59 posts categorized "Joy of Learning" Feed

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @ScaryMommy + @Palan57 + @ValerieStrauss + @Guardian

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have four articles to share with you related to instilling a joy of learning in kids. In the first, Megan Zander describes a school that has announced a "no homework" policy. In the second, Peter Greene reviews a recent report from Defending the Early Years about the importance of engaging young kids intellectually without pushing them too hard, too early academically. In the third, Valerie Strauss shares thoughts from Nancy Carlsson-Paige on how efforts to close the achievement gap have contributed to a "play gap" for disadvantaged kids (irony of ironies). In the fourth piece, the Guardian's Patrick Butler shares methods used by preschools in Finland (for kids up to age seven) to nurture the joy of learning. All of these articles are worth your time! 

Guess we are living in wrong part of CA: San Diego Elementary School Announces No #Homework Policy http://ow.ly/VeYC304doFt  @ScaryMommy

Megan Zander: "McKinley Elementary School in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, CA recently announced they will not be assigning homework for students this year. That’s right. No more lost worksheets, no standing over your kid’s shoulder while they whine, no screaming matches. No. More. Homework. (Cue choir of singing angels.)...

Parents are expected to read with their child for at least 20 minutes each night, finish any work not completed in class, and support their child’s learning outside the classroom...

While proponents of homework claim it helps students learn both responsibility and prepares them for the infamous standardized tests they’ll take all too soon and too often, there’s been no research that suggests any benefit from assigning homework in elementary school. "

Me: Too far away from San Jose for me to send my daughter, but I'm encouraged to see this story nonetheless. I hope that it's another sign that the pendulum is shifting away from homework for elementary schoolers. My own daughter's homework, in first grade, is ramping up quickly as we close the first month of school. So far, she seems energized by the homework. She's excited to show her work to my husband and me. How long that can last, I do not know... 

EngagingMindsTeacher @palan57  on recent @DEY_Project report | gist is to engage young kids intellectually not push academically https://t.co/1hdrolf9Nq

Peter Greene: "Now the folks at Defending the Early Years have published a short piece by Lilian Katz that provides a useful framework for explaining and understanding why some approaches to early childhood education are not useful...

Intellectual disposition can be damaged by "excessive and premature formal instruction," but it's not going to be strengthened by mindless or banal activities (she cites a year-long sharing time built around teddy bears). Do meaningful stuff. Or as we like to say in my family, children may be young, but they aren't dopes. They're just tiny human with fewer skills and less live experience...

Katz' recommendation is brief and clear:

Early childhood curriculum and teaching methods are likely to be best when they address children's lively minds so that they are quite frequently fully intellectually engaged."

Me: Further explanation here on why the downward push (in terms of age) of academic expectations is not only not useful but can be actively harmful. I recommend, as Peter Green does, that you click through to read the Defending Early Years piece that inspired Peter's article: Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children.

TakingBackChildhoodOur misguided effort to close the achievement gap is creating a new inequality: The #play gap https://t.co/eJYbeWb6PO @valeriestrauss

Nancy Carlsson-Paige (in a Washington Post piece by Valerie Strauss): "Kindergartens and pre-K classrooms have changed. There is less play, less art and music, less child choice, more teacher-led instruction, worksheets, and testing than a generation ago. Studies tell us that these changes, although pervasive, are most evident in schools serving high percentages of low-income children of color...

Many urban, low-income children have limited play opportunities outside of school, which makes in-school playtime even more vital for them. But what studies now show is that the children who need play the most in the early years of school get the least."

Me: I've been personally concerned about the increasingly academic focus of elementary and preschools for a while. This piece, which addresses the disparity of the impact between advantaged and disadvantaged kids is both eye-opening and depressing. It's ironic, really, that efforts to close the achievement gap are making schools and preschools more academic, which is in turn harming the long-term academic performance of the very kids who most need help. 

No grammar schools, lots of #play: secrets of Finland's #education system for kids under 7 http://ow.ly/3RPh304oxnc  @guardian #JoyOfLearning

Patrick Butler: "Indeed the main aim of early years education is not explicitly “education” in the formal sense but the promotion of the health and wellbeing of every child. Daycare is to help them develop good social habits: to learn how to make friends and respect others, for example, or to dress themselves competently. Official guidance also emphasises the importance in pre-school of the “joy of learning”, language enrichment and communication. There is an emphasis on physical activity (at least 90 minutes outdoor play a day)...

Carefully organised play helps develop qualities such as attention span, perseverance, concentration and problem solving, which at the age of four are stronger predictors of academic success than the age at which a child learns to read, says Whitebread (David Whitebread, director of the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development & Learning at the University of Cambridge). There is evidence that high-quality early years play-based learning not only enriches educational development but boosts attainment in children from disadvantaged backgrounds who do not possess the cultural capital enjoyed by their wealthier peers."

Me: I couldn't help comparing the experiences of the Finnish preschoolers described in this story to my six-year-old daughter's school day. But I am grateful that my daughter's school has three recesses a day with free play, plus PE 3 days a week for additional physical activity. It is, of course, well known that students in Finland have excellent academic outcomes, and it's good to see stories about how they use carefully designed opportunities for play to set kids up to be joyful learners. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @FrankiSibberson + @BurkinsAndYaris + @RaisingHappines

JoyOFLearningLogoUsually I just post my #JoyOfLearning article quotes once a week or so. But even though I posted a roundup on Monday, today I have three more articles that are well worth your time. The first two, both via Choice Literacy, are about the benefits of giving kids choice in what they read (even if a book seems to not be at their reading level, or seems "shallow" to the adult). The third article is about how grit involves more than just being persistent - the core attribute of grit involves being persistent in pursuing something that one is passionate about. There are strong implications here for how we encourage kids to try new things. 

ReadingWellnessRedefining "Just-Right" Books for Kids with #ReadingChoice + enjoyment in mind by @BurkinsandYaris @ChoiceLiteracy http://ow.ly/gK1C303EXQN 

Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins: "If we don’t define our reading lives by a single metric, why should we narrow children’s choices? Why can’t we just let children check out more than one book—one that is “just right” and a couple that aren’t, by traditional standards? Why can’t we broaden our definitions of "just right" so that students can broaden theirs? Why can’t we let the first graders who read on a third-grade level check out Dr. Seuss books and let the Marcuses in our classrooms read graphic novels that give them energy for all reading?...

