Topics in Early Childhood Education

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Ballerina Mouse

My granddaughter wanted to be a ballerina mouse for Halloween last fall. That theme carried over into her summer plans for a wonderful birthday. And why not? Why shouldn't children still have the opportunity to dream and pretend that life is full of wonderful surprises.

I worry sometimes that children are not encouraged to build an imagination and dream about possibilities. I was sharing with students recently how I used to hurry home from school to play in the hills around our small-town home. I remember making mud pies, building a tree house, playing with the dog and many other things. I didn't even consider watching television or going from one planned practice to another. It is wonderful that we have so many opportunities and options for children in 2010. However, I worry that imagination and creativity is in jeopardy. We need to make sure that children still are encouraged to explore and create their own adventures.

So, Audrey wanted to be a ballerina mouse. No one told her that there was no such thing or that she couldn't pull it off. She WAS a ballerina mouse. It was a great birthday. I wonder what she will come up with for Halloween this fall. It is sure to be good.



At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Amy T. said...

I couldn't agree more! As a parent of 4 year old twins, I constantly feel the pressure to enroll them in all sorts of different activities - especially sports. I have made a decision not to do this - I want them to have time to just PLAY. There is such value in free play - where adults are not imposing rules on them. I love watching them create a "beach" in the backyard or put on old Halloween costumes and create elaborate stories with their own imaginations. I worry about kids being overscheduled at such a young age. Great post!
P.S. There is a show on PBS called Angelina Ballerina - a mouse ballerina ;)

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Cathy Puett Miller said...

Absolutely play is important. There is a terrific amount of research out there that supports this. Check out "Einstein Never Used Flashcards", a book which documents years of research on this very topic.

It's important to get this message out in the public "ears" because there is not enough sharing of this sort of information.

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I'm not a parent or anything so I don't have any children of my own, but I do have plenty of nieces and nephews! I love to see them do things on their own, when nobody is telling them what to do or how to do it. I think sometimes, we as adults, think that if we don't tell our children, or our students exactly what to do they won't learn from it. However, I think that when we let children be themselves, they not only learn more, but they teach us, the adults.

Tarra S.
Education 5310

At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is so cute! I remember when I was young I always played outside and used my imagination instead of watching tv, children don't seem to do that these days. It is important in and out of the classroom to encourage a child's creativity and imagination.

-Tiffanie 5310

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can definitely see the advantages that children today have with the advances in technology, and the possibilities of where that technology will be when today's children are grown is endless. Sometimes, however, they can get too caught up in it all, and they have no genuine ideas. I also think some of the problem is that parents use t.v. and video games to keep their kids occupied while they work or clean, instead of encouraging them to develop their imagination. I remember as a child playing with all of the children on my street, and coming up with whatever our imaginations could dream. My 5 year old nephew was playing in the dryer a few weeks ago, and we overheard him say, "Captain, I can't see the whale, but I think it's standig next to you!" I LOVE seeing where children's imaginations take them, it is much more interesting than television!

Kelli S.

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a cute story and picture! I definitely think we are living in an age where children are participating in more and more organized activities. While I think that a few carefully selected activities can be very beneficial for children, I agree that overexposure can stifle creativity and freedom of expression. Growing up, it seemed that many of my friends were enrolled in program after program. Our parents had to work long hours, and it seemed to be the only viable option. Many of these activities seemed to encourage children to be complete conformists. We were told what to do and how to do it. In essence, we were all carbon copies of each other. It is so refreshing when children have original thoughts and ideas, as opposed to copying others. In my experience, Halloween costumes usually consisted of popular characters from companies with great marketing teams. Kudos to your granddaughter to breaking the mold and being wonderfully creative!


At 6:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I feel that there is somuch pressure on children right now to be involved in activities. It does take away from the positive aspect of play and imagination. I have talked to so many parents who want their three year old child to be able to write letters and even read. This is too much for children, they need to play. I never went to preschool, I was babysat by grandparents until I started kindergarten. I played with my cousins. We would take off on explorations through the woods for the entire afternoon. That is how times change and it really makes me feel like they are missing out on so much that we experienced as children. I love to watch my children and neices play, what imaginations they have. Just the other day they were playing library and I was laughing so hard because they absorb everything that they see. They have the library down and I think they could run it well. :)

At 6:44 AM, Blogger Gini B said...

What a cute story! As a mother of a 4 year old and a 6 year old, I completely agree with you. Imaginative play helps children to develop physical skills, cognitive skills, and social-emotional skills. I enjoy watching my daughters create and environment from everyday items. They set up a cafe one day with a large box, milk cartons, etc and played for hours. The dialogue and the learning that occured during their play was amazing to witness.

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved reading this! I am a mother to two wonderful children who are 1 1/2 and 4 years old. I think you hit the nail on the head. Children learn through play, imagination, and creativity. :) I also loved that you provided a picture of that little ballerina mouse. :)

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think another consideration to be made, is that of Television. What is it doing to our children today? Some of it is very good and assists in development, but too much of it is mindless. And children run home from school to catch re-runs of full house or whatever else is on now. It is important to foster an environment of creativity and exploration. Dreaming is important. I am just now coming full circle in life and realizing that dreaming should never stop. We should continue to make plans and hope for the best, re-adjusting when interests change, but always realizing that fantastic things can happen when we dream.

Kristen W. 5130

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Delma said...

How common is common courtesy? I've heard this question before. I grew up playing out, physically interacting with peers. Now days there is too much t.v., games, and computers, people texting. Not only imagination and creativity is in jeopardy, also exercising, interacting.

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Gemma said...

This is so cute as a toddler games dress up game!


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