Monday, July 6, 2015

"Six, Going on Sixteen"

The author of the chapter I chose to read was Geralyn Bywater McLaughlyn and she wrote about "fighting 'age compression' and the commercialization of childhood." She provides countless examples of inappropriate conversations and the over-sexualization of the students in her classroom. She writes about her struggles with her kindergarten and first grade students. McLaughlin highlighted a bunch of strategies she used to help her students and families push through the media's "secret education" and help children, be well, children. I believe her overall thesis was “Children are complex, and pop culture and media are not the sole cause of their troubles. However, protecting them from a corporate world that forces them to grow up too soon, and promoting their creative play are two giant leaps in the right direction.”

I chose to read this article because my students are only a tad bit younger then McLaughlyn and I have witnessed my students making similar comments or having similar ideas. McLaughlyn began her article began with different phrases that she observed in her classroom. For example, "my butt is hot!...She thinks she's cuter than me." I have not heard these words exactly, but I have observed my students making comments like, "I look so cute today" or "I wish I looked more like Ariel or Elsa, because they are soooo beautiful." McLaughlyn explained how she was caught completely off guard by the comments and felt unprepared of ways to support her students. As the lead teacher in her classroom she worked with her teachers aid to put strategies into place to support her students. She shared that battling the "negative effect of mainstream media... was an ongoing, uphill battle."

Learning through her trial and error of the previous year, she went into a new year focusing on finding "ways to bring back childhood." Her method, reduce technology and increase play. She incorporated her parents with updates of the classroom "struggles, conversations and solutions." She knew it was important to keep the families in the loop because their support would help facilitate success. Her curriculum supported students observation, problem-solving and pretending skills. She share with her colleagues the changes that were occurring in her classroom and worked to make changes school wide. The school used the weekly school newsletter to "share ideas, reflect, inform, pose questions and stimulate conversations." The school created a Toy Lending Library so that students could share community toys that incorporated creativity and problem-solving. They also participated in family "TV Turnoff Week" and "Family Game Night," these activities helped students and families better understand the importance of play.

McLaughlyn reflected on how she had "felt hopeless," in the past. but through gathering information and support she now feels not only "hopeful" but "empowered" as well. She supports children on how to "learn how to just be kids;" in the world we live in, with the media we possess, her efforts are not only needed but necessary.

1 comment:

  1. I think that play is SO important for kids! We often forget what it was like to be five or six and how hard it is to sit still. Children's brains physically can not stay focused for long periods of time. I think the average attention span for the children you work with is about ten minutes or less! Play allows kids to socialize and learn from one another and it gets their brains refueled and ready to go.