Look at the Princess!


We just finished tending three of my grandchildren for a week at their home in California. We had a blast. Except for one case of strep throat, it was a delightful week and I look forward to doing it again soon. One of the highlights of the trip was my two-year old granddaughter’s entrance down their living room staircase. She would go up to her bedroom and dress in one of their princess dresses, then call to us from the top of the stairs so we could watch her descend as a princess. Whenever I would say, “Look at the Princess,” she would exclaim, “No. It’s Audrey!” It reminded me of how honest and straight-forward young children are in daily life. It is this honesty we need to use to explain the world around them. This is important for early childhood educators to remember. We should be teaching young children using real-life, tangible materials, not abstract paper and pencil tasks. There is no comparison between counting real items, such as blocks, and counting items on a paper. It is the difference between real-life and pretend.

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18 responses

  1. Though I’m not going into early childhood education, I do plan on being a parent one day, and this is an excellent thing for me to keep in mind. Teaching children is about letting them learn through real life experiences, not trying to get them to think abstractly about things before they’re able to. It’s all about teaching the child at their level and their developmental age.(Melissa K. 5170)

  2. I think the topic of honesty is so important in young children. My cute Mom is currently battling cancer and has lost all her hair due to the chemo. When small children see her they commonly say, “You don’t have any hair!” or “Mom where is that ladies hair!” Their moms usually apologize for their child being so rude and then scold them saying, “You don’t say things like that!” But children understand so much more then we think and all my Mom has to do is say, “I am sick and the medicine I am using makes my hair fall out.” The child immediately accepts this explanation and are then fine with the fact she has no hair. No gory details just a shorter version of the truth, that is all kids need sometimes whether in everyday life or in education. (Aimee S. 5170)

  3. The balance between real-life and pretend is a fragile one. Using real items for counting is as vital as using items from the dramatic play areas. With the imagined roles and costuming a child is able to expand their current experiences in life and dabble in the future. They are using beginning abstract thought to alter their role as a child and create possibilities for themselves as adults. It is a delightful perspective shift. Bring on the blocks and don’t leave out the princess. (KimR5170)

  4. I nanny a 4 year old, Mikaela, and something similar happened to me. She was playing with a princess Ariel doll, but I guess now a days they make “baby princesses” and I said “it’s time to clean up, lets pick up Ariel” and instantly she corrected me and said “you mean BABY Ariel right?” We laughed because she is just brutally honest in her own cute way. Like I have learned in class, Piaget says that true meaning occurs from real events. Mikaela has a baby brother and she loves him,so sometimes she tries to pick him up but she is too small, after the one time I explained to her that Sam is just a baby and we have to be careful and gentle with him because he can get hurt easier than us, she stopped doing it and sometimes even says “be careful” when I pick up sam.Julissa Gonzales S.5170

  5. You know, it is so true how honest young children are. I have only met a few young children who weren’t quite so honest, and it worried me a little bit. But once I met their parents, things made a little more sense to me, which is actually very sad. Off topic a bit, I wanted to tell you something that was really cute but sad at the same time. My nephew was swimming and cut his finger on the base of the swimming pool. My sister didn’t think it was as bad as it was, until a week after the incident occurred. My nephew went up to his mom and said, (staring at his finger intently) “I tell my finger to move and it won’t!” Long story short…he had surgery today to attach the tendons back together. I just thought that the image of my nephew staring at his finger saying that was so cute and innocent.-Sarah D. 5170

  6. I agree with teaching children through honesty. I believe children grow and develop through experiences which teach them to be who ever they want to be. ALlowing children to foster their creativity through tangible experiences is one of the most important things children learn because it teaches them real life problem solving skills.Heidi S. (5170)

  7. I think it is interesting as a student in a child related field to watch how other adults interact with children. There are so many words, directions, explanations, etc. I think that adults forget that they are talking to children sometimes because they are so used to being a grown up. How important it is to communicate or interact with children in a way that they understand… in a simple way. Otherwise I think children might be confused or frustrated constantly. If only adults could learn to sometimes be as simple as child. And your grandchildren are adorable!!Bianca M. 5170

