outcome of in advance. " Having fun.

Why is fun so suspect in our society? Not taken seriously, not held to be 'worth' anything, somehow inferior to 'serious' undertakings, and somehow not related to learning. Hogwash.

I think the rise in labeling kids ADHD has a lot to do perceptions and expectations, and does not serve the children well.

So, why is play so important for children's intellectual and social development?

What are the skills that only play can develop, that are important for the Information Era and eclipsing the skills that were important for the bygone Industrial Era?

It seems that western societies are slow to catch on to the concept of different skills needed in the present and future... witness the insistence upon forcing academic skills down kids throats for years before they are ready to use them, to the exclusion of play. Whereas kids who can pursue their interests and play play play the day away, pick up the academics when they need them and develop their problem-solving and self-motivational and decision making skills daily, and learn how to learn without getting turned off to the whole process.
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#18 of 22 Old 02-01-2002, 03:35 AM
 
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Sleepies,

I think part of the problem with the huge number of ADHD diagnoses is that there is now a common belief that ADHD is a disease, or a medical condition. This has yet to be proved. Certainly, it has been shown that children diagnosed with ADHD have smaller parts of the brain that are probably used for attention and motivation. But nobody yet knows if this is caused by genetics or by lack of practice at paying attention, or as you say, by constant overstimulation. Or any other number of reasons or environmental factors. It is certainly not, however, a disease.

You are right that many children in the past were just labelled 'bad' rather than ADHD. Somehow, it is socially acceptable to have an ADHD kid, almost fashionable. I'm not saying that a parent of a child who displays those symptoms should be ashamed, but I do think that more emphasis should be put on the possible causes of behaviour and the learning diet being offered before resorting to drugs that are more potent than cocaine.

I agree that often 'recess' or 'playtime' is a waste of time in schools, because play areas are often barren and devoid of stimulating activity. Hence children, such as yourself as a child, don't like it and would prefer to be in class. But the fault surely lies with schools in not providing the right sort of play environment, with enough diverse activity that all children are stimulated and having fun.

Mind you, the same should go for the classroom!
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#19 of 22 Old 03-23-2002, 01:41 AM
 
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If you take away recess, the students will have recess in the classroom.

Even in the most god-awful job, I get a 15-min break every four hours, and a half-hour lunch every six hours. But that's for an ADULT with a decent attention span! Children should get more breaks and longer lunches.

I'd say at least a 45-minute lunch...or a lunch time that's as long as the class. And then maybe two half-hour recess periods.

Some people just don't realize that a kid has more important things to do sometimes!
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#20 of 22 Old 03-23-2002, 04:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Greaseball


Some people just don't realize that a kid has more important things to do sometimes!
Not "sometimes".

All the time.

a

The anti-Ezzo king
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#21 of 22 Old 03-23-2002, 10:16 AM
 
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Whether the child has better things to do will depend on what is happening in the classroom.

I don't believe that the traditional routine of lesson - break - lesson -break- lesson - break is the best way to learn. A good teacher will build in 'breaks' within a 'lesson' - and the 'lesson' will be suited to the learner. Therefore the learner will not be watching the clock longing for a 'recess'.

The aim should be that the children don't feel that they have 'more important things to do' - because what they are doing is too important!

The greatest feedback I would get as a teacher was when children ignored the bell for 'break' and stayed in the classroom. Certainly, opportunities need to be given for children to leave the room and do something more physical, or read, or play a different game. There is a problem with traditional 'recess' too - running around after a ball or hanging around talking by a wall is not necessarily a good 'break' for many children. Good schools provide a wide variety of choices for breaks - and good teachers make sure that what is happening in the classroom is not somethng that makes a child long for a break!
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#22 of 22 Old 03-23-2002, 02:52 PM
 
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IMO in the ideal setting, there would be no delineation btw "intructional time" and "recess". Children would be free to learn by playing and to play while they learn. If there is an imposed recess, then by default instructional time is also being imposed. Even if children do occasionally become so engrossed in their work during instructional time that they forego recess, I am willing to bet it is not all of the children all of the time. Some are falling through the cracks.

But then school is about groups and what is best for the group.
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