Child Development and Learning

♪♪♪ ♪ Down came the rain
and washed the spider out ♪ ♪ Out came the sun
and dried up all the rain ♪ ♪ and the itsy bitsy spider
crawled up the spout again ♪♪ That’s your
favorite song, again? Again? ♪ The itsy bitsy spider
crawled up the water spout ♪ ♪ Down came the rain– ♪♪ (Claire Knox)
All of our competencies with regard to understanding
child development and understanding
dual language learners and understanding
mental health issues for young children and
understanding special needs, all of these competencies
weave together into something that has
a character in the early years of life that is different than
the character that it has in later years. All gone. Oh, a little bit more
actually. (Claire Knox)
What’s important
about early childhood is that it’s early childhood,
that it is a time in life when children are
laying down foundations that are gonna make
a difference in terms of their relationships with
the world around them, with how they learn, with
how they think about things, with how they handle mistakes,
with how they deal with things that don’t work, with how
they feel about working hard to accomplish things. That’s what we’re doing,
and that’s why it’s important, and that’s why it’s special. The connection between
studies of child development and what we’re doing
with young children in the early childhood
setting is critical, and it provides
an essential foundation for all the work that we do
to prepare teachers of young children. So when you look at
the areas of research that are most informative
for our field, there have been incredible
advances in terms of what we know about
how children think and how they
develop knowledge and how they
construct knowledge. That has really influenced then
how we theorize about the child as a learner and the adult
as someone who supports that meaning-making child, so as we
think about how do we prepare teachers to work
with young children, we need a very strong foundation
in knowing who the child is. You notice that we
need something there. Will any of these things work? Yeah. (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
One of the things that the study of
child development provides us is that children are
meaning-making creatures from the moment of birth. They arrive at birth gathering
information from the world around them,
organizing that information, constructing concepts
about themselves, about others,
about the object world. That process continues
throughout early childhood. What we can be mindful of, those
of us who are preparing teachers to work with young children,
is how do we help teachers think about the image
of the child as a learner and the image of a teacher who supports that
child in learning, and what does it mean to teach
and to learn when you’re working with children from birth
through 5 years of age? Here, would you like that? (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
The organizing principles that I would hope
that a teacher preparing to work with
young children be offered include a very strong foundation
in the image of the child as one who constructs
understanding from everyday experiences. (Claire Knox)
And so developmentally-
apppropriate practice has to draw not only
on what we know about developmental science
and typical patterns and trends in terms of children’s
social-emotional development, their cognitive development, their development
as whole people, but it also calls on us
to really think about who’s in front of us in terms of what we know
about typical development– Can I have that? I was using it first. (Claire Knox)
But also the individual, the culture
that person is in. Who is this person
who’s reacting this way? Later I can give you, but– (Claire Knox)
What we know about
typical pattern and trend and what we know about
how children learn and how their behavior changes
is like a reference library. We use that as we’re working
with individual children, individual families,
and individual contacts as a resource, but none of
that answers the question of, what do I do in the classroom
this afternoon? The circle was
very, very sad, and Mommy asked him– Baby, why are you crying? Because nobody
want to play with me. Why you not ask the square? (Claire Knox)
Because I can’t answer
that question until I also factor into
what I’m thinking about the needs and interests
of those children, the needs and interests
of those families, the challenges
that we’re facing. What’s going on
in our community? The contacts that we’re in, who’s gonna be there in
the classroom that day, what kind of caring community
I’m trying to build, and what the skills and
competencies of the children are in that process. Dump it out and try again? Angel. Angel? Yeah. Are you calling Angel? She’s outside right now. Can you see her from there? Thinking about her? Up. Up? You’re thinking
about going up? We’re gonna stay here
for a little bit. Do you wanna read
a story with us? There are
lots of books here. You take a look outside.
