Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe


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My Connections to Play

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Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens up to new possibilities.

– Stuart Brown,, MD,Contemporary American Psychiatrist

Play, while it cannot change the external realities of children’s lives, can be a vehicle for children to explore and enjoy their differences and similarities and to create, even for a brief time, a more just world where everyone is an equal and valued participant.

– Patricia G. Ramsey, Contemporary American educational psychologist

Reference:

The Strong (2015). Play Quotes. National Museum of Play. Retrieved from             http://www.museumofplay.org/education/education-and-play-resources/play-quotes

On weekends, at the break of dawn, I feel excited to wake up and explore the outdoors. Feel the warmth of the sun on my head when I climb trees and play hopscotch. It is so different when I wake up from Monday to Friday thinking I could be

red-gumamela-flower-82892_1280sick so I do not need to worry that I would be in trouble with my teachers if I do not answer the fraction problems correctly or identify the subject and verb agreement in an English sentence. I liked playing in my world where I discover that rocks can be used to wood-350145_1280draw and write on pavements, and flowers can color my cheeks and lips. I made “oil” out of Gumamela leaves that I pounded with a stone, used leaves as money, made drums with sticks and covered my nails with petals of flowers. I loved my days of freedom to choose, to explore and to create without being afraid to fail in my attempts.

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Growing up with five siblings who are just one to two years apart, we enjoyed our weekends, holidays and summers playing together. There was one condition that our mother asked us to do before playing – that we should do our assigned home chores. From washing the dishes to making our beds, we were all eager to finish our tasks to get on with our business – play. I remember my siblings and I collecting all the blankets and tying them up together, then we put them on our head imitating the peddlers that shout “Bili na ng kumot!” (blanket for sale). We collected broken jars from the garden so we can draw our hopscotch or play “teacher-student”. Our form of play was elevated to a sophisticated clubhouse that was built by our grandfather. He allowed us to pound the nails with a hammer and sand the planks that we used as walls and floor. It resembled a real nipa hut with a traditional kitchen and bedroom. Our mom allowed us to use the old kitchen utensils so we can cook in our playhouse. We mimicked the lifestyle of the farmers that we saw on TV. We dressed up in our grandfather’s old clothes and shoes. Our daily allowances were saved so we can go with our housekeeper to the market to buy our food to cook in the playhouse. We made fire with wood. Our grandfather taught us how to make fire. We were reminded to pour water in the charcoaled wood after cooking and before leaving our playhouse. We picked mangoes and starfruit from the trees to add to our playhouse meals. We learned life skills and how to practice safety habits as part of our play. Thanks to our mother and grandfather who trusted our skills and ability to problem solve, regulate ourselves, and to do things that people would think could be dangerous. It was fun!
Ironically, my daughter’s childhood was spent in the world of the concrete jungle. She did not have the big outdoor space where we lived when we were young. She did not have five siblings, nor children in the neighborhood to play with. Like many other children, she was confined in the house with her store-bought toys. Her play dates were organized and controlled – picnics at the beach, rides at the mall or bowling for kids at the entertainment square. This was my daughter’s world with her friends at least sixteen years ago. Fast forward to the world of our present children, they are glued to Ipads, compelled to attend structured activities such as painting and dancing after school and required to learn advanced math and reading skills from tutorial centers. From the time they wake up to go to their programs to the time they attend after school activities, these children go home with barely enough time to think of things they could choose to do. They get ready for supper and an hour or two later, would be bedtime. In those moments when children were engaged in organized and adult-initiated activities, did the children have the time to play with others and build friendships? Did they have opportunities to negotiate, assert their emotions, understand the feelings of others or even problem solve? It is my hope that as adults, we would give these children of the present generation a chance to be in an environment that they can explore, use their bodies for active play, discover their identities, and develop relationships where they could learn from and with each other. Through developmentally appropriate opportunities to develop cognitive, personal, social, emotional, mental, and physical aspects, children would have the intrinsic motivation to able to sustain their thirst to learn for life and be successful in their future.


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My Personal Web of Relationships – An Exploration of Who I am and Why I am

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Research in neuroscience affirms the importance of positive social interactions in the development of the brain.  Cozolino  (2014) posits that the absence of stimulating interactions cause people and neurons to wither and die. Cozolino writes,

“In neurons, this process is called apoptosis; in humans, it is called depression, grief, and suicide.”

