Spring Staff Development Day
By Liz Prives, Assistant Teacher
If there’s one thing Bing Nursery School teachers take very seriously, it’s play. So the spring staff development day was serious stuff for the teachers, especially since it went beyond theory to actual practice. This spring, the event took place on April 28 and focused on the importance of play.
A highlight of the day was a presentation by Bing head teachers Adrienne Lomangino, Kitti Pecka and Peckie Peters, who gave the 40 other teachers at the event a preview of their parent seminar. The seminar inspired a discussion on the role of play in early childhood education, and also helped teachers think of new ways to support play in the classroom.
The presentation began with a video of children engaged in play with building blocks followed by an explanation of the characteristics of play. Play, Lomangino emphasized, “is the right of every child.” She then went on to describe the characteristics of play. According to Lomangino, play is satisfying, spontaneous, meaningful, and voluntary. It is a process rather than a product. Play is a child’s private reality. It is rule-governed and can be symbolic. After defining the characteristics of play, she discussed the relationship between play and child development.
She highlighted how play leads children to develop socially (turn taking), emotionally (reading peers’ body language, feelings and emotions), physically (muscle development) and cognitively (memory, expression and reasoning) [see page 7 for more information].
After Lomangino discussed the importance of play and its role in child development, Pecka addressed how play is introduced to children at Bing Nursery School. For many children, Bing is their first experience with play outside of the home. According to Pecka, the ideal environment for young children to learn how to play is one that is stress free and encourages interactive play. Examples of interactive play include painting on easels side by side, and dancing to music.
Following Pecka’s portion of the presentation, the teachers had the chance to go into a classroom and engage in free play using the basic materials. In the block area, teachers took part in the various stages of block play—carrying, bridging, building enclosures, creating decorative patterns, and naming their structures. Parallel play led to cooperative play as teachers connected their buildings. The teachers shared a laugh when their structures came crashing down. They then worked together to rebuild.
After lunch, the focus turned to other topics, starting with Linda Darling-Hammond, professor at Stanford’s School of Education and co-director of the School Redesign Network, who discussed the need worldwide for adequate teaching training and preparation [See page 5 for more information].
The day concluded with a presentation by current Bing parent Tandy Aye, MD. Aye is the mother of Emmett Chung, and is a pediatric endocrinologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. She talked about the most common childhood birthmarks (stork bite, café au lait, Mongolian spot, port wine stains and eczema) and rashes (ringworm, cold panniculitis and impetigo and molluscum contagiusum). She also showed slides to help teachers identify the birthmarks and rashes on children in the classroom.
At the end of the day of learning and play, teachers saw more clearly than ever the importance of play and and how it contributes to child development. We came away with new ideas on how to stimulate and guide young children’s play at Bing.