You say, “Hello.” Early care and education is
all about relationships to me. That’s the way I define it, is that it’s all about
relationship building. Are you gonna go get it? What are you looking for? (Alice Nakahata)
This goes back a lot to how important it
is for children to feel emotionally secure so that then they
have the freedom to explore, to learn,
to be self-confident, and all that comes from
the kind of nurturing and the kinds of interactions
and relationships that they have had in
that growing up period. You went around? You went around? (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
Part of our image
as a classroom is we’ve got a triangle
of relationships. We’ve got children,
teachers, and the families, and so how do we engage in
dialogue alongside the families occasionally so that they, too,
can inform our thinking about their children’s ways of
learning and thinking? I think that the children
want to spend time with their families and their
friends and their parents and their grandparents. Some of our children come
from very extended families, so there’s other people
in the home, and I know that they
are very important, and they, too, are a part of
the child’s development. So the family part, for
a teacher to say to a parent, to a grandparent, to an auntie,
“Here’s what we do together.” But in working with families
what really came across is that is a context for each child. They are the primary
caretakers of that child, and that child
will learn values, will be able to do things
within that context. I think one of the challenges
in terms of getting students to be acquainted with
the impact of families is for them to see
the differences and also to be open
to those differences and to be respectful
of those differences and how much impact
they have on the way that people raise
young children. All that asphalt goes down,
and the grater goes over, and what does it do? It flattens it out? (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
California developed the foundations
and the framework that describe what we want
children to learn and how we want to encourage teachers
to provide for that learning. This one’s big. This one’s short,
and this one’s tiny. (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
cognitive, language– [speaking in
a foreign language] Motor, all of those
domains of learning. For example, young
children accomplish this incredible agenda
of motor milestones. [children talking] How do we support that
process of exploring what they can do with their bodies in
a way that is very natural and that allows them
to use their bodies freely in order to move through
these motor milestones? In the back of a teacher’s mind
there is a sense of these are the concepts and skills
that I know the children are in the process
of making sense of with respect to science, with respect to math,
with respect to language, literacy, social
understanding, et cetera, so as I set up a meaningful
context for children to engage in figuring something out I’m
aware of the possibility that children may reveal their
thinking around some of these concepts and skills. I need a plate. You need a plate?
Okay. (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
Play really is the vehicle that allows us
to integrate the curriculum because children within
play are going to effectively accomplish
language, cognitive, social, emotional,
physical development all wrapped into one. Hey, Anthony. Hey, Anthony. Anthony, this is yours. This is yours here. Anthony, you sit right here. I’m gonna get
this chair for you. (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
And so it’s really incumbent on the early childhood teacher to keep that awareness of what
are the skills and concepts that we want children to learn. Teacher, what is this? It is a vest. Do you like it? It looks pretty flashy, huh? (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
So when a child enters the room
there are play spaces that are inviting the child
to discover a wonderful array of engaging materials. What are those, Ella? For looking. Oh, they’re binoculars, huh? Yeah, these are
for looking like this. Uh-huh. How those play spaces are
set up is very intentional, and this is where
a well-prepared teacher or team of teachers
makes sure that this happens, that the play spaces can be
seen as learning spaces and that there is a lot of thought
into how they’re prepared as context for learning. Fix your bike. Fix your–look. (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
The role of the teacher in setting up the play
space is very different than the traditional
role of the teacher as one who imparts knowledge
or creates an activity that expects a certain answer. It’s important that in setting
up these environments for learning for young children
that we adopt an attitude of not knowing what the children
are going to do precisely or not expecting one right way
of playing in those play spaces because there is
no one right way, but we know we’ve been
successful as teachers if we have children who are
deeply engaged in play and if they are using
the materials well. Okay, you make a letter,
and when you see one like this that means that’s mine. When you see one like that,
that means it’s yours? Oh, you have to put
an envelope. The adult part of it is
really to observe what is interesting them and then let
them lead you in terms of what you are gonna plan for them so
that we set out things that we think that they seem to be
interested and then to focus on what they do with that. And from that then that
would give us information about how to expand
that knowledge, and that’s where the adult
can be helpful, to expand, to enlarge
that particular interest. In early childhood settings
teachers are always thinking on two levels, who are
the children in my classroom, and how do I meet each child
where they are in terms of what they are in the process
of learning and where they
are going next? So I need to know
each of my children and each of my
children’s families well enough so that I can
plot a journey for that particular child that I can do
with that particular child’s family so that we can
assure that child is well on his or her way in their
journey towards knowledge. We may have children coming
in with different languages. We may have children coming in
with different experiences with peers, so every child will be
different in terms of how they present themselves and that
each child’s curriculum journey will be different. Does it feel
just like the ice? No. (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
Having said that then, I’m organizing
context for learning for my whole group of children,
so I’m also planning for the group of children. So I’m always
working at two levels. You know, I noticed that this
side is the same as that side. (Mary Jane Maguire-Fong)
With respect to the individualized
planning for a child, I think it’s most relevant
when we think of, what are those aspects of
learning that I can offer that child that will support that
child in learning alongside other children within
the play environment? And then what if I put two? What shape is that?
What did you make? I made a square. Oh. ♪♪♪

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