Our charge in helping students select books is an important one. In the same way that flexibility and choice increases our energy and enthusiasm for reading, the same is true for students. What’s more, this energy and enthusiasm is accompanied by fringe benefits: when children are excited about reading, they are more likely to read more pages and read for longer periods of time, both of which translate to increased proficiency as readers."

Me: This article begins with a tale of a first grader whose teacher stopped him from checking out a library book that he was excited about, because it wasn't at the right level for him. I vow that I will speak up if this happens to my first grade daughter at school this year. My daughter will pick up everything from board books to chapter books, depending on her mood. She can't do more than decode a few words of the chapter books, while the board books are easy for her. But me, I celebrate (quietly, inside) every time she is excited about a book, no matter what "level" that book might be.

Conversely (and this one is admittedly harder) I try never to push when she refuses to read a book that I think she'll like, because she doesn't like the cover. I just let it go - there are always other books. I feel strongly that at home she should have complete choice in what she reads, and what we read to her, because this probably will not always be the case in school.  

StillLearningToReadTeacher @frankisibberson learns the value of "shallow books" from 3rd grade students - kids make just-right choices http://ow.ly/reZ9303EY6n 

Franki Sibberson: (After her students each celebrated one book from their third grade reading life) "These books I considered shallow, that were not quite the high-quality literature I know, changed my kids' reading lives in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Each day as a child shared, I was reminded of the brilliance of the authors who write for young children—authors who know just what a child needs to continue their reading journey...

As each child celebrated, I realized how often I try to rush my students’ journeys as readers, push them to books they are not quite ready for, encourage them to read the books I love. Through the month of celebrations I came to love these books that I wasn’t so excited about at the start of the school year. I don’t love them in the same way that I love Bridge to Terabithia, but I love them because they are the right books for my third graders. 

I learned as I have over and over again to trust my students to make good choices as readers."

Me: This is a hard one for parents and teachers who are book-lovers, I think. We have books that we are so excited to share with our kids that we push them to read them. But kids have reasons for liking the books that they like. Personal reasons. Developmental reasons. Just as we adults have reasons for liking the books that we like (personal choice, escapism, professional development, etc.). Cheers to Franki Sibberson for recognizing the value that "shallower" books have for her students, and for reminding the rest of us about this. 

TheSweetSpotGrit is "persistence AND passion towards one’s long term goals" | perfectionism alone is not enough http://ow.ly/soo1303H96S  @raisinghappines

Christine Carter: "But true grit—the kind that is equal measures passion and persistence—is a solid strategy for both success AND happiness. And it is something we can easily foster in ourselves, and in our children.

First, find and fuel passion. If you are a parent or teacher looking to foster grit in kids, the first step is to let go of what you want for them, and watch for what they are passionate about. Then, simply support their passions.

In order for kids to even know what they are interested in, they need exposure to a lot of different things. They will never know that they are passionate about tennis or Shakespeare or rock-climbing or piano if they never have a chance to try those things out."

Me: Carter makes an important distinction in this post between perfectionism (accomplishing things out of a fear of not accomplishing them) and sticking with something because one is passionate about it. Forcing our kids to stick to things that don't bring them joy can be a recipe for their unhappiness. The same can be said for us. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @AlisonGopnik + @JKarabinas + @AshleyLambS | #Play + #Reading

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three articles that address the joy of learning, and the things that take that joy away. The first article looks at the cognitive benefits of play for young kids. The second explores better ways of tracking reading than chore-like reading logs. The third piece laments the stress that many American high school kids experience, and proposes a more playful, kindergarten-like atmosphere. All three articles are worth your time. 

GardenerAndCarpenterUnstructured #Play Results in Cognitive Benefits, as well as sheer pleasure @AlisonGopnik http://ow.ly/quta303g6C2  @TheAtlantic

Alison Gopnik: "Just as we should give children the resources and space to play, and do so without insisting that play will have immediate payoffs, we should do the same for scientists and artists and all the others who explore human possibilities.

There is good reason to think that play helps us learn. But another part of the evolutionary story is that play is a satisfying good in itself—a source of joy for parents as well as children. Caring for children is hard work, getting the chance to play again is one compensation. If it had no other rationale, the sheer pleasure of play would be justification enough."

Me: This piece offers a strong defense of play, looking at both the science behind the cognitive benefits and the lighter side, too. I've been pleased to see this article getting a lot of exposure, and I hope it influences parents and teachers everywhere. Pieces like this give me hope that the pendulum is starting to swing back in the direction of play. 

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Mistaking Compliance For #Learning re #ReadingLogs http://ow.ly/zKKP303ihry  @JKarabinas @HeinemannPD

Jaclyn Karabinas: "(On parent-signed reading logs:Was a signature really the most authentic way for students to share their reading life with me? Did it provide me with the information I needed to help them grow as readers? No! In fact, it sent one message and one message only: I can only be sure you are reading if you write it down and someone signs it. I conveyed that message of distrust in the name of “efficiency.”

...I was able to build an accurate picture of what my students felt was truly valuable for tracking their reading lives. And you know what? They wanted the same things I wanted: to celebrate a growing list of titles, make recommendations to peers, respond in writing to share their thinking, and look for patterns on the types of books they devoured or detested."

Me: The quote in the previous paragraph exactly mirrors my own thoughts on tracking reading (especially for my daughter). We want to keep track of what titles we've read, and it can be fun to look at how many titles that's been, or to see if there are patterns. But any tracking that crosses the line from "this is fun" to "this is a chore" runs the risk of turning reading itself into a chore. And that is a travesty. 

My daughter is just starting first grade, and I am waiting to see what sort of reading log her teacher uses. I am prepared to push back if necessary. My primary job in this area, as far as I'm concerned, is to maintain my daughter's love of reading. Full stop. 

What if High School was more like Kindergarten asks @AshleyLambS in @TheAtlantic http://ow.ly/rSpr303mzlp  via @drdouggreen #JoyOfLearning

Ashley Lamb-Sinclair: "Lauri Jarvilehto is a former employee of Rovio (of Angry Birds fame) who has created a company called Lighneer, which is focused on educational games. Lauri believes—and I agree—that “education is important, but learning matters more.”

