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Changes and Challenges in ECE
October 8, 2019
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrain of nature the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.
-Rachel Carson

Rae Pica, on the Community Playthings blog, writes about three things. She explains: “Early childhood educators tell me a lot of stories when I keynote or train. And since I’ve been speaking and training for almost four decades, you can imagine just how many stories there have been. Lately, though, I keep hearing the same three stories from teachers throughout the country.

1. More children are unable to cross the midline of the body.

Sadly, this isn’t surprising, considering one pediatrician’s contention that infants are spending upward of 60 waking hours a week in things, like car seats, high chairs, and such. One of my colleagues calls this ‘containerized kids’…

2. Children don't know how to play anymore.

When I did my first professional development training in 1981, never in my wildest imaginings could I have foreseen teachers complaining that children don’t know how to play. Yet this is the second thing I’m hearing. Some of the reasons behind this aberration are painfully clear. Between digital devices and television, children have a multitude of images at their fingertips. They have no need to imagine because marketers and video producers have already done all the imagining for them…

3. The children have no fine motor control.

‘The children can’t grip a crayon or paintbrush. The children can’t use scissors. The children don’t know how to hold a pencil.’  On and on it goes—much of it coming from kindergarten and first-grade teachers. And the sad part is, this isn’t a surprise at all. There are two major reasons why. The first is that the little ones are far more likely to be holding a digital device these days than a crayon or pair of scissors…”

Another issue being reported widely in the early childhood field is the rise in challenging behaviors. Karen Cairone, writing in the Exchange Essentials article collection, Conflict and Behavior Challenges in the Classroom, begins her article this way:

He just won’t listen; She loves to push my buttons; He’s trying to ruin my day; I’m completely overwhelmed; I’ve tried everything. There is nothing else I can do to help this child.

If you work with young children, chances are you have heard, thought (or possibly even uttered) some of these phrases in the past week. Typically, teachers enter the early childhood field because they love working with children and want to help them succeed. Hopefully, they didn’t pursue a career in early childhood because they want to help only the ‘easy’ children. Reaching and teaching all children means ALL children — not just the ones who sit quietly, nod their heads, and smile every time we speak. Children learn to use positive behaviors just like they learn to use letters and numbers — through teaching and direct experience.”

Source: “The State of Early Childhood,” by Rae Pica, communityplaythings.com, April 3, 2018

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Comments (3)

Displaying All 3 Comments
Martha Magnia, MA · October 08, 2019
Fresno City College
Fresno, CA, United States

I couldn't agree more; though this is just my opinion. Yes; there seems to be an increase in the use of media, TV programs, and the screens of hand-held devices. As I explain to my students, the best play opportunities for young children are those children develop with their imagination, creativity, materials, and the use of their bodies. When told to go outdoors, I have heard young children say; "What do I do?" Never once did my children say this as youngsters. They were to busy finding cardboard boxes, string, tape, garbage bags, and spoons to dig in the dirt. Technology is a good thing; but it isn't a substitute for play.

Leslie Winckel · October 08, 2019
Albuquerque , NM, United States

I really feel kids have stopped playing because nobody teaches them; they have no role models. Children spend most of their lives at daycare centers. They aren't getting the love we had in the '80s. Nobody looks at a child like their family does.

Mary Beth Comella · October 08, 2019
St Francis Xavier
St. Joseph, MO, United States

I would love to have this article however the ESSENTIALS code did not work.

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