Comments to the final edition of NAEYC’s Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 position statement
here is a link to the adopted position statement:
I realize that this late in the game it becomes a matter of opinion and inevitably, semantics, (tomurphy said “beating the dead horse”) but if I encourage you to make your voice heard, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t do the same. So even when I feel I am nothing but a whisper among the shouting, at the end of the day I know I took the time to express my thoughts and opinions. And even if it doesn’t appear to have “done anything,” the reality is that I chose to be a participant in the process. And that is still “something.”
"Pleeeaaasee send them in clothes you don't care about!"
from the Ooey Gooey, Inc. archives
Don’t you wish you had a dollar for every time you have said, “Please send your child to school in clothes you don’t care about!” We can encourage, demand, threaten, bribe, write notes home, scream, post signs and tell parents until we are blue in the face about the importance of wearing “play clothes” to school, but to no avail! It is frustrating to feel like our words are ignored, and even more so when, after all our efforts and insistence, the children still come to school suffering from what I call, “baby gap syndrome”.
And it affects the children the worst – over the years I have seen children cry because they got a little bit of paint on their shirt, have witnessed emotional breakdowns on the play yard because mud was on the new sneakers, had children tell me to throw their “dirty shirt” away so mama won’t get mad and have had children bound into school announcing that they aren’t allowed to paint anymore because it “ruins my clothes”. I have seen children proudly drag their parents out onto the yard to show off the tree forts, castles and mud houses they spent all day building and creating, designing and painting only to be asked, “Why are you so dirty?”, or be told, with a heavy sign, “Oh no…there’s paint on your new shirt!”
What kinds of messages are being sent to the children when there is so much emphasis on their clothes and shoes? Can the shirt really be more important than the opportunity to engage in a new creative experience? If it is, then it is a shirt that does not belong in preschool. I actually had a child come to school once wearing a green, crushed silk, flower girl dress…and her tap shoes! Like you, I have really struggled with this over the years.
What are we to do?
We tell our families, “Send them in clothes you don’t care about!” and then I show a slide show of the children “in action” and they immediately understand why! I met a director who tells parents, “If your child doesn’t get dirty at school, then we aren’t doing our job!”. Another friend who provides family childcare tells all her new clients, “I guarantee I will ruin their clothes!” And a colleague who teaches preschool tells her families, ”If you want the children to be able to wear it in public again, don’t send it here!” The reason I like to show parents the slide show is so that they can then see for themselves what the children are doing. They can witness the creative process first hand! I have discovered that parents sometimes have a misconception that their children are getting dirty because teachers are not paying attention. Slide shows, short video clips and photographs are tools for educating the parents not only on the creative process, but also of your involvement and investment in the activity as well.
Educators and providers need to be able to verbalize why creative art and other kinds of messy play is important and be able to identify for the parents the skills that are being developed as the children are engaged in these experiences. Remember that the parents aren’t there during the day to see the creativity, cooperation and process first hand; all they might see is the red paint in the hair and the glue on the jeans.
At our schoolhouse the children are not made to wear smocks. We use washable paint for all projects and, at orientation, parents are informed of the high level of creativity we encourage at our school and as such, are required to have lots and lots of extra clothes in their child’s cubby. Knowing that having lots of extras can be taxing for some families, there is also a big tub of clothes I have accumulated over the years at garage sales and consignment shops that children can “borrow” if they run out of extras.
Through parent workshops, parent meetings, articles about hands-on, creative messy play, a back to school orientation and well-written contracts and parent handbooks, you can begin to battle baby gap syndrome.
Awhile back I was asked to do a workshop for a school in Santa Barbara… they asked if I could prepare a list of the ingredients I use to make the Ooey Gooey® recipes so they could have some stuff on hand for the teachers to bring back to their classrooms. They said they had received a grant and wanted to provide some of the materials for the teachers who were going to be there that day. Sure I said! Not an unusual request… oftentimes workshop coordinators prepare goodie boxes so the participants can bring home some of the materials used in the workshop. Let me tell you though…I had no idea about the surprise we were all in for once we arrived in Santa Barbara.
I still do it, but this little gem of a piece is from 2002. Enjoy!
I know some of you still think I’m joking but I really do gather goodies from the side of the road! And I will say that Interstate 15 heading north from San Diego to Las Vegas is like a mall!! It is by far my (so-far) favorite freeway to shop on!
After presenting a workshop I receive many e-mails and calls from people who say they are no longer able to drive down the road or on the freeway without thinking (or hoping) they will see that one new treasured object that they didn’t realize they needed!
Camp has a new favorite. Taquitos. Mary shared the recipe she used as a base, but then also said she “juzzed it up a bit.” They FLEW of the table at camp. Easily modified to be vegetarian and DELICIOUS with the mole verde sauce I posted the other day.