Too often, I see high-school students break down in tears over grades or pile on advanced and AP classes because “that’s what colleges want to see.” ...

How can America’s students feel hope for the future when they are so stressed from trying to achieve future success that they break down in tears?"

Me: This piece includes a concise summary of various survey results that capture the academic stress facing American high schoolers today, with comparisons to the situation in Finland (a much of #JoyOfLearning focused country). With my own daughter starting first grade, I worry already about how I can possibly keep the pressure cooker that is high school in the US (and especially in Silicon Valley - see this piece) from crushing her joy of learning. Articles like this one do give me some hope... 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @PerriKlass + @Mind_Research + @JasonBoog + @AlisonGopnik

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have two articles about growing bookworms, one about giving kids positive experiences with math (rather than focusing so much on "achievement"), and one about the value of learning through play. The first article is about the benefits of giving young children real, print books. The second is about giving kids choice in what they read. This one was written in response to another piece that cast aspersions on kids' choices, also linked here. The third piece is about ways to get kids to play with math and use it to answer compelling questions. The fourth piece shares recent research about the ways that babies and preschoolers learn (naturally, though play and inquiry). All of these articles are, ultimately, about how to nurture joy in reading, math, and learning in general. Happy reading!

ReachOutAndReadThe Merits of #Reading Real (paper) Books to Your Children by @PerriKlass @nytimes http://ow.ly/G2WL3034VfV  #RaisingReaders @reachoutandread

Perri Klass: "I love book-books. I cannot imagine living in a house without them, or putting a child to bed in a room that doesn’t have shelves of books, some tattered and beloved, some new and waiting for their moment. It’s what I wanted for my own children, and what I want for my patients; I think it is part of what every child needs. There’s plenty that I read on the screen, from journal articles to breaking news, but I don’t want books to go away...

Part of what makes paper a brilliant technology may be, in fact, that it offers us so much and no more. A small child cannot tap the duck and elicit a quack; for that, the child needs to turn to a parent. And when you cannot tap the picture of the horse and watch it gallop across the page, you learn that your brain can make the horse move as fast as you want it to, just as later on it will show you the young wizards on their broomsticks, and perhaps even sneak you in among them."

Me: Perri Klass is the National Medical Director for Reach Out and Read, a fabulous organization that provides doctors with books to give to kids on their well-child visits. I agree with her about the need for kids to have "book-books" as she calls them, vs. eBooks. As an adult, I adore my Kindle, particularly for travel. But for my six-year-old, everything I've read, and everything my instincts tell me, says that her books should be in print, not on a screen, for as long as possible. 

BornReadingLet Kids Read Whatever They Want to Read | Follow the child's lead http://ow.ly/YV4x3035sbK  @jasonboog @GalleyCat via @PWKidsBookshelf

Jason Boog: "For decades, child developmental research has proven that children learn best when they pursue their own interests. The child’s interest is far more important than the choice of reading material. Parents, caregivers, librarians and teachers need to follow a child’s lead when choosing books—no matter what they want to read...

Stop wasting time arguing about the quality of children’s books. Use your energy to help kids chase the stories they love in libraries, app stores, and playgrounds."

Me: Jason Boog's brief piece was written in response to a Slate article in which Gabriel Roth noted kids' love of books featuring licensed characters seen on TV or in movies, rather than reading what their parents might want them to read. That piece sparked a bunch of discussion (including this piece by Catherine Nichols, defending occasional literary "junk food"). These discussions about the quality of children's literature crop up from time to time, of course, and have ever since there has been children's literature in the first place. 

My own experience has been that my daughter enjoys running across books about licensed characters that she likes (from the Frozen princess to Angry Birds). She'll sometimes bring home stacks of such books from the library. I've never had any problem with this, though there are certainly (as Roth indicates in his piece) books that I personally enjoy more. My take on it is that it's not a good idea to insult a child's taste (because this may turn them off reading, which is the worst outcome), so I am generally with Boog on the idea of letting kids read what they want. But I do find, unlike what Roth describes, that if I ALSO keep the books that I like around, and offer those as an option, my daughter will end up enjoying many of those, too. 

Why We Should Worry Less About the "Achievement Gap" + focus on giving kids great #math experiences http://ow.ly/Zw0k3035rvP  @MIND_Research

Brandon Smith: "The achievement gap is just a symptom of a bigger problem... a dissonance between the rich mathematical experiences students should have and what they actually have. This is what I've started calling the "experience gap." For example, when we teach children division with fractions, we have them memorize "Ours not to reason why ... just invert and multiply!" We don't ask kids to understand the why and how this works -- we discourage them from even thinking about it...

Great experiences have tricky problems, twists we didn't see coming, and structure that we can find if we look. Great experiences put faith in mathematics and in people. A great experience is a chance to play with mathematics -- with authentic mathematics where learning happens. We need to give students rich opportunities to learn by doing rather than static observation or rote memorization of rules."

Me: I agree wholeheartedly with Smith's point that we need to teach kids how to PLAY with math, and that it's in working to answer interesting questions that real learning occurs. 

New research shows "We don’t have to make children learn, we just have to let them learn" http://ow.ly/BzWf3039vW6  @nytopinion @AlisonGopnik

Alison Gopnik: "We take it for granted that young children “get into everything.” But new studies of “active learning” show that when children play with toys they are acting a lot like scientists doing experiments. Preschoolers prefer to play with the toys that will teach them the most, and they play with those toys in just the way that will give them the most information about how the world works....

New research tells us scientifically what most preschool teachers have always known intuitively. If we want to encourage learning, innovation and creativity we should love our young children, take care of them, talk to them, let them play and let them watch what we do as we go about our everyday lives.

We don’t have to make children learn, we just have to let them learn."

Me: A friend shared this article with me on Facebook because he knew that the conclusion (quoted above) would be right up my alley. I've seen so many times with my own daughter the way she learns by figuring things out, and playing around with open-ended toys. The whole reason for my shift in my blog's focus over this past year has been that I don't want to see traditional school negatively impact her natural tendency to learn through play and inquiry. 

