Friday, December 17, 2010

When I Think of Child Development …

I think of play.

I finished the title sentence because I truly believe that play is such an important piece to child development.

As I searched books and websites for quotes that really spoke about my feeling about childhood development and play, I came across the one’s listed below. It was hard for me to choose because they were all said what I have always spoken of play. I had to stop myself because I could have gone on listing the quotes. I hope they are as meaningful to as you as they are for me.

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning… They have to play with what they know to be true in order to find out more, and then they can use what they learn in new forms of play.
- Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood

It has become increasingly clear through research on the brain as well as in other area of study, that childhood needs play. Play acts as a forward feed mechanism into courageous, creative, and rigorous thinking in adulthood.
- Tina Bruce, professor, London Metropolitan University

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.
- Roger von Oech, President, Creative Think

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a in a year of conversation.
- Plato, Greek Philosopher

Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for I alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.
- Friedrich Froebel, Father of modern Kindergarten

Today’s children are controlled by the expectations, schedules, whims, and rules of adults. Play is the only time they can take control of the world.
- Sheila G. Flaxman

I would like to say thank you to all my colleagues for giving great feedback and for sharing your experiences with me. I hope to collaborate with you in future courses.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Testing for Intelligence?

Considering a commitment to viewing young children holistically (i.e., a commitment to “the whole child”), what, if anything, do you believe should be measured or assessed? Explain your reasoning.

There should not be a standard assessment for young children. These types of test only measure whether or not a child has the ability to perform well on tests. It is, quite frankly, stressful on students, a stress that is not necessary. And ince evry child does not test well, how are we fairly assessing what a child does and does not know. I may be an exceptional student and test poorly, or an average student, but test extremely well.

Young children, as we have learned, should be given the opportunity to explore their environment. The current assessments take away a child’s natural tendency toward learning and education, as well as a teacher’s ability to challenge her student’s with new information.

The word educate has its roots in Latin (meaning to bring out or bring forth). I found the best definition comes from Webster when it states to educate is,” to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically, especially through instruction.

I have also found quotes from Socrates which validates my reasons for eliminating the process of standardized assessments:

"Educating the mind without the heart is no education at all.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.”

“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

In what ways are school-age children assessed in other parts of the world? (Choose a country or region of the world for which you have a personal affinity.)

I was surfing the internet to find a concrete way in which children in other countries are assessed and found some interesting facts about Finland. There was mention of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This assessment was given to children in various nations, and Finland was found to have a smaller amount of disparities in high and low rankings and the U.S. had one of the highest. Here is an example of the educational structure in Finland:

The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).

Students have light homework loads.

Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.

Finland uses very little standardized testing.

Children do not start school until age 7

Finland has a comprehensive preschool program that emphasizes "self-
reflection" and socializing, not academics.

Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.

Teachers must have master's degrees.

Becoming a teacher in Finland is highly competitive. Just 10% of Finnish college graduates are accepted into the teacher training program; as a result, teaching is a high-status profession. (Teacher salaries are similar to teacher salaries in the U.S., however.)

Students are separated into academic and vocational tracks during the last three years of high school. About 50% go into each track.

Diagnostic testing of students is used early and frequently. If a student is in need of extra help, intensive intervention is provided.

Groups of teachers visit each others' classes to observe their colleagues at work. Teachers also get one afternoon per week for professional development.

School funding is higher for the middle school years, the years when children are most in danger of dropping out.

College is free in Finland. (Wilde)


Wilde, Marian. "Global Grade: How do U.S. Students Compare?" 1998-2010. Great Schools. 10 December 2010 .

What additional ideas, comments, suggestions, examples, and/or concerns related to assessing young children would you like to share with your colleagues?

We have encountered a very serious issue in our educational system. Teachers are teaching for tests sake, not for the sake of a well developed individual. By “test-teaching’, children are no longer being encouraged to look within to discover all the possibilities knowledge can offer , they are being forced to regurgitate concepts developed to bring revenue to a school district. Children are not machines that require programming and updated, they are whole human beings equipped with the power of reasoning and problem solving. I don’t believe it is the fault of the teachers. New laws have taken teacher’s authority and creativity out of the classroom.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Consequences of Stress on Children’s Development

Choose one stressor that you, or someone you know, experienced as a child. Share how you, or that person, coped with and/or compensated for that stressor (including any resources used or any support obtained).

As a young child, I have fond memories of my mother, older brother, and I going out on the weekends together because she worked all week. She was, ironically enough, the director of a youth center. On occasion, my brother and I would go with her to her job and play with the other children, but for the most part we were cared for by our neighbor until she finished work. My mother worked hard to provide for us and kept a roof over our head. But sometimes food and electricity was not an option.
I chose to speak about my experience with poverty because this social issue touches many American families every second of the day. Not until I was in my late teens did I realized we were poor earlier in life. There were times where peaches and was a meal or, thankfully, our neighbors home was a place for us to eat. Looking in our window, it would not have appeared to many that we were poor, but we had some rough times. And through it all, my mother worked and prayed, and accepted donations from family and community resources(food pantries,etc) when they were offered. My mother has never been a selfish woman, which is why, looking back even at that age, I knew we would be alright. Fortunately, it did not have a long term negative effect on me. It did however, make me appreciate and empathize with people I see who are homeless and without food.

Choose a region or country in the world that you would like to know more about and/or for which you have a special affinity. Find out, and describe, the kind of stressor(s) that impact the development of children in that region/country and what is being done to minimize the harm.

