In her book Motivated Minds, Dr. Deborah Stipek states, “we need to raise children who feel competent, autonomous, and secure in their relationships to others. Kids will be self-motivated to learn when they feel capable and skilled, and confident of becoming more so; when they have some choice and control over their learning; and when they feel loved, supported, and respected by their parents” (Stipek and Seal, 2001, p.3). I love this quotation because I believe as educators, we truly need to strive to empower children to be self-motivated and confident. We also need to make sure we are being so intent on cultivating a safe, loving, supportive environment for these skills to be acquired.
Someone else I admire and want to follow more closely is Elena Bodrova. In an article, she states: “…play that has a potential for fostering many areas of young children’s development, including social and cognitive development, has the following characteristics: 1) Children create a pretend scenario by negotiating and talking to peers and use props in a symbolic way; and 2) Children create specific roles-and rules-for pretend behavior and adopt multiple themes and multiple roles. When children engage in this kind of play for most of their early years, they learn to delay gratification and to prioritize their goals and actions. They also learn to consider the perspectives and needs of other people. They learn to represent things symbolically and to regulate their behaviors and act in a deliberate, intentional way. Most primary school teachers would probably agree that they don’t expect kindergartners to enter first grade with a complete mastery of spelling or addition. After all, it is in the early elementary grades when children learn these academic competencies. However, teachers of entering school-agers do hope that the children who come into their classrooms can concentrate, pay attention, and be considerate of others. These areas are developed not by using flashcards or computer programs, but through interacting with peers during play” (Leong and Bodrova, 2005, p. 2).
I love the emphasis on the importance of play here, especially in speaking to children’s ability to develop feelings of empathy through it. I believe as a nation, we are striving to push academics and standards in an attempt increase test scores, but may be doing so in a way that is at times neglecting early childhood development and crucial factors, like the need for encouraging play and activities that focus on character development.
I was also inspired by what Sandy Escobido said: “we, as professionals in the early childhood field, have an opportunity to shape a child’s life for the better” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). This is so poignantly convicting, especially after difficult days or moments in the classroom. It is imperative to remember that as teachers, we are so important to a child’s development and we play such an essential role in offering positive change and growth. This is the kind of teacher I want to constantly strive to be: one that constantly seeks to better herself and the lives of her students.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2010). The passion for early childhood. Baltimore: Author.
Leong, D. J., & Bodrova, E. (2005, September). The Importance of Play: Why Children Need to Play. In ResearchGate. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234633527_The_Importance_of_Play_Why_Children_Need_to_Play
Stipek, D., & Seal, K. (2001). Motivated Minds (p. 3). New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=zDlkAwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false