I think that this general dynamic remains true for older kids, too. They don't play in the same way, of course, but they learn most deeply by striving to understand things that are interesting to them. That's what I think, and it's always good to see articles published that back this theme up. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @KJDellAntonia + @LindaFlanagan2 + Adventures in #Literacy Land

JoyOFLearningLogoIn this post I share three recent articles related to the joy of learning. The first is for parents, and is about "the right way" to bribe your kids to read. While I am philosophically opposed to bribing my daughter to read, I did find some good points in the article (particularly quotes from Edward Deci, author of Why We Do What We Do). The second article is about how to make math more emotionally engaging for kids, and the third is about helping kids to find joy in reading in school. Both of these latter two articles are focused more on teachers than parents. I found all of these articles worth reading. 

Some reasonable points in "The Right Way to Bribe Your Kids to Read" by @KJDellAntonia but I still won't do it https://t.co/IJ8lVXO9jX 

KJ Dell’Antonia: "But if offering an incentive for reading is such a terrible idea, why does it still seem so common, even among parents who are aware of the pitfalls?

Perhaps my peers and I are too prone to valuing short-term wins over long-term learning (witness our tendency to “help” our children with homework). Or perhaps we just know how important reading is — and care more that our kids are good at it than that they love it.

Some experts actually agree that rewards can be useful, especially for younger learners. “I think we underestimate the power of extrinsic motivation,” said Rahil Briggs, director of pediatric behavioral health at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. “You want your child to be naturally fascinated, and some are, but some children can benefit from a little bit of a jump-start.”"

Me: I got to the above point in reading this article, and found myself shaking my head. I don't want to offer my daughter any incentives to get her to read - I want her to read because she wants to. I don't even join library summer reading programs (though I'm sure that some are much better than others).

I think that Dell’Antonia is right that if one is going to offer rewards, there are better vs. worse ways to do that, as she discusses in the article. And I think that every family is different, and needs to find what works for them. So, if you are struggling to push a child to do more reading, to slow down summer slide, you might find some ideas here. But me, I'm going to focus on keeping plenty of books around the house, letting my daughter pick what she wants from the library, and making sure that we have plenty of cozy family reading time together. 

How to Make #Math More Emotionally Engaging For Students | @LindaFlanagan2 @MindShiftKQED  http://ow.ly/RRgA302TWdd  #STEM

Linda Flanagan: "Is there a way to separate negative emotions from the subject, so that more students experience math with a sense of satisfaction and pleasure? Immordino-Yang believes so. “It’s not about making math ‘fun’,” she added; games and prizes tend to be quick fixes. Instead, it’s about encouraging the sense of accomplishment that comes from deep understanding of difficult concepts. “It’s about making it satisfying, interesting, and fulfilling.”

Be clear about why understanding math concepts matters. Kids who believe that they must simply endure algebra and calculus until they’re through with school—and that the actual learning is pointless because they’ll never use it again—should be reminded why understanding mathematical concepts is valuable."

Me: This article has some nice, practical suggestions for helping kids to change their emotions about math, by focusing on the purpose of learning math, identifying role models, and eliminating sources of fear. I've been doing some of these things instinctively with my daughter (like pointing out real-world examples where math is useful to us), and I like having some more ideas. 

The importance of #teachers helping kids to find joy in what they read at Adventures in #Literacy Land http://ow.ly/Egs1302Ki8S 

Adventures in Literacy Land: "Once students find that reading is enjoyable and worth their time, they search for books that will give them joy. They find joy in all that they read, even if it is a topic they don't love. Finding joy in even the mundane makes the task of reading worthwhile...

So many times we offer extrinsic rewards to coax our students to read. Studies have shown that those rewards do no always work. We have to help children find the intrinsic motivation to read. When reading makes a reader feel good, which leads to more reading, which leads to more success with the text. That creates lifelong readers!"

Me: I'm grateful to the author of this post for reminding teachers how important it is to show kids how to find JOY in reading. If we just focus on the mechanics, without teaching kids about what makes reading wonderful, we will fail them every time. It's easy to get caught up in testing and in "improvement". But the fundamental truth is that if kids enjoy reading, they will spend time reading. The rest will follow. This article is part of a series discussing the book Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#GrowthMindset and Connect 4

ConnectFourMy daughter (age six) is currently obsessed with playing Connect 4. We have the Red Sox / Yankees edition. But she is finding it frustrating. Her strategic thinking skills just aren't developed enough for her to win more than the occasional round, and I am constitutionally incapable of cheating to let her win. With this baseball-themed edition, the person who wins nine rounds first wins the game. This morning, when the score was something like five to two, she became very whiny and defeated. 

But I believe in growth mindset (the idea that one's abilities can be improved through practice and hard work). So first I:

  • Explained the difference between games of skill and games of luck. ("You will never get better at Chutes and Ladders");
  • Reminded her that I don't cheat to let her win, so that when she does win, she knows she really got me; and
  • Told her again and again that she needs more practice, and that she will get better.

When none of things approaches perked her up, I tried something new. We played a couple of rounds in which I explained to her what I was doing as I was playing. ("I'm going here to block you from getting three in a row here", etc.) She didn't end up winning those rounds, but the process still seemed to perk her up a bit. 

Currently (after some time in between spent doing other things) she is downstairs playing Connect 4 with her babysitter (who also doesn't believe in cheating to let her win). I just heard a cheery "Heh, heh, heh" from my daughter, so it sounds like she's doing better, but I haven't checked in.

Here's the thing. It's difficult to listen to your whiny, defeated child when she is losing at Connect 4 (or anything else requiring skill). You feel a bit mean, knowing that you have had X more years of practice with strategic thinking and playing games. But I truly do think that this is an occasion that calls for tough love. Here are some of the things that my daughter is learning as she struggles at Connect 4.

  • How to cope with failure, and try again;
  • How to be a good sport, even when you would prefer to toss the pieces onto the floor;
  • How to take an extra minute to check your logic before you drop that piece into the slot; and
  • How to anticipate what the other person is going to do next, and preempt them.

