Archive of ‘Child Development’ category

The Intelligence of Creativity

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’

— Pablo Picasso

IMG_1656My experience as a special education teacher, and through my childhood as a student, has cemented by belief that there are so many ways to be intelligent. Some people excel at math, some excel at understanding turned within literature. Some excel with empathy and intra-personal skills. Some excel at drawing and photography. Some excel at athletics.

Most have multiple forms of intelligence, which can be fostered if given the opportunity. If you are interested in reading more about multiple intelligences, research Howard Gardner.  He breaks these intelligence down into eight categories:

Musical

Visual-Spacial

Verbal

Logical

Interpersonal

Intrapersonal

Naturalistic

Creativity is a form of intelligence that can be seen through many different talents.

I believe that everyone is creative. I believe that if we foster this creativity and allow ourselves to give into this creativity, we feel a sense of grounding as a human. I also believe there are multiple creative outlets.

IMG_0175My husband is a creative problem solver. He takes in logistical mind and can tap into creative ways to strategies within a company. He is also has great spacial awareness.  He can visualize a map and navigation well. (I’m the type that needs to flip my phone around as I go in order to understand a map! Thank goodness I’m not in charge of navigating big family road trips!)

My dad is very bodily-kinstetically creative and intelligent. He was a tennis coach for many years and was able to teach players how to see their bodies in perspective with the world around them. He is also able to conceptualize a home project and bring it to life with his hands. He has a logical mind as well and can take an idea from start to finish in direct steps.

My mom has an amazing naturalistic intelligence. She creates gorgeous gardens and flower pieces. She can also decipher what makes a landscape beautiful or express how nature can ease your mind. She uses this creative talent in the kitchen as well- taking plants and meats and transforming them into delicious meals to enjoy as a family.

As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to help them understand and believe in their creative intelligence. 

I have tried to expose Lydia to life experiences that help nourish these intelligences. While I mostly focus on the natural world, we began finger painting when she was very young. She loves the sensory experience of painting. It always starts off calm, her gracefully sticking her finger in the paint. Within a minute, it turns into a full on sensory experience of mushing, splattering, squishing, crinkling, giggling and me preventing her from eating her art.

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Painting with their feet is a wonderful way to add sensory input into their day. You can sing “jumping songs”, help them walk across their arts and who doesn’t love little baby foot print art?

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Tummy time art was one of our favorites. Sometimes I just played her on a blanket or threw a towel over a Boppy pillow. My personal favorite was my husband’s idea of putting her on our corn hole board to prop her up. As you can see, she thought this idea was pretty awesome.

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As she is getting older, I can see her artwork change. Yes, it still looks like a jumbled mess of colors, but it you look closely, you can see the movement of her hands differing from her original masterpieces. 

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We are blessed with friends that love to get dirty too! One of my favorite things to do is to host painting play dates. Also, if you are a naturally inclined mama, check out Alexandra’s Instagram feed for some inspiration. ( Also, stay tuned for my new recipes for natural paint.  I use all different paints- homemade and some awesome natural ones that you can buy. I’m now trying to stay clear of the regular store bought paint do to the toxins. )

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Above all else, I challenge you to allow yourself the freedom to create. Allow your children to be creative, even if it means spending the ten extra minutes to clean up the mess. 

 

Learning Philosophies

 

As a parent and educator, I am often asked what my plan is for schooling for my little girl. It is always a perplexing question for me because the term “school” has become an interesting term in my mind. I believe in learning, but I like to look at it as an all the time event, not as a decision to make at a particular age. But the answer people are looking for is what type of school I will be sending Lydia to. As of now, the answer to that is that I don’t plan to send Lydia to formal school anytime soon. I plan to expose her to learning experiences throughout the week through museums, library time, play groups, nature walk, traveling and at-home exploring. I plan to allow her to play and learn through make-believe and building.

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I plan to let her run wild outside and see what her body can do. I plan to have her come home and reflect through journaling and narration. I plan to take her to museums and look at art, then come home and create her own masterpieces. I plan to have her go to story time at the library, then come home with a pile of books to read. I plan to take her on trips to learn a world not in our backyard, then come home to reflect on this new adventure.

IMG_5240But formal school? I am still up in the air on this. I want to learn about her learning style ad see the flow of our family. I want to see what is available at the time. I want to be flexible with our decision. The short answer is, I plan to homeschool. The long answer is probably something you don’t have time for. I have beautiful big plans for our family, just like all parents do.  My suggestion for all parents when they go to look into schooling and home learning is to learn all of the different philosophies of learning and see what fits with their family philosophy.

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As of now, we are a bit eclectic. I pull for Waldorf and Charlotte Mason mostly. I am learning more about Reggio and find it very inspiring as well.

I complied a very basic list of education philosophies.