  8. It is so important for anyone who is associated with children in anyway, as a parent, teacher, caretaker, etc. to encourage them to explore any possibility (with safety precautions) that enters their imagination. Not only does it open up so many new outlets for creativity and a way to explore and understand the real world that surrounds them, but it also brings joy to life. (Tina 5170)

  9. I agree. I think that as humans, we learn so much more from hands on experiences. I have never thought about the paper/pencil verses real tangible objects in learning until now. I have taken many things from your class. However, if I forget a lot and remember only a couple of things… this is one concept that I will remember. Children learn tons from hands on experience and this is when creativity truly is fostered. I have replaced coloring books at our house with construction paper. Thanks so much for encouraging me to take risks in class. I have never really done creative projects like this before and it taught me a lot.

  10. It is important to let kids interact and learn in a “real” world as well. Blocks, bugs, talking, etc. help make the real world up, but it’s interesting to think that they like being taken seriously sometimes too, when adults usually just think they want to make believe their whole worlds! That was such a cute scenario, i can see your grand-daughter coming down the staircase-those experiences are so precious at that young age, and that we should foster their sense of identity in the world.(Lauren Keller, 5170)

  11. I agree. I think that as humans, we learn so much more from hands on experiences. I have never thought about the paper/pencil verses real tangible objects in learning until now. I have taken many things from your class. However, if I forget a lot and remember only a couple of things… this is one concept that I will remember. Children learn tons from hands on experience and this is when creativity truly is fostered. I have replaced coloring books at our house with construction paper. Thanks so much for encouraging me to take risks in class. I have never really done creative projects like this before and it taught me a lot. (Jodi S. 5170)

  12. I see with my four year old niece this situation happening all the time. She is very honest and straight forward about everything. She just had her birthday last week, and while she was opening a present from a neighbor she very directly said, “We already have this toy!” You could just see her parents tense up and try to be courteous. But we need to remember that kids this age will call it like it is, even it’s not the most polite way to respond. (MelissaM-5170)

  13. in addition to your point of teaching kids about the world with the same honesty that they see it, I couldn’t help but think how this article also emphasized how important it is for children to be validated; for them to know that you approve of them. Your grandchild seems like a spitfire…I love it! 🙂 (JaNae W. 5170)

  14. I couldn’t help but be reminded of another story of a girl in my neighborhood who asked why her sisters boyfriend wasn’t coming around anymore. Her mom told her it was because they had ‘broken up.’ This little girl then asked her mom where his parents put broken the pieces of him. Children take things so literally and taking an honest and straightforward approach to teaching them is the way to go. Using abstract ideas and projects are far beyond their capacity to understand.

  15. Because we remember 50% of what we tangibly do due to the creation of neurotransmitters in our brains as young children, the fact that we learn best this way should be no suprise. In play, however, it is interesting to see that some children can joke around and pretend that things are what they are not. I have a three year old nephew who, for the past year or so has often played jokes on us by knowingly calling us by the wrong names or pretending that something is what it isn’t. I believe that these behaviors are fine, but we need to keep separate when we pretend and play from when we are serious/honest and learn. This will help children make a definition between the real world and the imaginary.Megan H, 5170

  16. The mistake of introducing something abstract before introducing the concrete is very true! I made this error as a parent with my youngest son. In preschool, he seemed to have a great handle on numbers, could write and identify them from 1 to 20 quite well. I thought, this kid knows whats up, so I thought I would introduce some very basic addition. So I said to him, “What is 1 + 0?” and he said “10”. And I thought, what? Is he just guessing? Then I realized 1 plus a 0 is 10. That’s all he knew. I never introduced the concept of 1 item plus another item. I felt like a dork! Now I know I was one.Christine E. 5170

  17. As a new teacher what is a good way to accumulate activities to use in the classroom to foster those kind of ideas?

  18. I agree with you , If we want our children, our future to be honest members of society we should teach them to be honest by providing them with real life, hands on experiences as they grow up.

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