martha's vineyard community services · early childhood programs · family center
Family Matters is prepared monthly by the Martha’s Vineyard Family Center, a program of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services
funded by grants from the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
Playing IS Learning: It’s Good for Brains and Bodies TOO!
Throughout the nation a great deal of emphasis is being placed on the importance of learning and achieving at high levels and building 21st century skills. Schools are increasingly focused on test results that can help us to understand what children have learned and what needs continued emphasis. It is very important that our public schools continue to focus on and ensure the success of each and every learner. At the same time, we also need to remember that young children, really all children and grownups too, learn many things and build important skills when playing. Especially in early childhood, playing is an essential element for healthy growth and development. Play is hard to define, but it is generally agreed that an important feature of play is that the player chooses and directs what happens.
There are many types of play: make-believe, rough-and-tumble, games with rules, games where children make-up rules, board games, video games, or organized sports. The type of play that is most important for young children is child-initiated, spontaneous, open-ended, creative play. Many sorts of activities can be fun, but when they are created and organized by adults, they don’t offer the important features that make play so valuable for children.
Children’s play is best supported when they have access to simple open-ended materials like pebbles, cloth, blocks, boxes, sand, water, bins, buckets, small boards, paints, various tools for digging, mixing, or constructing. Remember when kids used to go outside for hours, organizing their own activities and games, and exploring nature until suppertime? The best toys were real objects, things we found or invented ourselves.
So many toys today are linked to television shows, movies, or other adult-created stories. These undermine the child’s own imaginative play. Toys that require very little from the child or that can only be used in one way are less useful for building thinking, reasoning, problem solving, imagination, and other important life-long skills that are developed when playing.
All children need unstructured, unhurried time in their day for imagination, for creating, and for connecting with nature and the real world. Americans are spending more time indoors, often sitting in front of screens of one sort or another. When children are actively engaged in something they think up themselves, they are exercising their bodies, developing flexible and creative brains, building social skills, and constructing their own identities.
When children are playing they are achieving and learning at their highest level. They take on various roles, solve a variety of problems, create something original and new, In play that is spontaneous and self-directed, the child feels competent and in- charge. This gives the child the freedom to experiment, to “play with” ideas, and to try out something new or different. We all are more likely to experiment and challenge ourselves when we are in our comfort zone. The world’s greatest inventors, artists, and leaders have usually come up with something new and amazing, just by “playing around”!
Ann J. Palches, M.Ed., C.A.G.S. is theEarly Childhood Coordinator forMartha's Vineyard Public Schools and a lifelong advocate for children and play.
Sherri Killins, Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care visited the Island last month. Here she is shown viewing Jen Power's "Music Together" class of preschoolers at Martha's Vineyard Community Services Childcare Center.
November Activity Schedule
11/1 - Bottle & Can Drive -Throughout the month of November Island Children’s School will be having a Bottle & Can Drive. We encourage everyone to collect and donate refundable bottles and cans and drop them off at Island Children’s School’s parking lot in the designated receptacles, weekdays from 4 pm - 6 pm. All proceeds benefit the ICS garden project. Questions call Julie Immelt 508 693-5815
11/2 – Election Day – Don’t forget to vote!
11/3 & 4 - Vineyard Smiles at Early Childhood Programs
11/3 – SuperFun (12-32 month olds) 9:00-10:15 a.m. for three weeks – Family Center – Pre-registration required - 508 693-7900 x288
11/3 - SuperFun (33-60 month olds) 10:45-12:00 p.m. for three weeks – Family Center – Pre-registration required - 508 693-7900 x288
11/4 – Gym Time every Thursday 10:00 – 12:00 p.m. Edgartown Boys & Girls Club
11/8 – School Readiness Part 1 with Ursula Ferro presented in Portuguese pre-registration required 508 693-7900 x283
11/9 – Adoption in School workshop 5:30 – 7:30 pre-registration required 508 693-7900 x283
11/11 – Veterans Day Holiday – most programs closed
11/11 – Waiting Parents Group - 7:00-8:30 p.m. – Family Center - Contact Marney 508 693-7900 x283
11/13 – All Families Touched by Adoption Playgroup, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. – Family Center
11/15 – School Readiness Part 2 with Ursula Ferro presented in Portuguese pre-registration required 508 693-7900 x283
11/15 & 16 – Vineyard Smiles at MV Regional High School
11/16 – Martha’s Vineyard Council for Young Children Meeting 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. MVRHS
11/18 – Silly Songs with Jeannie (ages 3-5) 1:00 – 1:45 p.m. pre-registration required 508 693-7900 x288
11/18 – ASD Parent Group 7:00-8:30 p.m.–Family Center-Contact Marney 508 693-7900 x283
11/25 – Thanksgiving Holiday programs closed
11/29 & 30 Vineyard Smiles at MV Regional High School
Ongoing activities at the Family Center
Open Playgroup every Monday & Tuesday 10 - 11:30 a.m.
Baby’s First Year every Monday 3-4:30 p.m. & Thursday 10:30 – 12:00 p.m.
Dads Playgroup every Tuesday 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Gym Time every Thursday 10:00 – 12:00 p.m. Edgartown Boys & Girls Club
Recycling for Kids
Recycling is an excellent way to teach children about environmental awareness and understanding. The first step in teaching your children about recycling is explaining to them why we should recycle. Children will learn that the earth is their home, and that it therefore deserves their care and respect. It also teaches your child that their daily actions can affect the earth in either a positive or negative way. Identify the Three R’s with your child.
1. Reduce: this means cutting back on the amount of waste used in everyday life.
2. Reuse: reuse an existing item in your household in order to minimize waste.
3. Recycle: recycling means when an object can be shredded, melted, or processed in order to create new materials.
Julie Immelt, Director Island Children’s School