In his sermon on erev Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Lyon passed out orange bracelets for everyone in the congregation. They were the typical rubber bracelets with wording on them. This wording hit a homerun for me. The words on the bracelet were “And this too shall pass.” In Hebrew, the words Gam Zeh Ya’avor circle the other side. My mother used to say this phrase to me when I was a child. It was mostly used when something bad happened, like I didn’t get asked to spend the night with a friend or I didn’t get the date I wanted. Maybe someone fell ill and would eventually get better. I never really thought about the reverse of the events. For instance, when something really good happened, we never said, “and this too shall pass.” However, the phrase does go both ways.
I was coming into the building yesterday when I met a student and her parent. The student was upset, and the mother was consoling her. I asked why she was upset and she shared that the work in her class was difficult and she was worried that she wouldn’t accomplish her goals of making really good grades. I happened to have my orange bracelet on, and I showed it to her. I explained the meaning and talked with her about taking a few moments with her mom to make a plan of action for being successful. If she followed the plan and worked hard, she may not make perfect grades, but the feeling of anxiety about her work might pass. She finally smiled, left with her mom, and returned to school soon after ready to tackle her assignment.
Of course, it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes things don’t pass so quickly, but I have found that when something happens that can eventually be resolved, “This too shall pass,” is a comfortable way of sharing that you care.
Best wishes for a healthy, happy year filled with blessings for your family.
I recently read an article in Early Years the journal of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children entitled “Extending Learning and Problem Solving Skills in the Block Center”. This article was written by two teachers who wondered how they could enhance the level of play in the block center. They were about to begin a unit of study on dinosaurs and knew, too well, that typical dinosaur play would include lots of dinosaur fighting. They wanted their children to play differently and knew in order for that to happen; they would need to teach them how to play differently.
In their research to enhance play, they discovered Parten’s Play Stages (1932). Parten identified six levels of play in which young children engage:
Unoccupied–The child watches what is happening around him, generally remaining in one place.
Onlooker–The child watches certain children play, and may talk to other children but does not attempt to enter play.
Solitary–The child plays independently or alone and does not attempt to play with other children.
Parallel–The child plays near other children but not with them, plays independently with similar toys, in close proximately.
Associative–The child engages in conversation and plays with other children but follows her own directions; play is not organized and roles are not assigned.
Cooperative–Children play in organized groups, create products and work toward a common goal; play may include dramatic play and formal games and usually involves one or two children taking on the role of leader.
The teachers recognized that it is perfectly appropriate for children to play in any of these six stages during their early childhood years; however, they wanted to provide their children with the opportunity to practice more cooperative play.
It was their thought that they could provide better use of the block center if they implemented some basic guidelines and preparation of the environment. They began to plan how they could raise the level of play for their dinosaur unit.
On the first day of their unit, they brought out a box of dinosaurs. Sure enough, the children wanted to get to them quickly but the teachers explained that they would play with the dinosaurs once the children built them a habitat. With the teachers’ guidance, the children identified food, water, and shelter as parts of a habitat. The teachers allowed the children to build the habitat in the block center. They added items such as blue material to represent water. Prior to adding the dinosaurs, they asked the children what it would be like if they were only allowed to eat, drink, and sleep in their home each day. The children agreed that would be boring. They were quick to list other activities such as swinging, jumping, running, and the likes. The teachers were happy to see the children engaging their dinosaurs many of the activities that they had listed. Did they also see dinosaurs fighting? Of course, there was fighting but there was also a deeper understanding of dinosaurs and their habitats.
The teachers successfully extended this type of planning to the dramatic play center by asking students to set the table and plan the meal prior to cooking and serving when playing in the kitchen center or to set up the grocery store prior to selling when playing store.
At Shlenker, we understand that play is academic. In fact, it is suggested that children between the ages of two and six learn best through self-created learning experiences. My hope is that you will be able to raise the level of play during your next playgroup by just adding a couple of prop items and a brief discussion of what might be needed to make the play more cooperative. Happy playing!