“Powering the Light to Learn: Empower Playgrounds”
Empower Playgrounds has developed electricity-generating playground equipment that turns children’s play into renewable electricity that charges lanterns the children can use to study at night. Since Empower Playgrounds began in 2008, they have installed 60 merry-go-rounds at schools throughout rural Ghana. The resulting access to electricity has helped children elevate their reading levels. As those reading levels have increased, so has their attendance and desire to attend school and learn more. Students have begun to thrive in ways previously not possible. At Empower Playgrounds, they believe that increased and improved education will have the most beneficial impact on the children of Ghana of any other effort.
“The Promise of Pickles: Hydroponics in the classroom”
Live plants in the classroom provide many opportunities for informal and formal learning. Plants grown by hydroponics grow three times faster, which allows students to observe the entire life cycle from seed to harvest in a short amount of time. The benefit to this method of growing is that it allows for the completion of full science units within the time of the growing process. Students become invested in the plants they are nurturing. They ask questions that can lead to deep and authentic scientific inquiry. Another benefit of hydroponics is that the entire root of a plant is viewable, which allows students to have a visual of what typically happens unobserved underground.
“Using Nudge Theory in Early Childhood Classrooms”
Encouraging young children to follow the six-foot guideline for social and physical distancing to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus is a challenge for early childhood teachers. One effective way to do so is to provide visual reminders of how far away they should be from other people by placing stickers on the floor that are six feet apart. This subtle intervention to help children comply while minimizing coercion, or the assertion of power, is called a nudge. Examples of nudges are easy to find in a typical early childhood classroom.
“Everyone Is Someone: Evolution of an inclusive school in Sweden”
Sweden has undergone many educational shifts in recent decades, going from a highly centralized system with a focus on collective education to a more market-guided system that offers more choice for the individual. Throughout this period, “education for all” has remained the guiding principle of government education policies, though some have wondered whether this ideal can survive current challenges. The question of whether the increasingly market-driven educational environment can offer choice and maintain equity is not the topic of this article. Rather, we highlight the way that one school in particular has maneuvered through the challenges, thanks in large part to its staff’s unwavering commitment to the school motto: “In this school, everyone is someone.
“Rising to the Challenge: Innovative early childhood teachers adapt to the COVID-19 era”
Early childhood education has faced many challenges throughout the years, including accessibility, quality of preschool programs, and lack of a skilled and qualified workforce. There is no doubt that the challenges are many, and that race, culture, ethnicity, language, and economic status continue to determine the educational gap between privileged and underprivileged children. In 2020, one more challenge arose for families, teachers, and school administrators—the very contagious COVID-19 virus.
“Putting Relationships First: Using principles from Reggio Emilia to be responsive to our students”
At its essence, the Reggio practice of observation and reflection allows us to be more aware of who our children are and who we are. These practices become ways to make sure we are not being too rote and that we work to understand what children are saying to us about their experiences in our classrooms. It is also critical that we listen to more than what they literally say—that we reflect on what they do, how they respond, and how they interact. What we see, what we hear, what children make, and what families do all become part of the soundscape we work to respond to as educators. We hold the intention to develop this capacity in our relationships with children, with teachers, with families, with our community, and with our space as key to our capacity to be culturally responsive.
“Agency With Virtual Learning: Prioritizing children’s social emotional health in the pandemic”
A relationship-based approach means honoring the child’s agency as a being and as a learner, and relying on the relationship between adult and child to be a force of regulation and resiliency. When children experience consistent or significant upsets, a relationship-based approach means retooling how we “be” together, it means focusing on presence and praise as foundational tools of cooperation, and it means acknowledging and reducing the stressors children are experiencing (acknowledging them as mattering to the child without qualifying them as minor or major).
“Children and Teachers as Researchers in Action”
Our Young Researchers Project (YRP) recognizes the benefits and challenges of working with children, particularly when doing so alongside teachers who also may be research novices. We supported teachers’ developing knowledge in the face of uncertainties and challenges to ensure that they listen to the voices of children in their schools through a meaningful research process. we have been mindful of creating a safe space in which staff feel comfortable acknowledging what they do/do not know about research with young children. The model has enabled fluidity and flexibility with each school and across the project as a whole. This is the firm foundation that has supported schools’ advancement of education in a simple yet distinctive evidence-based manner.
“On Pandemics, Technology, and Early Childhood Education: An opinion piece”
As administrators and teachers cope with leading and teaching in a reality of social distancing, one subgroup of learners cannot equitably participate in the process: early learners. When we consider the young child’s developing brain, can there be detrimental effects in the way and to the extent that online instruction is integrated into early childhood programming? If so, where is the tipping point? I am concerned with the potential long-term impact on children’s physiological selves when introduced to certain technologies at an early age, particularly when prolonged environmental conditions severely limit live, in-person learning opportunities.
“The Impact of Tablets and Apps on Language Development”
While emerging evidence suggests that tablets and apps can have a positive effect on early literacy and language learning, there is no clear consensus on the extent of benefits and risks for young children’s development. To harness the benefits of tablets and apps, three key factors should be kept in mind: quality of the apps, quality of child experiences with tablets, and quality of time spent on tablets. App quality and characteristics such as level of age appropriateness, interactivity, and hotspots impact learning and potentially distract learners’ attention from the storyline or learning goal.