Child Development Articles

The Goose Story

This fall, when you see the geese heading sough for the winter, flying along in a "V" formation, you might be interested to know what science has discovered about why they fly that way.

It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. Thus, by flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. (Those who share a common direction and sense of community can accomplish more because they are traveling on the "draft" of one another.)

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly get back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. (Our work is easier when we join with others headed in the same direction.)

The geese at the back of the formation constantly honk to encourage those up front to maintain their speed. (Just like people!)

Finally, and this is very important, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots and drops from the sky, two other geese immediately fall out of formation and follow it down. Moreover, they stay with their fallen companion until it is either dead or able to fly again. They then launch out on their own again or with another formation to catch up with their group. (Perhaps if we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other and use our cooperation.)


- Teacher Debby


Relation of Our Program to Growth Characteristics

Physical Growth

Independence is "routines" such as handwashing, taking off and hanging-up coats, and toileting is encouraged. Self help skills in feeding such as spreading and pouring are encouraged.

Much equipment is available to encourage both large and small motor activity. Specific teaching of skills is done in response to the child’s needs and interests. For exapmple, when a child is stuck on top of a jungle gym, guide him in discovering how to get unstuck, rather than just lifting the child down. "Keep holding on with your hands and reach down with this foot," (and touch the specified foot). "I’ll help your foot find the step," (and you physically guide his foot to the right step).

The program may encourage development of specific skills by the varied equipment provided, and the way the environment is organized.

Emotional Growth

Listening, sitting at their level, using their names, expressing appreciation for their accomplishments, helping when needed and encouraging independence, are all things that promote the child’s sense of self-worth.

Their ability to stay at school without their mothers; their discovery that there are other friendly adults who will help them; their solutions to physical, social, and intellectual problems will promote independence and self-confidence for the child.

Respect for the child’s feelings, while limiting their expression of those feelings, helps the child to learn self control. You can express these sentiments in many ways, like –"I know you are angry that you cannot have that toy right now, but Billy needs a chance to play with it for a few minutes before he will be ready to give you a turn. It’s alright to feel angry, but I won’t let you grab the toy. You will have to wait." Or –"Sometimes we are afraid of things that might make loud noises. Do you want to watch the fire truck through the window?" Or –"It is hard to say good-bye sometimes. I will stay with you while your mother leaves. Would you like to sit on my lap until you feel ready to play?"

Social Growth

Some children need to watch for quite a while before they are ready to join in. Do not feel you have to make the child do anything. On-looker activity is a very real form of social behavior. It is participation- a stepping stone of group interaction.

Certain areas/activities of the school promote spontaneous group play. We need to arrange equipment and provide props to encourage such play. Our playhouse, and dramatic play settings such as a McDonald’s, fire hat and hose, and block people and animals, are examples of such areas/activities. Cooperative painting on a large paper turns a usually solitary activity into a social one.
Physical skill activities such as jumping off the board, sliding, bean-bag tossing, etc, teach routines for taking turns as well as physical skill. Negotiation of the use of space and equipment in the sandbox teaches social problem solving.

The adult’s role is primarily in arranging the environment. During play, the adult supervises the observance of a few rules such as "People aren’t for hitting", "If you didn’t build it you don’t knock it down", and "We take care of our toys". The adult also acts as a resource suggesting additional equipment or play roles as the child’s interest indicates. Sometimes the adult may add word- vocabulary-to help the child enrich their play. For example, "The person who adds up your groceries is called the checker", or "Every grocery store needs a stocker to fill the shelves back up after the people buy things".

Intellectual Growth

Because Children have a need for self selection, and younger ones need frequent changes and activity, a variety of activities is provided. In order for children to be able to find play spaces independently, a minimum of one and one-half play spaces per child must be available.

Many opportunities are provided for children to use language. Enough adults are present to introduce new words in meaningful contexts. Child to child talk fosters increasing fluency and clarity. Language skills are also developed through music, stories, and language games.

The most effective teaching is done in response to the child’s needs or interests. We sometimes encourage these needs and interests by the materials we provide. Other children will also be stimulating to the child.

- by Teacher Debby


A Thinking Brain. How Does it Happen?

Some of the children in my class will be here with me again and some will be going to kindergarten next year. One of the biggest developmental milestones is coping skills. How do they move through their morning? Are they able to separate from parents with ease? Can they problem solve with another child? Is their attention span good? Is your child stable? How are their independence skills? How is their self-regulation? There is so much for children to attain before they go to a larger formal learning environment.

The information that I present to you is so powerful. In my class you will see a lot of moving with arms, bodies, and lots of singing. This is very designed music to create moments over and over again to stabilize your child and draw them in. Within this stabilization a child who is settled, relaxed, alert, focused, regardful and engaged "Learns".

This is so important for the social & emotional stabilization of the brain. This is a requirement, the child’s brain must not be stressed. Thinking does not proceed until the emotional-cognitive brain is stabilized.
A quote from Jane M. Healy, an author of child development books:
"Merely trying to shovel in information will serve little purpose unless children also learn how to use their brains to stay mentally focused, put information into perspective, reflect on meaning, plan ahead and follow through constructively- the fundamental components of problem solving."

If your child is having difficulty he or she may be in a fight or flight state. Usually this happens in a child has an argument or feels threatened. His or her brain will produce noradrenaline, a hormone that does not leave the body for 6 hours. At this point the brain cannot learn. Entering a play state can ease the condition, but cannot take it away.

Did you know that children remember negativity more than positivity. Mammals (us) expect nurturance. This is where we find the development of self-regulation. When a child feels nurtured and safe the less reactive they are.
"Young children, while involuntarily captured by novelty, really need repetition and familiarity. Anchoring experiences in this way helps them gain a sense of organization and mastery"
- Jane Healy

In meaningful "play life" the child increases their alertness and everything becomes easier.

I’m not sure what has happened, but children are expected to learn reading at earlier and earlier ages. Problems in reading have much to do with problems in auditory processing. To know something we can’t just talk about it. You must have experience to "know it". Then knowing becomes internalized and then can be remembered with ease.

The child’s first 7 years should be consumed with sensory motor activities. This "sense field" should be loaded with play. Images are stored in the brain when the whole body is involved. The more experiences we have the more images get stored in the brain. Then they are in the brain and available for symbolization, or reading. We really do need both sides of our brain. We need them to be involved- see, feel, and organize it all.

According to another well known professional, Vygotsky, "Inner speech develops as the child learns to use language. First to think out loud and then to reason inside his own mind. Eventually, it becomes an instinctive tool with which to think and also communicate thoughts by speech and then writing. I am convinced that a major reason so many students today have difficulty with problem solving, abstract reasoning, and writing coherently is that they have an insufficiently developed mechanism of inner speech." Young children not given time to develop in those building block years struggle.
I leave you with some things to think about.

  • Does movement help children develop an internal sense of "beat"?
  • Does the inner sense of "beat" correlate with successful reading and math abilities?
  • Do we as a community of play based designed curriculum improve children’s attention?

I hope you have said yes to all three. We’ve got to keep this thinking. We’ve got to get them up, get them physically involved and tune them into the play, designed play.

When you walk into my classroom and hear some of the songs I sing and the movements with them, remember I have studied many years on what works best for young preschoolers and how that little brain is stimulated the most. And I always learn more. Everyday your children are amazing little people.

- by Teacher Debby


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