 

Montessori:

  • Windows of learning opportunities
  • Un-interrupted “work time”
  • Multi-age groupings in classroom
  • Focus on sensory experience
  • Learning in a prepared environment
  • Greatly encourages independence
  • Belief that children like to do “real work”
  • Specifically designed materials for learning purposes
  • Specific play/work areas

 

Charlotte Mason:

  • Encourages “living books” and meaningful literature
  • Lessons are short (10-15 minutes)
  • Focuses on habits
  • Daily and weekly nature walks
  • Nature notebooks
  • Art appreciation, artist studies
  • Narration of what child has learned

 

Waldorf:

  • Academics aren’t taught until around 7 years
  • Make-believe play for large parts of the day
  • Story-telling is part of the day
  • Great amount of found materials in classroom/home
  • Predicable structure, focus on rhythm
  • Group learning and collaborative projects
  • Balance of “heart, hand and mind” education
  • Art infused in all subjects
  • Nature-based environment
  • Technology/electronics very limited

 

Reggio:

  • Project based approach
  • Interest based learning
  • Documentation of learning through photos and written work
  • Collaborative learning
  • Open spaces
  • Environment is considered the third teacher
  • Loose parts play

Play-based Parenting Group: Greenville

This post is intended for local Greenville, SC families.

 

The Fourth Monday of the month 9:45-10:45 will be our go to for Play-Based Education Time. This is when we will meet and discuss play theory and allow the children to play.

9:45-10:00 Introductions, Play theory discussion.

10-10:45 Play Activity for the Kids

(Toys for he kids to play with  provided by Natasha)

Kiddos and parents are welcome to head to Falls Park or the Splash Pad to play. We do ask that you try your very best to get there ready to chat at 9:45 so that we can have a nice discussion together. IMG_6211

On July 25th, we will be discussing the beauty of open ended toys as our first introduction to The Theory of Loose Parts. Prior to the event, I will put up a blog post related to the topic so you can learn and read up on it so that you are ready to discuss.

 

This event, like all support groups events is free. I am hoping that other parents may take it on themselves to plan play-based learning playgroups the other Mondays.

If you attend the playgroup, I would love if you would get involved in the social media. This entails posting photos of you doing follow up activities, sharing how you carry out the theme at home, hash tagging your photos with #PlaygroupGreenville so we can continue to learn from each other. Don’t forget to ask to join our closed Facebook Group as well.

I will be hosting some additional Sensory Playgroups but unsure of when/where at the moment. This will be a structured play-group that focuses on giving young learners a tactile sensory experience. With my background in special education and my passion for early childhood education, I feel that messy, sensory play is an area many parents shy away from. This group is meant to give parents some fun ideas to introduce more sensory play to their children in their homes. I will prepare a sensory activity and we will all be involved in letting the children play and explore. I would love to get some other local moms involved in these sensory play groups.

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The first Wednesday of the month 10-10:45am, I host a parenting support group for Upstate Attachment Parenting. Well Nested, a wonderful childbirth services center in Simpsonville, was kind enough to let use their space for this event. This group will have a monthly theme where we talk about different components of attachment parenting and offer each other guidance, resources and support. August 3rd is our first event! Please see this link for details and to RSVP via Facebook. This event is not linked to Play-based Parenting of Greenville of Playful By Design, but we would love to have you join.

Play. Play. Play

Children’s brains are incredible. The child-development lover nerd in me is fascinated by  learning about the neocortex and play. These little humans that we have the honor of raising have neurons that are firing and creating pathways at rapid speeds. The neurons, communicating with each other, is what make learning happen. Synapsis are formed a crazy rapid pace during the first three years of a child’s life. In fact, a toddler has all of the synapsis that they will have through their entire life. The body actually goes through a pruning process and rids itself of synapsis that it believes do not have a function. The brain also decides what synapses, for lack of a better term, will “open” by way of learning. This is where our role as parents and play-facilitators comes in.

We have this ridiculously large responsibility to help children learn. The good news? It is easier that it sounds.

Play actually helps form the structure of a babies brain.

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When my husband asks us what we did today, my response is usually, “Play. Play. Play.” It started as a joke when I was running my play-based tutoring company that turned into a larger endeavor than I had ever imagined. I spend long hours fretting about the children, talking with parents, training tutors and learning about all of the different learning styles of children. Truth was, when I was running the company, I didn’t play much. I worked. Hard. It was exhausting, invigorating, interesting, beautiful, humorous and down-right awesome to see children’s growth through play.

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And now? I still work hard, just in a different way. Being a mom, I work hard to create play activities everyday. I believe in a mix of structured learning activities and free play. But most of all, we play. We play outside, we play inside, we play in libraries, we play at museums, we play at coffee shops, we play in parks and we play in the woods.

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P.S. I’m not saying I don’t do housework and work on my start-up, but I truly belief life is what you make of it. Life is an adventure, and I choose to play on my adventure. 

Please stay-tuned for our new e-course on play-based learning and parenting, local workshops and of course fun play ideas.

Edited: As requested by all of you wonderfully engaged parents, I will work on a post about how these neurons and synapsis work soon.

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