Your preschool staff had a wonderful continuing education training yesterday. Cari Ebert, MS, CC-SLP (a nationally known speaker) shared her thoughts (backed up with research) of the the most important things for early childhood educators to understand. I am so proud to say we already embrace the ideas she presented! However, she gave us some wonderful research to back our thinking as well as tips and tricks of the trade.
She first addressed what teachers of young children should be – RESPONSIVE
– Responsive teachers are engaged (they get down on the child’s level, talk with children (not at them), follow children’s lead, play with children)
– Responsive teachers are intentional (they embed learning into everyday activities and routines, teach in context, create child appropriate environments)
– Responsive teachers are playful (they are lighthearted, they are animated, they laugh with children, they build relationships)
– Responsive teachers are sensitive (they respond to a child’s pace, limit the number of test-like questions, keep interactions natural, keep expectations realistic)
She then talked about how young children learn best:
In context (this is one of the reasons we do not do a letter of the week), exploration using all their senses, through social interactions (we often say social interactions are often the most important thing about Aldersgate Preschool), and finally through play-based movement.
Cari talked quite a bit about her worry about high-tech (screen) type play/activities.
Here is a list of all the things high-tech play is displacing. When children spend time with a screen they miss out on:
face to face interactions with other people
play-based movement (rolling, crawling, walking, climbing, running, jumping, skipping, hopping, hanging, digging, dancing – all of this movement supports the child’s natural development of muscles, coordination and even brain development) You can see a previous post about the importance of movement HERE.
exploration of the environment
manipulating and playing with toys (and here she highly suggested battery-less toys)
the ability to wait (delayed gratification – those screens are pretty immediate in their actions)
parent-child verbal interations
Anna Sosa, Ph.D of Northern Arizona University conducted research that determined that parent-child verbal interactions were reduced when they had electronic toys, rather than traditional toys such as puzzles, shape sorter, blocks and books
Screen time also affects vision, sleep, language and motor skills. (This tags right onto my soap-box discussion during our orientation meetings this year)
With more time looking at objects close up (screens) more children have less time to develop their long distance vision muscles. Therefore, we are seeing more children needing glasses for near-sightedness.
Sleep is affected by the use of screens. This blue light affects the development of melatonin. Screen time also takes away time for that heavy, deep play movement we mentioned before. The children’s muscles haven’t been used an therefore the body does not feel tired for sleep
A recent study found that toddlers who were exposed to handled screen time were more likely to have expressive language delays.
Screen time limits the use of hands and development of those muscles and coordination. We are seeing more issues with children being able to cut, hold utensils, etc.
Screen time displaces movement which contributes to strength issues – beginning with the large muscles (such as core strength) which then affects the small muscle development.
Cari explained the difference between speech and language. Language referes to a whole system of words, symbols and gestures used to intearact and communicate with other people. Speech refers to the actual words we speak.
Cari also talked about the importance of phonological awareness skills and a language rich environment. This is something I will share in a later post.
You can find more information from Cari Ebert on her group page on facebook or instagram. She posts information and fun ideas for both parents and teachers.
We will definitely ask Cari Ebert to present again. She has a few other presentations about speech & language, sensory input and more.