Doug Unplugged: A kind reminder

“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”– Chinese proverb

My blog post is inspired by a lovely storybook Sophia and I found while browsing the library shelves, titled: “Doug Unplugged,” by Don Yanccarino.

While I read the book to Sophia I couldn’t help but think about how I could use this book with my Early Childhood Education students — the lessons to be learned, topics to be discussed.

The story left me thinking about the last time I revisited a magical moment from my childhood. Trying to remembering it as vividly as possible – what I saw, what I  heard, what I felt, smelt or tasted. All ingredients we discuss as important for children in childcare centres.

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Doug Unplugged: By Don Yanccarino

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Doug is a robot. His parents want him to be smart, so each morning they plug him in and start the information download. After a morning spent learning facts about the city, Doug suspects he could learn even more about the city by going outside and exploring it. And so Doug . . . unplugs. What follows is an exciting day of adventure and discovery. Doug learns amazing things by doing and seeing and touching and listening—and above all, by interacting with a new friend.

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“When children are fully engaged in their play, their activity and learning is integrated across developmental domains. They seek out challenges that can be accomplished… through play, children learn trust, empathy and social skills.”(Pascal, Every Child. pp. 8.9)

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Dr. Jenny Radesky of Boston Medical Center, became concerned when she noticed the lack of interaction between parents and children. She had observed that smartphones and handheld devices were interfering with bonding and parental attention.

Radesky said, “They (children) learn language, they learn about their own emotions, they learn how to regulate them. They learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people’s facial expressions. And if that’s not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones.”

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.”           -Rachel Carson

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Here are some ideas of how parents can provide an atmosphere in which wonder can flourish in children. A sense of wonder is created, nourished, and sustained when:
  • Sensitive parents react in a prompt, responsible, and satisfying way to the voiced and unvoiced needs of their children
  • Parents have lovingly held and cuddled their child in ways and amounts that addict not only the child but the parent to their mutual comfort and joy.
  • The child feels secure in the child-satisfying love and attention of her parents.
  • Parents and other adults who are models for the child regularly show their surprise, interest, and attraction to the natural world and its happenings – from the movements of a worm, the wag of a dog’s tail, bubbles popping in a bath, the shadow cast by the sun, and a spider’s web, to the mold on an old slice of bread.
  • Parents and other adults close to the daily life of the child interact with the child and her world from evident interest, spontaneous humor, and joy.
  • Parents encourage children to freely experiment, taste, feel, hear, see, explore, and get into things that are interesting and safe.
  • Parents show their pleasure and delight and create novelty in what otherwise would be life’s daily mundane chores and routines.

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wonderment

noun won·der·ment \-mənt\

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Educators have been implementing a variety of techniques and methods into their lessons that build on Piaget’s principles. Children need to experience the world around them to accommodate new ideas. Children “construct an understanding of the world around them” and try to understand new ideas based on what they already know and discover.

For children, face-to-face interactions are the primary ways they gain knowledge and learn.

Classroom Connection: “There should be a balance between teacher-initiated and child-initiated activities – times when a member of the team guides the children’s learning and times when children are given opportunities to choose activities to demonstrate their knowledge.” (FDEL-K, p. 8)

 

Radesky JS, Kistin CJ, Zuckerman B, et al. Patterns of mobile device use by caregivers and children during meals in fast food restaurants. Pediatrics. 2014;133(4). Available at: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/133/4/e843

Carson, Rachel. The Sense of Wonder. New York: Harper & Row, 1956.

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