Hopefully she will eventually learn that she improves with practice. That's a message that we try to convey to her in many contexts. When the day comes that she gets to nine wins before I do, and that day will come, it will be an accomplishment that she can be proud of. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.  


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @DEY_Project + @HornBook + @GrowingBBB

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three links to share related to joy of learning. In the first, an elementary school principal looks to bring back play in school, starting with Kindergarten. In the second, a former teacher reflects on the damage that leveled classroom reading can do to students' motivation to read. In the third, a mom and blogger shares straightforward advice for preparing preschoolers for Kindergarten, including making sure kids have plenty of time for play. I think that all three of these articles are worth your time.  

“Yes, You Are Allowed To Do That!” One Principal’s Mission to Bring Back #Play in #School @DEY_Project https://t.co/bXkVpCFVYC

Brett Gustafson: "It is clear to me, as it should be to all principals, that play is a necessary component of learning.  This should come as no surprise to early childhood educators but many elementary principals are slow to embrace.  I share this account with Defending The Early Years not to boast “Look how great I am!” because, had it not been my wife (who worked with Senior DEY Advisor Dr. Diane Levin in college), I might not have been so quick to try this experiment this year.  I share this because I know there are many well-intentioned principals out there who don’t have the early childhood background to know how crucial play is for learning.  Please share this with them to let them know, “Yes, you are allowed to do that.”"

Me: I am doing my part here to share Brett Gustafson's experience as a principal who is working to turn around a troubled school by bringing back play. Gustafson started in kindergarten, and ended up with an experiment in which one classroom focused more on academics while the other two went to a play-based format. Guess which style resulted in fewer discipline problems AND better academic outcomes? 

DolphinsAtDaybreakDoes leveled reading create life-long #readers? Nicole Hewes on why it can undermine student motivation @HornBook http://ow.ly/h7SJ301OKY3 

Nicole Hewes: "...I believe that students will be more motivated readers if they are empowered to be involved in determining what a “just right” book means for them. Three key ways in which leveled reading programs potentially undermine student motivation are the lack of autonomy and empowerment given to students regarding what books they will read, their lack of translation into the real-world. and their failure to account for student interest as a factor in reading ability...If we all aspire to create lifelong readers, we must take steps to structure our reading instruction so that it reflects what actually leads to increased motivation and engagement."

Me: My six-year-old is currently reading a Magic Tree House book a page at a time, because it is so challenging for her. She wanted to take it with us out to dinner the other night. In the car, I suggested, casually, that she might want to try a book that was a bit less challenging, so that she could get more practice and learn more words. She took my point, saying that she found The Princess in Black a bit closer to her reading level. I gave her an example, explaining that she could probably figure out what C-A-S-T-L-E spells from the content, and then she would recognize it in other books. But I was very careful not to say that she couldn't read that Magic Tree House book. She pulls middle grade novels from my shelves sometimes to see what progress she can make with them. [Answer: not so much, yet.] But she finds the process of choosing both fun and empowering. Why on earth would I want to take that away? 

Solid suggestions: 5 Ways to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten + future #reading development from @growingbbb https://t.co/d1R24S2Frs

Jodie Rodriguez: "It sounds so simple.  But, it is the single most important thing we can do to help young children grasp language and develop a love of reading...Children need to hear lots and lots of language in order to talk, read, and write. Look for little ways numerous times a day to talk WITH your child...Don’t be afraid to use big words.  There is no need to dumb down language when we are talking with kids.  If your child doesn’t know a word you used, he’ll ask, and then you can have a quick lesson about the word... Oh, the power of play!  Maria Montessori said, “Play is the work of the child.”  Our preschooler’s day should be filled lots of free play and guided play."

Me: This was a tough piece for me to quote from because there are useful snippets all through. Basically, Jodie offers common-sense advice based on the importance of both reading and free play for getting preschoolers ready for Kindergarten. She includes examples of what has worked for her own family. I especially liked her advice not to be afraid to use big words in talking with your kids. This is something that I have always done with my daughter, and she sometimes catches me off-guard with her use of strong vocabulary words. Anyway, this piece is well worth a read for parents or caregivers of toddlers and preschoolers. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @EscapeAdulthood + @PernilleRipp + @focus2achieve

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three articles about creating more joyful learning (and joy in reading) for kids. The first is about giving kids time to "wonder aimlessly) to figure out what they most enjoy. The second is about giving kids reading choice, and not imposing rules on them that we would not follow ourselves. The third is about how one teacher is working to remake homework policies to better serve the needs of his students. 

PenguinsCantFlyOn the value of giving kids time to "Wonder Aimlessly" + discover their own interests http://ow.ly/R0Lt301sbpn  @escapeadulthood #Play

Jason Kotecki: "This ability to “wonder aimlessly” is a valuable thing. It is the heart and soul of tinkering and the key to a happy, fulfilling life...

The current system in America is anything but aimless. From the earliest ages, the goal is to get kids reading as quickly as possible, even if that means limiting the amount of time they have for “aimless” free play, which interestingly enough,science has confirmed is crucial to the development of resiliency and conflict resolution, while helping them discover their own areas of interest and engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue."

Me: I agree with Jason and his wife Kim that kids need time to pursue "aimless" activities, so that they can recharge, figure out their passions, learn resilience, and a host of other benefits. I find in practice as the parent of a six-year-old that this is easier said than done. But I appreciate posts like that one that remind me of why I need to keep trying... 

PassionateLearnersSo much truth! The #Reading Rules that we impose upon kids that We Would Never Follow as Adult Readers http://ow.ly/OksJ301xnEE  @pernilleripp

Pernille Ripp: "Choice is the cornerstone of our own literacy life, yet it is one of the first things we tend to remove for children, especially fragile or developing readers...

And while we can say that reading logs foster more reading because it is a check up system, it also kills reading for many.  If you want to see if the kids are reading, have them read in class and pay attention to what they are reading.  Allow students to track in a way that is meaningful to them; Goodreads, notebook page, poster, pictures of books on their phone, or even through conversations.  There is no one system that fits all and if a system we have in place is even killing the love of reading for one child, then we need to rethink it."

