At first glance, you may be surprised that the blog and the Facebook stream are not just constantly updated with preschool activities and toy and book reviews. That is because I draw from a framework that requires more information and invites more learning than just focusing on the children. In order to really educate our young children in the ways of engineering, and all the STEAM topics for that matter, I also think it is important to invite adults to learn, too.
So when I say that I am an advocate for children as playful, independent STEAM learners these are the topics I think it is important to share:
Playfulness: There is a movement toward embracing the value of play. Not only have we started to recognize the value of play for appropriate and excellent childhood development, but psychologists are advocating for play being an important part of a healthy adult life, too.
For my work at Preschool Engineering, I write about play and I share articles that other people have written about play. One of my favorite lists that defines play is from Psychology Today:
(1) Play is self-chosen and self-directed; (2) Play is activity in which means are more valued than ends; (3) Play has structure, or rules, which are not dictated by physical necessity but emanate from the minds of the players; (4) Play is imaginative, non-literal, mentally removed in some way from “real” or “serious” life; and (5) Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind. (Psychology Today)So I share anything that I think applies to these basic tenets of play. And, as you can probably deduce from this list, learning about and advocating for play necessarily means we need to learn about independence.
Independence: I believe that learning happens inside an individual. Of course, I firmly believe that learning is informed by the people and materials that surround the learner as well as the types of experience he or she has.
So when I write and share articles for Preschool Engineering fans, I look for resources that advocate for children as independent, yet small, humans, who are wildly capable of learning. I think about activities and toys that a child can do safely by himself or herself.
I also think about adults as independent learners. Knowing how busy parents, grandparents, teachers and other caregivers are with the responsibilities of life, I try to offer interesting invitations for you, my readers, to learn on your own (or alongside your child).
Respectfulness: The articles I write and/or share regarding respectfulness are probably the ones that are simultaneously the most engaging ones but also the ones that are the least STEAM-y. At first glance, learning ways to be respectful of ourselves and respectful of the people around us may not seem relevant to teaching and learning STEAM topics. However, as a parent, I have found it of paramount importance to approach learning from a place of respect: recognizing and respecting the behavior and activity of the child as well as the topic.
If we respect our limits and the limits of our young children then we have the potential for infinite learning. We can choose activities and set goals that are appropriate and achievable!
If we respect the limits of the subject matter then we have the opportunity to learn across disciplines, again seeing the potential for infinite, complex, and deeply satisfying learning.
Those are some of the ideas I draw from to be an advocate for playful, independent STEAM learning. I share articles and memes from a variety of sources that have as their focus play, independence, and respect. I hope you enjoy what I offer as much as I enjoy offering it to you!