October 18, 2012
Lisa Murphy aka, "The Ooey Gooey Lady," was the keynote speaker at the annual Raising the Stars of the Future Early Childhood Conference that was held at UNK September 15. Lisa is an early childhood specialist and highly sought after keynoter known for her ability to link hands-on activities to educational conferences. Lisa spoke with passion and enthusiasm as she emphasized the importance of early experiences. New brain research shows that how children learn to get along with others and control their feelings is greatly influenced by their earliest experiences.
She emphasized that play is school readiness. Environments that encourage play are environments that are preparing children for kindergarten, future elementary school academics and a love of lifelong learning. This foundation then supports the house of higher learning. If we're concentrating on academics and ignoring social/emotional skills, we're not getting children ready for school. She identified the seven activities we need to do with children each day in order to encourage love of lifelong learning and create the foundation which will support future school success: create, move, sing, discuss, observe, read and play.
Lisa also mentioned the following framework can help identify and create child centered environments:
• Time - children are provided with long periods of uninterrupted free time for exploration and interaction within their learning environment
• Outdoors - the outdoor environment is not considered a separate space, but instead is seen as an extension of indoor space.
• Rules - children have the freedom to explore this environment with few restrictions. We have one overarching rule: "People are not for hurting."
• The Secret - the secret to good teaching is learning how to control the environment.
• Facilitating - teachers are serving as facilitators within this space, deepening the child's investigations and providing activities and materials that reflect the needs and interests of the children in the room.
• Articulation/Being Intentional - teachers are aware of their language and actions and can articulate the intention behind what they are doing in the classroom.
• Theorists - teachers understand child development theory and know the history of their profession.
• Keeping It Real - we celebrate the concrete. Children are provided with engaging experiences that are (literally) REAL. If you want it in their head, it must first be in their hands. You will see children exploring real objects. Not coloring dittos of them. Activities must engage all the senses!
Two other excellent presentations were made by UNL Extension - "I Am Moving I Am Learning" and "Fussy Eaters" presented by Family Service Child Care Food Program.