Me: In this post, Pernille Ripp hits on a variety of restrictions that we impose on kids' reading that risk killing their enjoyment of reading, like forcing "reflection" in the form of book reports about every book, and removing intrinsic motivation via reward programs. I just want to find a way to make every elementary school teacher in the country read this post, and come to understand these points. 

HomeworkMythHomework Doesn't Work. Now What? One teacher's plan to put his students' needs 1st http://ow.ly/j9DX301C6e7  @focus2achieve @BAMRadioNetwork

Oskar Cymerman: "A lot of research says that any amount of homework is largely ineffective. Some academics see it as something that can still be used if adjusted. But how do we fix homework? And, can we fix homework? I do not know, but I know that as educators we need to do what serves our students best. It is not always clearly laid out what is best. Should we still give some homework or abandon it completely? If we give homework, how can we ensure that we do not give too much, as we rarely know how much is assigned in other classes? How do we still teach what we are mandated to teach when we know that assignment completion at home rarely leads to meaningful learning?

Here’s what I decided, so try it at your own risk if you wish." A seven-step "oath to students" follows. 

Me: I'm still not sure as a parent how I'm going to handle homework expectations when my daughter starts first grade next year. But I do so appreciate teachers like Oskar Cymerman who are working to figure out ways to remake and minimize homework to better meet the needs of students and families.

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


My Plan for My Daughter's "Summer Learning"

My daughter finished Kindergarten last week. My goal has been to keep her summer as unstructured as possible. I want her to have downtime after her first year of elementary school. I want her to have the mental space to develop and nurture her own interests. I want her to have fun. Which is not to say that she won't be learning. She's six years old. She is a little sponge, soaking up opportunities for learning every day. Here are the things that I plan to do that I think will support my daughter's learning process without taking away her autonomy or joy of learning:

KnuffleBunny1. Keep piles of picture books on the kitchen table and by her bed. Rotate these every couple of days to give her choice. Keep the simple reading log that we've been using on the kitchen table, so that we can jot down books as we read them. Read to her while she eats breakfast, before bed, and during whatever other times she requests it throughout the day. Visit the library as needed to keep the piles of books fresh. We are still mostly reading these books to her, but whenever she decides that she wants to read a picture book or early reader aloud, we're happy to listen and help out. 

1stGradeWorkbook2. Keep a Grade 1 workbook on the kitchen table or the playroom desk, in case she wants to use it. She especially likes the Scholastic workbooks that I get from Costco. She has already asked me to get the Grade 2 workbook, for when she finishes. I am not requiring her to do the workbook at any time, and certainly not to finish it. But I find that if it is her own idea, and she has some downtime, she's happy to use the workbook to practice her writing and math. Last night she was practicing sentences while my husband and I were finishing dinner. I loved workbooks as a kid, and seeing her industrious work does make me smile.

3. Keep her afternoons as open as possible (vs. having structured activities). My daughter ended up deciding at the last minute to sign up for swim team. There is practice every morning, though she is only required to go three times a week. These practices do get her outside exercising and spending time with her friends. They've been staying to play together at the pool for longer than the 45 minute practice time, so I figure this is a reasonable compromise. She also has two 50-minute karate classes a week, but as previously discussed, the karate classes bring her great joy. She's also going to do one week of "spy camp" because I couldn't resist. But otherwise, her schedule during the week is clear.  

4. Accept playdates when they are offered, and offer them in return. As I write this, my daughter is at a friend's house picking fruit from the family's garden. Yesterday she and a couple of friends arranged among themselves a playdate after swim practice. I believe there was dancing involved, but I'm not sure. We don't live in neighborhood where she can just spontaneously play with kids who live nearby, but this felt like the next best thing. We are very fortunate to have friends we can do this with, particularly given that my daughter is an only child.  

ThingsToMake5. Make sure we have plenty of construction paper, colored pencils, markers, and scotch tape. Costco is pretty helpful here, too. Save empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, as well as shoeboxes. I also bought her something called The Big Book of Things to Make as an end-of-school present. While I'm philosophically in favor of her designing her own projects, I figured that a flipping through some ideas couldn't hurt. I also provide blank journals for writing stories.

6. Let her spend limited amounts of time doing hour of code tutorials (with a parent) and dabbling in Minecraft on her Kindle Fire. I do find that screen time can be addictive for my daughter, and I try to keep it quite limited. But I think it's ok in moderation, particularly if she is focused on things that are creative in some way. I also need some time in which she is occupied so that I can exercise, particularly on weekends, when our childcare provider is not with us. I agreed to download Minecraft (pocket edition) because I figured it would be better to have her building things than watching shows. 

That's it. Books and craft supplies. Kids to play with. Relatively constructive apps for her screen time. But most of all TIME. I realize that this might not be the right set of summer attributes for all kids. But for my daughter, I think this plan will do the trick. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.  

 

 


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @PaulBogush + @ErikaChristakis + @OliviaGoldhill + @NancyEBailey1

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three posts about different aspects of nurturing kids as creative thinkers. The first is about not imposing too many rules on kids, particularly in school, but instead, letting them be risk-takers. The second is about creating the right environment to encourage kids to read over the summer. The third is about letting kids be bored, rather than scheduling activities for them every minute. These are all things that I try to do with my daughter, with varying degrees of success. I also have a post about the dangers of rigorous required summer reading lists. 

"You have to be willing to (let kids) do dangerous things ... to change the world" http://ow.ly/tnFt3013YmF  @paulbogush @BAMRadioNetwork

Paul Bogush: "We preach to the kids "make a difference."  We tell them to "be the change they wish to see in the world." We put quotes on bulletin boards motivating them to dream "big."  There is continuous prodding to get them to be independent, be a leader, and who has not uttered or written on a wall that they should all "shoot for the stars."

All of that is followed up by a subliminal "not yet."...

Here's the thing. You have to be willing to do dangerous things if you want to change the world.  You need to be the person that everyone else thinks is a little crazy...because "people who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do.""

Me: This post resonated with me. Paul Bogush is saying: "Hey, we tell kids to be risk-takers and people who change the world, but then we expect them to be careful and compliant all day in school. This is not consistent." It's not easy to let kids do things that could be dangerous, of course, but I do feel like many (most?) parents and schools do need to ease up a bit. This post reminded me of the Free Range Kids movement. 

