In an online article in the Atlantic, Lara Dotson-Renta writes that “experiential learning, in which children acquire knowledge by doing and via reflection on their experiences, is full of movement, imagination, and self-directed play. Yet such learning is increasingly rare in early-childhood classrooms in the U.S, where many young children spend their days sitting at tables and completing worksheets. Kindergarten and preschool in the U.S. have become more and more academic, rigorously structuring kids’ time, emphasizing assessment, drawing a firm line between ‘work’ and ‘play’—and restricting kids’ physical movement. A study from the University of Virginia…found that, compared to 1998, children today are spending far less time on self-directed learning—moving freely and doing activities that they themselves chose—and measurably more time in a passive learning environment.”
Rusty Keeler’s popular new book, Adventures in Risky Play, encourages all early childhood educators to look for ways to include more experiences full of the “movement, imagination and self-directed play” that Dotson-Renta describes.
Children’s play advocate and consultant, Marc Armitage, says: “This is a book that encourages you to completely change the way you think about how children could and should play.” The book offers gentle guidance to help adults say yes to more risky play, while also keeping a firm grasp on safety.
What is Your Yes?
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Adventures in Risky Play: What is Your Yes? goes to the heart of risk-taking and children. As educators working with young children, we all have boundaries and feelings around what risky play is allowed. Rusty Keeler invites us to examine the cage of boundaries that we have created for ourselves and our children. He challenges us to rattle our cage and discover where the lines are movable. In our role as educators and caretakers, when we allow children to play and confront risk on their own terms, we see them develop, hold their locus of control and make choices on how to navigate the bumpy terrain of a situation. What better teaching tool for life is there?
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Elsa, thank you the comments and using the questions with your toddlers. I'd love to hear back about their answers!
Jennifer, I like the word careteachers! Thank you.
Juanita, I'm so glad you are teaching this to our future educators and leaders. It's needed!
-Tiffany at Exchange
I definitely agree that children need to play with things that interests them, facilitated by teachers who understands this.
I enjoyed the 10 ways to increase positive behavior. I will be using the questions with my toddlers. Also very informative article on why children need water.
In college I picked up the term Careteachers and liked it. As for the profession, I like Early Childhood Education, or ECE.
Rusty Keeler is right on. I teach at Johnson County Community College & teach my students that Risky play is great play. It's how young children play and learn how to think. If we let preschoolers play with anything that interests them, children will learn how to think and respond and do great school if they have teachers that understand this and let them play and discover their world!