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Seeing Children Do More with Less

by Deb Curtis
May/June 2011
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/seeing-children--do-more-with-less/5019984/

Imagine not offering babies any toys until they find their hands for play. My mind started spinning as I heard Janet Gonzalez-Mena describe this approach used by the Pikler Institute in Budapest, Hungary, where they have documented over 75 ways that babies learn to use their hands for play.

This is such a different emphasis than what I often see in early childhood programs and homes in the United States. Babies are regularly surrounded by colors and images on walls and fabrics, along with toys that beep, rattle, and flash. Older children are presented with a multitude of toys and materials, together with activities planned and led by teachers and parents. I share some of this emphasis, as one of my favorite things to do is to design and create environments for children. I love to find and offer interesting materials for children's exploration and learning. I have a wonderful collection of open-ended materials that I present as 'invitations', and I always look forward to what children do with what I offer. Although I am always thoughtful to avoid overstimulation as well as to ensure the materials encourage children to be the inventors of their work, the story of the Pikler ...

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