Beyond summer #booklist: How to cultivate a childhood #reading habitat http://ow.ly/MCJO3018CPZ  @ErikaChristakis @washingtonpost via @tashrow

Erika Christakis: "If we parents really want to foster natural reading, we can start by keeping our anxious and competitive urges in check and offering stories pitched at genuinely comfortable levels.

Adults also sometimes overlook content that really captivates a young child, opting instead for “message” stories or dazzling illustrations with thin characters and plot...

We need to cultivate more respect for those quiet unplanned moments when children stare at their cosmic ceiling. Think of unstructured time as negative space in a painting, illuminating what is otherwise hard to see. It may be more valuable in the long term than checking off another title on the summer book list.

Me: The bottom line of this piece by Erika Christakis is that a) kids need to read books that are at the right level and are about things that interest them; and b) need free time (without distraction) in which to read them. I certainly do not have a summer reading list for my six year old daughter. What I do is try to put fresh piles of picture books on the kitchen table and by her bed, keep her from being over-scheduled, and hope for the best. 

Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer http://ow.ly/DxPj301b9ER  They need space for creativity + finding own interests

Olivia Goldhill: "There are activities and summer camps galore to fill children’s time and supply much needed childcare when kids are out of school. But psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children during the summer is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from from discovering what truly interests them.

“There’s no problem with being bored,” says (Lyn) Fry. “It’s not a sin, is it? I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”"

Me: This relatively brief article makes the point that kids need time and space to figure out what really interests them. If the adults are scheduling them in activities all day long, they'll never learn to figure out what they like. Letting kids be bored makes them responsible for figuring out something to do, which is a useful skill to develop. This is something that I struggle with sometimes with my daughter, who is an only child and frequently wants an adult to play with her. I want her to learn to better entertain herself, both for my own sanity and for her own long-term happiness. Me, I can entertain myself with no one else around for days on end. That's a gift!

Rigorous summer "reading assignments are not really inducing fun. They’re making work out of reading" http://ow.ly/Zl6E301il4O  @NancyEBailey1

Nancy E. Bailey: (After looking at typical summer reading assignments given to middle schoolers) "It is not that older students who dislike reading can’t get help and encouragement to be better, happier readers. It just doesn’t seem like piling on reading assignments over the summer is going to do the trick. 

And it could be turning off the students who enjoy reading! Once reading is turned into a chore, it is hard to make it sound enjoyable...

In the spirit of summer relaxation, reading should be encouraged as something enjoyable to do.

In the end, if one doesn’t like to read, they just won’t do it. And that means there is probably a real reading problem that requires fixing, or the student never really learned the great joy that can come from reading."

Me: I think it's great if a school wants to provide a list of recommended titles that kids might want to read over the summer. Ideally, that list should consider of books that are kid-friendly and likely to be enjoyed, rather than being "educational." But I agree with Nancy Bailey that providing lists of books that kids are required to read, and giving them a required number of books to read, is more likely to turn kids off from reading than to help make them avid readers. Sigh. When the time comes, I will protect my daughter from such lists to the best of my ability. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#JoyOfLearning Articles on #ReadingLogs + #RaisingReaders from @PernilleRipp + @DrEricaR + @MEdinger

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three posts that are about nurturing and maintaining a love of reading in kids. The first post, from Pernille Ripp, offers suggestions for parents, with emphasis on counteracting negative practices that schools may impose that threaten the joy of reading. The other two posts, from Erica Reischer and Monica Edinger, both focus on reading logs. The first post discusses why reading logs can sap kids' motivation for reading, while the second, from a long-time teacher, offers a better alternative. These are all articles that I expect to refer back to in the future. 

For all parents who want their kids to be readers: A Parent’s Role in Protecting the Love of #Reading http://ow.ly/xSu9300YZe0  @pernilleripp

Pernille Ripp: "Thea (her daughter) is lucky.  She has been in a school where they value creating reading experiences above everything else.  Where they work with each child at their level and try to keep reading magical.  Where each child is given time to read self-chosen books, receive one-to-one or small group instruction, and the emphasis is on reading for fun, not reading for requirement or prizes.  As a school, they have said no to so many things we know can harm the love of reading.

Our role as parents has been to uphold the expectations they have created; reading for fun, reading as a natural part of our day, reading as something that becomes part of the conversations we have every day.  We have gladly embraced it.  We have not had to protect our daughter’s burgeoning love of reading from some of the practices such as reading logs, reading for rewards, AR, or forced daily reading reflections we see around schools, but what if we did?  What can we do then?"

Me: Pernille Ripp offers concrete suggestions for how parents can protect their kids from having the joy of reading sucked out of them from poor choices by schools. I am very, very interested in this topic. My daughter made it through Kindergarten just fine, and I was pleased to see classroom libraries in all of the first grade classrooms that we visited at a recent Open House. But I've also seen a fairly strong emphasis on Accelerated Reader points at this school, and I'm preemptively concerned about that. So I'll be saving Pernille's practical, thorough recommendations for future reference. This post is a must read for any parent who is concerned about raising kids who enjoy reading. 

Important: How #ReadingLogs Can Ruin Kids' Pleasure for Books @DrEricaR http://ow.ly/PfR8300V7Bu  @TheAtlantic #JoyOfLearning

Erica Reischer: "As a psychologist (and a parent), I have long opposed reading logs because of abundant research on the negative effects of external controls (such as rewards, deadlines, and assigned goals) on intrinsic motivation. In other words, when motivation to do an activity comes from outside, via rewards or mandates, it tends to undermine people’s interest in doing that activity for its own sake. This decline in motivation ultimately affects enjoyment, creativity, and even performance.

This research would suggest that reading logs have a similar effect on children’s reading habits, especially their desire to read for fun, making reading less of a pleasure and more of a chore. Imagine telling your child that she must draw pictures for at least 20 minutes daily—and also record how much time she spent drawing and how many different colors she used...

[On a recent study to specifically address reading logs and enjoyment] Students assigned the mandatory log showed diminished interest in recreational reading and also more negative attitudes toward reading after the study concluded. In contrast, the voluntary group showed an increase in both interest and positive attitudes. Although this study wasn’t exhaustive, it suggests that reading logs may undermine their intended goals."

