Archive for Rochester Daycare

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills article

Here is a great article from NPR that outlines the importance of open-ended play in children’s development.

I enjoy Elena Bodrova’s work on play and self-regulation and her new research is fascinating. Interesting that Maria Montessori incorporated the use of a three-hour uninterrupted “work period” where children are free to self-select tasks, with a goal of helping them achieve longer periods of focus, self-monitoring and mastery over their work. Rather than attempting to cram facts into children’s heads, she recognized the importance of giving children the freedom and the choice to work on tasks independently.

Unfortunately, this type of education is rare and probably won’t be taken up ?in Bodrova’s research as an interesting counter to mainstream lessons.


NY Times Article on the Importance of Play

I just read this article from the New York Times and wanted to share the link with you.

Tools of the Mind was a required text when I taught Foundations of Education at SUNY Brockport. The article talks about the vital difference between free play and guided play in the development of self-regulation in young children. A truly playful environment allows children to practice or rehearse many valuable social skills, including the delay of self-gratification and regulation, which, “is a remarkably strong indicator of both short-term and long-term success, academic and otherwise. In some studies, self-regulation skills have been shown to predict academic achievement more reliably than I.Q. tests. The problem is that just as we’re coming to understand the importance of self-regulation skills, those skills appear to be in short supply among young American children.”

To read the entire article, go to:

Happy Reading,

Rebecca Wolf

Helping Your Child to Enjoy Books

 Helping Your Child to Enjoy Books

by  Dr. Dorothy G. Singer
 A parent is the first role model who conveys to a child that reading is a joyful, enriching experience.  When a child sees a parent reading, and if there are books around the house, and visits to the local library, a child learns that books are a special part of the environment, and contain the  material  that  nurtures  a child’s  imagination. More  than that, a child  will learn that the mysterious squiggles a child sees on the pages  in a book, in a newspaper, or in a magazine are actually  discrete letters that  form into words that communicate meanings.

 What are some simple things a parent can do to promote an interest in books? First and foremost, be sure to talk to your child often.  Your child then learns that language is a tool to transmit ideas,  to  share  information about the world,  and  to  help a child to express her concerns, and  emotions. Your child will also learn that these thoughts can be written down on paper. And we can read them.  We are not advocating teaching reading to preschoolers, but we do think preschoolers can be exposed to  emergent literacy by

1.  giving them familiarity with books;

2.  learning that we read from left to right in English;

3. continuing down  to the next line when we finish with one;

4.  learning  that a  book has a front and back cover;

5. that letters  have particular sounds;

6. that an author  writes a book and; 

7. that a story or book has a title.

Research studies in our lab at Yale University with preschool children in daycare centers, home care settings, and in children’s own homes  in five states used guided pretend play approaches   involving  five imaginative games, such as playing store,  searching for a lost puppy, a visit by a Martian, a  hunt for underwater treasure,  and a birthday party. These games were presented to the children  through videos of children and adults engaged in these pretend games, and then the children  were given the  opportunity to  play the games themselves with the guidance of the teacher or parent.

After just  two weeks of such play, there were significant gains made by the children  in  an understanding of  new vocabulary, increases in rhyming, use of compound words, and in concentration and cooperative play. Many children  did pretend reading and  joined the local libraries,  The results  also indicated that the children  played more of their own games after the study  was completed, and that the teachers and  parents  stated that they now had more ideas for how to approach beginning  reading.

Specifically, here are  five  games a parent  and child can play together to promote  emergent literacy through play:

1. Puppet Play – Use puppets and have your child act out a simple  poem that you read to her.  It can be a favorite nursery rhyme such as Jack and Jill.

  2. Story Time – Tell your child  a story  about your own childhood. Ask your  child to tell you a story about a trip  you took together. You can write down the words, and even draw one thing on the trip he especially liked.

  3.  A  Journey – Take a  trip  around the house, and pretend you make up names that rhyme with the objects you see.     Chair can be  stair,  bed  can be  red, toaster  can be a  roaster,  spoon a can be moon. Write these rhymes  down  and read them together. You read the word  first and have your child  repeat it. 

4. The Merry Monster Book –  Each day you play this game, the Merry Monster does something silly.  Have your child make up a silly stunt such as putting a  pot on his head for a hat, putting  his shirt on backwards,  wearing his sock on his hand . Write down the pranks in a Merry Monster book that you and your child  make with plain paper and staples. You  can begin to read this together as you point to the words.

  5.  Computer Time – Let the child write a funny story to grandparents using  e-mail. Help with the words and then send it off. This give a child practice finding alphabet letters and gives a child a sense of empowerment.  
Author Bio:

Dorothy G. Singer is Senior Research Scientist, Department of Psychology, Yale University and Co-Director, with Jerome L. Singer, of the Yale University Family Television Research and Consultation Center.  She has focused  on early childhood development, television effects on youth, and parent training in imaginative play. Recent books  include Handbook of Children and the Media; Make-Believe: Games and Activities for Imaginative Play; Imagination and Play in the Electronic  Age, and  A Mandate for  Playful  Learning in Preschool. She co- edited  Play =Learning, and Children’s Play: Roots of Reading,  which was selected for CHOICE’s Outstanding Academic Title list. Singer received the award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to the Media by Division 46 of  the American Psychological Association in 2004 and the  Distinguished  Alumni Award from Teachers  College, Columbia University  in 2006.

Name:  Dorothy G. Singer, Ed.D.

Title:  Co-Director, Yale University Family Television Research and Consultation Center, Senior Research Scientist, Department of Psychology, Yale University
Physical Address:  Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520-8205

Phone:  203-432-4565 and 203-393-3933


(Permission granted for Rebecca Wolf to post this article on given on January 11, 2009.

Thank you for sharing your article with us, Dr. Singer!)