Otherwise known as the Ooey Gooey Lady, Lisa Murphy is one of my favorite presenters. After a little time with her you feel good about doing what you love for the little people who need you so much. You also laugh so hard you feel like you just did an ab workout. Even though I'd seen most of this presentation before I went to get a little kick in the pants to recharge for the rest of the school year. The handouts for this presentation are available for free on the Ooey Gooey website.
Lisa started with the seven things we must do with children each day. They are:
Lisa shared with us a graphic she calls "The House of Higher Learning," which is a simple house picture with all sorts of academic topics listed randomly. Underneath the house is the foundation, labeled "Play," which has the first six things in the list above as its components. In early childhood education we create the strong foundation which future teachers will build upon. Without play, the foundation is weak. Our job is to give children lots of experiences so they are ready to learn more academic topics later.
Creating doesn't always mean art and it can't always be something that you can bring home. Building and imaginative play are two such creative endevours, as is problem solving. Lisa then went off into an interesting discussion on the 80 stages of scribbling and announced that "horizontal lines are underrated." She's basically talking about the need for a child to have mastered crossing the midline before being ready for school. She explained that just because a child hasn't crossed the midline at the age we normally send children to school doesn't mean he needs an evaluation. It likely means he just needs time to mature. She explained that even though we send kids to formal schooling earlier than other developed nations we have the lowest literacy rate of developed nations because we're asking kids to learn what they aren't ready for.
It's important to move and kids learn best when they have a chance to move. Even so, in the U.S. 40% of schools have eliminated recess. That's 16,000 children. There are three types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Your classroom should suit all of those types even if you don't learn best in one or more of those ways. The squirmers require movement in order to process information. Lisa pointed out that the U.S. is the only country that allows direct-to-consumer drug marketing. We are also the largest producer and user of ADHD drugs in the world. Coincidence? Just because a kid can't sit still doesn't mean he needs to be assessed ad then drugged, it means he needs to have his learning style appropriately engaged.
Bev Bos says, "Songs are the hooks to hang memories on." Musical intelligence is the first one you get and the last one you lose before you die. When you can't remember anything else in old age you'll remember the songs you learned as a child. It's important for us to give kids some of those songs. And yes, they are learning when you're doing music with them. If you don't know any fingerplays, get to know Hugh Hanley.
Social and emotional competence is more important than knowing the alphabet. Do the kids know how to get their shovels back? If not, help them learn before those shovels become staplers and office supplies. In the handout was an excerpt from an article about how people skills help kindergarteners more than knowing ABCs. Discussing is about learning problem solving and practicing listening and social skills.
Incorporate all the senses, not just looking. Take time to use all the senses.
Read until you can't read anymore. Learn how to fix books so the children can see how much you value them. Provide good books daily. Your goal isn't to get to the end of the story but to instill a love of story. Make sure children see you read. Have books all around your classroom, not just in the book area, and take some outside with you.
Playing is not really a seventh thing, but it is the cement of the foundation. If you don't play while you're doing the other six things the foundation is weak. Play keeps it all together.