Me: My daughter ended up having a positive experience with the very low key reading logs that she had this year in Kindergarten. All we had to do was list the books that we read to her, with a goal of 30 per month. I don't know what would have happened had we not reached that target, but this was not an issue for us. I found having a list of the books we had read useful, and my daughter enjoyed keeping track of the number each month. But I will certainly have an eagle eye out if we have more onerous logs next year.

I think that making kids certify to having read for a certain amount of time every day or making them write about each book could certainly diminish the joy of reading. I mean, I've found that for myself. If I pressure myself to review everything I read, which I have done at certain periods of blogging, I end up resentful, and not wanting to read. I've also found that our reading is sporadic. One day, when my daughter wasn't feeling well, we read her 30 picture books. This past weekend, when we had guests and a plethora of activities, we read only a single book. And that's ok. It all balances out. I do think that I would be tempted by Pernille's suggestion (see above) to just lie, if we were under pressure to certify that we had read for 20 minutes every single day. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. 

In the Classroom: The Problem with #ReadingLogs and What I Did About It  http://ow.ly/Fg8w300Z4lK  @medinger shares a positive solution

Monica Edinger: [After questioning the effects of reading logs for years, Monica recently eliminated them.] "What I did instead was have each child create and maintain a Book of Books (aka BoB), based on Pamela Paul’s, a journal of every book she read starting in high school. I thought it such a cool idea I wanted my kids to do that too. Not for accountability to ME, but for themselves. Additionally, I created a weekly BoB period where the children read, updated their BoBs, and met with me. At these meetings we chatted about what they had been reading and what they might read next. It was lovely. It was relaxing. It gave the information I needed about their independent reading. It gave me a space to check in with all my students. It did not single out the weaker readers. They all loved it as did I."

Me: This post made me heave a sigh of relief. Yes, encourage kids to read, encourage them to keep track of the books that they've read, use that list as a jumping off place for discussions and recommendations. But don't let bookkeeping and arbitrary limits kill the joy of reading. I wish that teachers everywhere could see this post! I also much appreciated Monica's perspective as a long-time teacher. She shares how early reading logs were an improvement in that kids could choose what to read, vs. the days of reading basal readers at home. This improved my understanding of how something with good intentions regarding kids and reading could go awry. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @SevenImp + @theVogelman + @teachbrooklyn

JoyOFLearningLogoI have three articles for you today related to growing bookworms and encouraging joy of learning. First up, Julie Danielson makes a strong case for classroom read-alouds by teachers. Second, teacher Brett Vogelsinger shares tips for getting kids to be intrinsically motivated to read. And finally, a teacher from Brooklyn laments the wide gap between the experiences of Pre-K vs. Kindergarten kids at her school. 

On the many gifts that #teachers can bestow by #ReadingAloud in the Classroom http://ow.ly/RbWZ300ESBH  @SevenImp @KirkusReviews

Julie Danielson: "The teacher who read to my daughter and her classmates shared a part of herself with them. It was a gift to them. It’s an intimate thing, to share a story with someone. I find, when I read to students (and my own children), that the stories we share engender conversations about life. Sometimes the best discussions pop up – about right and wrong, what it means to be a human, how we should treat each other on this planet. Not all conversations are so deep, mind you. Maybe we just laugh a lot. Either way, we learn an awful lot about each other in the process...

I know—believe me; I know from experience—how much teachers have on their plates. But I also know that students who are read aloud to will never, ever forget the stories their teacher lovingly shared with them."

Me:  In this article for Kirkus Reviews, Julie Danielson (who also blogs at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast and is a longtime Kidlitosphere friend of mine) shares seven reasons why teachers who make time every day to read aloud to kids deserve our thanks. Reason #3, shared above, particularly resonated with me, but they are all true and essential. I really believe, as Jules does, that if more teachers could find time in their pressure-driven schedules for read aloud, the world would be a better place. 

Gimmicks to get kids INTRINSICALLY motivated to read http://ow.ly/3qGy300ETnm  by 9th grade teacher @theVogelman @nerdybookclub

Brett Vogelsinger: "So now, as a teacher in a grade 7-9 middle school, I am forever searching for ways to help kids tap into the intrinsic motivators that led me, and so many adults, back to reading for pleasure.  When I promote reading to my ninth-grade students, I examine my own reading life, think about what makes me open a book, plunge in, and just keep swimming.  Then I create a gimmick, a catchy little phrase that names a habit I want them to internalize. My goal is to marry the power of a gimmick to the power of intrinsic motivation, thereby helping the readers under my care to grow."

Me: My favorite of Vogelsinger's gimmicks is "The Week of Sneaky Reading", during which kids brag about / confess to ways that they have managed to sneak in a few extra minutes of reading time. But what I really like about this post, of course, is Vogelsinger's emphasis on intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards for reading. Extrinsic rewards are shallow and fleeting. But a kid who feels the intrinsic rewards of reading will be a reader for a lifetime. 

Why isn’t Kindergarten like Pre-k when the kids are so close in age + development asks @teachbrooklyn http://ow.ly/zA2p300RDnK  #JoyOfLearning

MsRumphiusBrooklyn (an anonymous teacher): "From what I’ve seen, pre-k is a success- developmentally appropriate, nurturing classrooms with lots of exploration, play, growth and joy. Why should kindergarten be any different?...

Kindergarten is still very much part of early childhood. Four and five year olds cannot learn or function without movement, sensory stimulation, singing, joy, play, choice and time outdoors. We have a structure for pre-k that has produced at least a few fabulous, developmentally appropriate classrooms.

Kindergarten needs to get on board. In fact, maybe all grade levels should be more like pre-k. Choice, play and happiness for all."

Me: For my daughter, the gap between Pre-K and Kindergarten was not nearly as wide as the one described by this Brooklyn teacher. But I do like the idea of including more choice and play, and less focus on dry worksheets and testing, for all kids. Especially for Kindergarteners. Our school is going from half day to full day Kindergarten next year. I've become more on board with this change (though it won't directly affect our family) since talking with a couple of the teachers about how they look forward to using the additional time to offer more play-based learning. I do hope they succeed!

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links.