Why movement matters for kids

If you have some time, we highly recommend you bookmark and read this piece from The Atlantic, which talks about why movement is important for kids. We believe in this philsophy wholeheartedly at Elements, and our kids learn everything from soccer to yoga to krav maga, apart from getting lots of time and space for unstructured play.

As Vanessa Durand, a pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, says, freedom of movement is necessary for children to meet their developmental milestones: “Children learn by experiencing their world using all of their senses. The restriction of movement, especially at a young age, impedes the experiential learning process.”

Movement allows children to connect concepts to action and to learn through trial and error. “If you walk into a good kindergarten class, everyone is moving. The teacher is moving. There are structured activities, but generally it is about purposeful movement,”comments Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of early-childhood education at Lesley University and the author of Taking Back Childhood, describing the ideal classroom setup. In the classroom culture she advocates for, “[Kids] are getting materials for an activity, they are going back and deciding what else they need for what they want to create, seeing how the shape of a block in relation to another block works, whether they need more, does it balance, does it need to be higher, is it symmetrical. All of these math concepts are unfolding while kids are actively building and moving.”

Research has shown time and again that children need opportunities to move in class. Memory and movement are linked, and the body is a tool of learning, not a roadblock to or a detour away from it.

 

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Snow: Play and Learn!

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We are very fortunate to have a large yard that the children can experience nature in, while still being in a controlled, very safe and supervised environment. And since it’s been snowing in New York now, it has given us and them an opportunity to play with snow. The snow-filled yard and our greenhouse have been our classrooms the past few days.

We encourage the children to approach and understand the winter wonderland in stages. The first snowfall is clean and pristine so the children can taste it. As it gets firmer, they make snowballs and snow cakes. Finally, they paint on the ice as it begins to freeze.

This first-hand, sensory-laden experience is priceless and the best teaching tool possible.

If you’d like to look, please do visit our snow post from last year, too.

It’s 2017!

Happy new year! We hope 2017 is full of happiness, good health and all things wonderful for you and your family.

We’re very excited to have you back here at Life At Elements, the official blog of Elements Preschool.

We are an urban nature preschool on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Inspired by the Forest School System, we aim to connect children to themselves, nature and the community around them. This sense of connection, in turn, leads to the development of crucial social, emotional and thinking skills. At Elements, we are creating a community of children who learn by doing, and who understand themselves and their world better.

Drawing inspiration from nature, we offer an environment rich in artful materials and experiences. Staying aware that children’s brains are like sponges and incredibly receptive, our goal is to stretch their minds. We do this via outdoor play, natural materials, art, music, movement, dance and yoga, cooking and drama. We also grow our own vegetables in our custom-landscaped garden, and cook with them, introducing children to the farm-to-table philosophy, as also to newer tastes and cuisines. To know more about us, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

We started Life At Elements last January, with the aim of giving all of you a window in our world. It’s been really fun and instructive to record our activities here for a whole year and we’re so looking forward to starting this new year.

To make it easier for you to navigate the blog and find the posts you like, all our food posts are now categorised under Cooking with Kids. Do try our recipes at home with your children – it’s a great way to educate their palate and teach them about healthy eating. Our other posts are categorised under Try This At Home, Around The School and Learning At Elements.

We will be posting every Wednesday and Friday this year, and you can follow us on Facebook, as well. If you’re a WordPress user, please do follow us. We’d appreciate it so much.

Thank you, again, for being here. We’ll be back on Friday, with a great recipe post, so be sure to check in.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays, everyone! We’ve had such fun celebrating at Elements, these past days. The children enjoyed making arts and crafts to mark Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, as you can see in the pictures below. We also baked holiday cookies, had a visit from Santa and celebrated with friends and family.

Thank you so much for your support through this year. We appreciate every visit and every comment. Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and we will see you in January.

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Our spooktacular Halloween

We thought you might enjoy a peek at our Halloween celebrations. The children came in costumes that day and spent time doing fun craft activities – making mummies, and ghosts and painting pumpkins. We had organised a pumpkin hunt the day before, so each student had one to paint.

Then, we went trick or treating and ended the day with a really fun spooktacular dance party.

How was your Halloween? Head on over to our Facebook page and tell us, please

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Why kids should garden

Last week our students harvested a crop of tomatoes that they had planted and tended to. We used the tomatoes – which were delicious! – in meals through the week, and everyone loved eating what they had grown.

 

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Do you garden with your kids? You should, because these are just three benefits:

How gardening can affect the BRAIN:

There is a myriad of scientific concepts you can discuss with your kids when planting and tending to a garden. One study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. The wonder of seeing a garden grow may spark your kids to ask questions like: Why do the plants need sun? How does the plant “drink” water? Why are worms good for the plants? Soon you will be talking about soil composition, photosynthesis and more! Add a little math while gardening by measuring how much plants are growing from week to week or counting the flowers on each plant. Supplement the experience of gardening with books about plants, trips to a botanical garden, or a photo journal of the plants that you are growing.

How gardening can affect the BODY:

When children participate in gardening, the fruits and vegetables that they are inspired to eat will no doubt have a positive effect on their body. But the act of gardening itself can also promote a healthy body. Kids LOVE to get their hands and feet in the dirt, which can run counter to the modern parenting style of compulsively keeping hands and surfaces cleaned and sanitized. However, consider the “hygiene hypothesis,” a theory that a lack of childhood exposure to germs actually increases a child’s susceptibility to diseases like asthma, allergies and autoimmune conditions by suppressing the development of the immune system. So getting dirty while gardening may actually strengthen a child’s immunity and overall health.

These days all kids could benefit from a little more physical activity and sunshine they’ll get while gardening. Activities like moving soil, carrying a heavy watering can, digging in the dirt and pushing a wheelbarrow can promote gross motor skills and overall strength for a more fit body. Plus, these activities, known as “heavy work,” have been shown to help kids stay calm and focused.

How gardening can affect the SOUL:

In this electronic age, kids need time for meaningful family connection. Time in the garden allows for team building and promotes communication skills. Planning a garden, planting the seeds and watching them grow give kids a sense of purpose and responsibility. Making sure that the plants get enough fertilizer, water and sun fosters mindfulness. The concepts learned while gardening, like composting food scraps for fertilizer or using gathered rainwater, can show kids a deep respect and responsibility for taking care of our planet.”

Resource

10 Inspired Gardening Projects for Kids

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