Moreover, Cozolino explains that the optimal sculpting of the prefrontal cortex enables us to regulate emotions, think of ourselves, trust others and maintain positive expectations.

Human relationship is a complex concept that encompasses our interactions and connections with many people in our environment that can impact the healthy development of the social organ – the brain. This assertion makes me reflect on the relationships that I have/had – their effect to my present disposition and my effect to them as well.

I see a web of relationships that have molded me to the person that I am and made me extend relationships that molded others, too.

My symbiotic relationship with my mum started when she raised me as an independent child. She always recognized my capabilities that developed my self- esteem to tackle challenges. She allowed me to make mistakes 10408017_10152746078587377_4021338798956328403_nwithout judging, trusted me with my decisions, and encouraged me when I am reaching my low moments. Those times I faced conflicts and problems, she encouraged me to find the answers on my own – maybe tough love that is. Knowing that she would not be able to shield me from the challenges of the world. Now as an adult, I go back to her and give that love back, maybe not in the exact form that she shared it with me, but in a way that makes her feel that she is important to me. Raising all children, she gave up all material desires so that we can go to school, finish a degree, and have healthy, nutritious meals on the table. Those were her priorities. Now it is my time to give her what she missed on while raising us by giving her presents she would not afford herself, bringing her to places she wished she could see and most of all the gift of time to see her (since I am geographically far away) during important occasions that she would hope to see family. Then, it was my turn to raise a child. It was a challenge being a single mother, but like my mother, I committed all my time, effort and resources to my daughter. She is a young adult now, finishing university in a year’s time and getting ready to tackle the challenges of being completely in charge of herself. Growing up, she learned how to earn by baby-sitting in our 10152438_10152053995057377_1578096705156119336_ncommunity. Every time she got paid, she would always treat me for a nice meal or buy my favorite picture books. We both love reading picture books together. My mother always told me to let my child have the opportunity to give and share as well. So each time she offered to buy a meal, I obliged. My daughter and I are in different countries, but we continue to nurture our relationship. We remember to share our stories, good or bad, to each other first. There were no secrets kept, although sometimes I wished, she would not tell me about her personal matters.

Outside my family relationships, I have friends, and colleagues with whom I have emotional attachments. I moved to Busan, South Korea with my daughter to teach. Although I had qualms, I thought it would be the best move for us. Being in a foreign place where you do not speak nor understand the language, it was a challenge. The school culture photothen was shaped by singles who seemed to be happy to be in their own clique. I was sad, worried and lonely. We lived in an apartment managed by an old Korean couple. They turned out to become my foster family. They introduced me to the culture and made me understand how things work in their country. A few times I got sick, they took care of me. My daughter and I spent a lot of time with them. We went on road trips, hiked, and even made meals together. I think we filled the absence of their grown-up children who live far away from them as they did fill the absence of my family as well. I grew to care for my foster parents just as how I would care for my parents if they were around me. I would say, my happy and positive moments here in Korea were those times spent with them. They helped me weather the storm and remain stable to nurture my daughter and keep my job.

There were and are many more relationships in my web. Some of them I have kept and continued to nourish, and some are waiting to be tapped again because of distance while some I had to let go because the trust and confidence were gone. Although some have failed, they still have contributed to my deeper understanding of relationships.  The relationships that remain in my web therefore, are those that continue to foster positive interactions and meaningful connections. There is a continuous flow of serve and return interaction that encourages you to take care of the relationships. These personal experiences provide a lens on how I establish relationships with children and families at work. When I truly respond to their needs just like how the people in my relationships have responded to me, they trust me to be their guide. Similar to my needs, they also require trust, empathy, affection, honest communication, and understanding in order to bridge relationships and allow me to be a part of their learning.

Reference:

Cozolino, L. (2014). The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology). WW Norton & Company. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.kr/books?hl=ko&lr=&id=dYUYAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=human+relationships&ots=kjOraXxZoQ&sig=dgAWVtyeKxUZ2tJmIGaHf_h7qXk&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=human%20relationships&f=false