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Making Happy Happen
January 11, 2022
I am just going to keep having fun every day I have left, because there is no other way of life. You just have to decide whether you are a Tigger or an Eeyore.
-Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture

“Are we diminishing our children’s sense of wonder?” asks professor of early childhood education, Christopher Brown, Ph.D., in an online article in Psychology Today where he expresses his dismay at what is happening in kindergarten classes in the United States:

“Across the country, kindergartners are being told what to do and how to do it, every single step along the way, all day long. They play less and study more than they did 20 years ago. This is what kindergarten has become, and it’s not a good thing. Besides diminishing children’s sense of wonder and their ability to see themselves as learners, this constant push for children to learn academics through routinized activities can negatively impact their learning in elementary school and even through high school.”

Current research is indicating that asking children to “play less and study more” is also finding its way into some early childhood programs.

Rachel Robertson, in her article that is the foundation of an Out of the Box Training, “Making Happy Happen: Building Resilience in Children,” describes how vital it is for early childhood programs to guard children’s happiness. She writes, “as children grow we tend to spend most of our energy helping them achieve, whether it be in school, work, hobbies, or other endeavors. Somehow we’ve linked happiness with achievement. But the truth is, achievement and happiness are not synonymous…While progressive achievement is a worthwhile goal for children, it should not be pursued instead of, or worse, at the expense of happiness.”

Robertson writes that instead of forcing inappropriate academic activities, she proposes a much more important focus in the early years:

“One of the best ways to nurture happiness is to prepare children for the adversity they’re guaranteed to encounter in life: in other words, develop their ­resilience. Ann Masten, a leading researcher on resilience calls it ordinary magic: a commonplace phenomenon that can do wondrous things…Purposefully developing a child’s naturally resilient tendencies will give him the essential life skills he needs to cope with challenges, adopt a positive perspective, and develop self-confidence and self-worth, all essential ingredients for happiness.”

Out of the Box Training

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Out of the Box Training Kits are ready-to-use professional development programs on a variety of contemporary topics to support and improve the skills and pedagogy of those who work with young children.

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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Exchange Press · January 13, 2022
United States

Hi Cheri! It also breaks my heart that children are playing less. I'm thankful for educators like you who recognize this and are providing children these opportunities to play and challenge themselves.

-Tiffany at Exchange Press

cheri richards · January 11, 2022
Honolulu, Hi, United States

It hurts my heart that children are playing less and their sense of wonder is not being challenged. Yes routine is a good thing but children also need to figure out things on their own and not be like robots. If teachers took the time to go back to what they learned about inquiry and hypothesis. They will also learn that critical thinking allows children to think out of the box. I like providing keiki with various recyclable objects and see what they come up with.

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