From 2002. Honestly, I’d tweak some things if I was to write it NOW, but for the most part, I think it’s still mostly on target. So I offer, for your pleasure, “Problem Solving and Young Children” by Lisa Murphy
We have all witnessed it… the children who, at the ripe old age of six, or maybe even four, can spell their names, count up to 100, recite their phone number, play a musical instrument, dance for grandma, and maybe can even write a few words, but! when on the playground with peers, and someone takes their shovel, bike, truck or jump-rope what happens?
My Response to the (draft) NAEYC Technology Use in ECE Position Statement
Sent electronically as a PDF to TechandYC@naeyc.org on Thursday May 26, 2011
OF IMPORTANT NOTE: I am posting this here on tumblr for archive purposes. Since I wrote it, NAEYC has adopted a final position which was adopted in January 2012. Point being, I don’t have a link to the actual verbiage that this was written in response to. If someone still knows of one, please send it along! (I searched before posting this here on the tumblr to see if I could find a link to the draft, but to no avail)
To whom it may concern:
Discussions around the topic of technology use with children often turn into debates between the camps of “pro” and “con.” I recently wrote an article that offered a modified definition of technology that stretched beyond consumer based electronics (TVs, computers, iPhones, etc.) attempting to show educators and parents that technology is not limited to things that get plugged in or need to be charged up. The new NAEYC position statement, however, is not so broad. By limiting the definition of technology to electronic and screen-based tools the divide between the camps of pro and con will continue to grow. It has also encouraged many of us in the con camp to find our collective voice.
This being said, I am thankful for the opportunity to provide feedback on the (draft) position statement regarding technology use in early childhood programs:
I appreciate that in the new position statement NAEYC calls on teachers to have a solid understanding of child development and DAP which would allow them to “make good choices” when it comes to technology use, but the reality is that too many states allow 18 year olds with only a high school diploma to be responsible for the daily care and development of our children; as sad as it is to admit, NAEYC cannot assume that all early childhood educators ARE grounded in solid theories of child development or DAP.
This position statement relies heavily on the importance of the role of the teacher in choosing DAP tech materials when the reality is that many materials are purchased by someone else and teachers are simply told to use them. We cannot assume that ece teachers will “know better” because the embarrassing reality is that due to inconsistent (often substandard) initial employment qualifications and (lack of) ongoing training requirements, in many instances, they unfortunately don’t.
This position statement appears disconnected from the reality of how technology IS being used in many ece environments. It often IS being used in such a way that decreases the prevalence of real, hands-on experiences. Touch screens DO replace crayons and markers; in some places because they are “cleaner” and not as messy.
More of a question than a comment, I would like to ask what prompted the decision for a revision to the original position statement? I remain curious as to the potential influence of the “Rationale Statement” authored by Donohue and Schomberg, which was included in the references.
Additionally, when a “Center for Children’s Media” is co-authoring a position statement on technology use it can be perceived as being a bit biased. I was left wondering as to the nature of the relationship between NAEYC, the Fred Rogers Center and the various authors of the document (who all appear to be affiliated with tech-based institutions).
It is rather unsettling that the appropriate age for “technology use” has been expanded to include infants and toddlers; flying smack in the face of the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The position statement indicates that children without early exposure to tech will be at a disadvantage and their ability to compete in a 21st century workplace will be impeded. This argument is completely asinine. The tech tools currently being used by three year olds will be obsolete by the time they are old enough to be hunting for a job and “competing in the workforce.” Additionally, the jobs they will be hunting for have not even been invented yet. The “at a disadvantage myth” preys on consumer guilt, is not grounded in any research and does nothing but increase sales of tech driven products.
This position statement grants permission to tech manufacturers and sales staff to ramp up their already relentless and aggressive marketing techniques. The vendor halls at most conferences already border on inappropriate, it is only going to get worse with the ability to now pitch products as being, “In line with NAEYC’s position statement.”
In true developmentally appropriate early childhood programs you will witness children busy creating, moving their bodies, running, climbing, singing, problem solving, discussing, using their hands, observing, reading and playing; and quite frankly, we don’t have the time, desire or need for flat, solitary, sterile, passive, tech-based media experiences that keep children sitting still and getting fat.
I will remind all who are involved with the creation of this document that no screen can replace the feel of water dripping down your arm as you pour it and measure it in the sensory table, no program or app can capture the tickle of a caterpillar crawling across your hand, no software can transmit the coldness of the ice and snow as you work with peers to make a winter shelter and nothing you plug in can replicate the experience of molding and squeezing clay with your fingers.
“If you want it in their head, it must first be in their hands.” Why we would ever take a position that states otherwise, thus appearing to undermine the importance of children touching and manipulating real objects in the crucial years of early childhood, is beyond me.