Play is Important For Black Children

Well, for all children…

But I’m speaking in reference to our brown babies.

One of the things that I tend to reflect on is where we are headed as a global community. Where will technology and all its advances carry us? I think one of the things I’ve come to realize as an adult is that things are changing and they are changing quickly!

Everything is Changing…

The way in which we even listen to music has changed tremendously over the last twenty years. We have machines that do our laundry. Microwaves that warm up our instant meals. We can shop online. So much of what we need and want can easily be accessed without even leaving the house. With that said, we also need to think about how we work and our lifestyles. So much of our access through technology has changed the way in which we live and how we survive. Living in the United States affords us so many opportunities in having things done faster than ever before.

 

There are positives and negatives to these advances. On the positive side, being able to get things done quickly potentially allows for more time to spend with family and ease the stress.

The negative of that, though, is that many of us just end up piling up more on our plate since we have more time.

Another positive is that we are able to constantly connect easily to people; the downside being that we are often too engaged in our technology that we barely make time for real connections.

Changing Workforce…Are We Ready?

We are also a society shifting toward a type of workforce in which is different than that with which we grew up. We are no longer in the mindset of “industrial” work. Though I, like everyone else, cannot say for sure exactly where we are headed, it’s important to consider that a few things are happening simultaneously.

1. We are becoming a society that relies on technology to do what we used to have to do on our own…or relied on other people to perform.

2. Because of this fact, many of us are moving with the rapid reliance on technology and as a whole eliminating old school trends; in other words certain jobs that are available now will no longer be available.

3. Because of number 1, people are also at the same time becoming more self-sufficient as a way to “disconnect” from some technological advances. For example, many people are opting to grow their own food as a result of our “ready-made/not always so healthy” microwaveable dinners. Because of our “dips” in the economy, people are also taking the initiative in starting their own small businesses and finding ways to live comfortably without relying on the typical 9-5.

Focus on that.

The workforce is not what it used to be and calls for a different type of mindset to be able to function in the future.

We literally need a different approach to how we navigate the professional world. Though there may be a lot of the same jobs available, it’s crucial to note that many jobs will not. The future is calling for more resourcefulness, innovation and creativity in building on what we already have as a whole and how we live as individuals with families. Let that sink in! This is fairly new for us to embark on and definitely new as it relates to how quickly technology is advancing!

 

How Do We Prepare Our Children?

How does that relate to early childhood? What does it have to do with our babies? I’ll tell you! We have to prepare them for what is to come…even when we aren’t entirely sure what exactly is to come. We do know that we want our children to thrive…and part of that thriving comes from the characteristics I mentioned in what the future calls for: resourcefulness, innovation and creativity. This will require a “different” approach to early childhood learning.

5 Parts to Much Needed Early Learning

“Different” is placed in quotations as it actually isn’t as different as we might assume. But I will start with some examples of appropriate approaches needed in early childhood first:

 

  1. Play based
  2. Open-ended materials
  3. Child led activities
  4. A more “facilitated” teaching style as opposed to direct
  5. Plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors

 

There are more things that I could put on this list, but I wanted to give you a sense of where early childhood education needs to focus. And in looking at this list, you might say: “Isn’t that what early childhood learning is all about?” My answer to you is: ABSOLUTELY! So it seems, my friends, that we actually need to get BACK TO BASICS in order to prepare our children for the unknown. Giving our children learning environments that prepare them to be critical thinkers comes from that same “hands off in allowing and hands on in engagement” strategy that I always discuss. This is nothing new!

So What’s The Problem?

But what happened? We are still in a paradigm to where many educators are misinformed or brushing up against resistance from “higher powers” that do not understand how early childhood works. We have children sitting at desks for too long. We have limited recess. We have three year olds getting homework and two year olds doing worksheets as a means to pacify people who have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to young children.

I am here because I am fearless and I am going to start telling the truth. It is an absolute joke to think that programs like “My Baby Can Read” will be the driving force for success. Developmentally appropriate practices is a real strategy in how we coach our children. And force feeding them information too early by drilling or with “fancy” gimmicks will not make a positive difference.

We want confident children who are able to think for themselves and build on inventions that are already here. How can you do that when we have teaching approaches that are generally teacher led…especially teachers who have an old school mindset of the working industry? We just discussed that it’s likely that we are no longer heading in that direction, so we literally have to think differently ourselves!

What You Can Do…

I am calling on you to start thinking differently about early childhood. Let’s start putting the focus on taking back our power as parents and caregivers who are truly invested in supporting these children in the present so they can navigate the future.

Want compassionate adults? Give them plenty of time to practice sharing through play time.

Want adults who care for children? Utilize dramatic play with baby dolls.

Want adults who take care of the planet? Be sure to give them plenty of time outdoors in nature.

Want adults who will invent? How can they do that when we hoard the experimentation process and allow little time for them to explore science materials on their own?

We can do better. And as these blog posts progress, so we’ll our commitment to raising well prepared children.

-Ms. Ashley

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