This week's blog post writer, Susanne Leslie, is a Curriculum & Instruction Specialist with Learners Edge. Prior to joining the Edge, Susanne worked as a parent educator in Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program and worked with parents of 0-5 year olds- which, we think, gives her special insight into the importance of being little. Susanne is the proud parent of two daughters.
"Children are designed, by natural selection, to play."
-Peter Gray, The Decline of Play and the Rise of Psychopathology in Children and Adolescents
Polar bears in zoos repeat their movements. Standing outside their paint-chipped pens, zoo goers watch as two ton bears dive into the water, climb out, pace, repeat. Over and over again these majestic bears demonstrate what being caged does to an animal designed for movement and activity.
On a recent trip to St. Paul, Minnesota, I listened to Katy Smith—a native Minnesotan, parent educator, and 2011 Teacher of the Year share this story to a room packed with educators hungry to find answers about how teachers can bring play back into their classrooms and to discuss the importance of play in the classroom. As she spoke, there on the screen in front of us: a picture of a polar bear.
In my former role as a Parent Educator, I was given both the opportunity and the responsibility--to breakdown what children were learning in the early childhood classroom and to remind parents and administrators alike of the importance of play in early childhood.