I am choosing Louisiana as a topic of discussion for poverty because; we don’t have to go out of the country to see the tremendous effects poverty has on a community. Right here in our own front yard, forget about our backyard, there is a serious issue that must be addressed with urgency. Even before Hurricane Katrina stuck this part of our nation, there were very real issues of poverty. It was only through the devastation of Katrina that the world over saw the ugly face of poverty and economic disparity at its worst.
When you think about stressors that impact children living in poverty it are not hard to identify three immediately; hunger, poor living conditions, and poor educational conditions. I was searching the internet and school library and found a few articles, but the one that gave the most insight to the issue of poverty came from a 2005 census bureau report that stated,
“…The highest percentages of children in this age group [under the age of 5] living in poverty were found in Louisiana, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia…”
There are different organizations, including the Children’s Defense Fund, who are trying desperately to eliminate poverty and the effects in lower income communities by providing funds and resources for families and communities to improve themselves not just as individuals, but as a whole community and nation. Others include, but are not limited to; Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Charities'.

Breaden, M. (2008). CHILD POVERTY. Education Week, 27(20), 5. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Child Development and Public Health

Choose one public health topic from the list above (or one that you think should be added to the list).
Describe in what ways this topic is meaningful to you.
Access to adequate healthcare and healthcare insurance:
It is important to include adequate healthcare and healthcare insurance because without access to this aspect of the public health sector, many of the topics listed (Nutrition/malnutrition, Immunization, breastfeeding, etc), would not, and in some instances, are not available to the poor people in society. With the funding cuts in healthcare over the years, it has been, along with education, the string politicians have used to draw constituents to the polls to vote. With an overwhelming concern for the state of healthcare for the very young and the very old, this issue must be addressed with urgency. Without adequate healthcare, children have died from infected teeth due to lack of dental care as well as illnesses that could have been treated given the proper medical attention.
Find information about this topic from a different part of the world, and include this information in your Blog.
According to, “Costa Rica has universal health care, one of the best health systems in Latin America. As always with nationalized health care, expect red tape and long waits, but the quality of Costa Rica’s health care is excellent” (International Living, 2009-2010). I chose this country because my daughter will be visiting Costa Rica soon and I have been researching the country and its healthcare. She has asthma and I want to make sure that they will be able to provide quality healthcare in the event of any emergency.
Share ways the information you have learned may impact your future work.
I read a book entitled, “Lantern: Memoirs of Mentors”, by the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Marian Wright Edelman. CDF is a national advocacy project dedicated to improving childhood development by improving conditions in education, healthcare, and other aspects of human life. One of my favorite quotes of Marian Wright Edelman is,” if we don’t stand for children, then we don’t stand for much.” She and many other child advocates continue to make my experiences in this course exciting and inspirational.
I intend to provide workshops and seminars for the parents in my center on the importance of healthy living, which includes healthcare insurance. Some parents are not aware of the just how accessible healthcare insurance is for women and children. I want to be a part of an organization that advocates for family healthcare. It is shameful that in our society, in some cases, women have to declare that they are single or separated in order to receive long standing healthcare without being pregnant. And just because a family has a two income home, does not mean that they can afford the insurance offered by their employer or even the independent insurance policies.
Edelman, M. W. (2000). Lanterns; A Memoir of Mentors. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
International Living. (2009-2010). Health Care in Costa Rica: Costa Rica offers good-quality healthcare. Retrieved November 9, 2010, from International Living:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Childbirth Experience

Write about a personal birthing experience. It can be your own birth, your child’s birth, or one you took part in. What do you remember about the event? Why did you choose this example? What are your thoughts regarding birth and its impact on child development?
When I was seven years old I witnessed a home birth. A young couple, newly married, moved into the lower level of our home. She soon became pregnant and I had the opportunity to watch her transform into a place providing safety, sustenance, and warmth for a little person growing inside.

During the months that followed, I was amazed by how her belly grew larger and watched it move as the baby would move. As a child, I also wondered how the baby stayed in her belly without air (the things children think of).
When the time finally arrived for the birth, the midwife came to our home and my mother woke me because I asked if I could watch. When I walked in, the lights were dim and there were very soft recordings playing in the room and everyone, including the mother, was praying. She was as quiet as could be, all the while making faces that should have rendered some sort of moan or loud screams of pain, but she did neither. It seemed like ages to me (she actually labored for two days unbeknown to me), but when the time was near, she jumped to her feet and the women in the room held her as she proceeded to squat and push. She pushed until a huge mass of something (at the time I didn’t know it was a baby), came rushing from her body.
In astonishment, I took a big gasp of air in and watched as they quickly cleared the baby’s airway, laid the mother down, and she began to nurse the baby. The room was still very quiet, but, you could feel the exhilaration and joy in the room as everyone smiled and looked on. Then a big something else (I had no clue it was the afterbirth at that time), came out and that’s when I was told to leave the room. For the rest of the night, I lay thinking about what I had just witnessed, listening to the sounds of the beautiful baby boy crying, water running, and people speaking softly as they were leaving to go to their homes.
Today that beautiful little boy is loving and attentive husband and father of three, finishing his last term as a resident pediatric cardiologist (he chose pediatric cardiology because his younger brother died of a heart defect at a young age.)

I chose this experience as opposed to one of birth experiences, because it was very unique to have experienced such an event, especially given my age at the time. In addition to my mother, this experience was the reason I chose to work with children. When I was younger, I wanted to be a midwife, but was not able to bring my dream to fruition, but working with children, is another way for me to help children.

I think birth is one of life’s most amazing events, because a woman is able to labor and bring a new life into the world. The birthing experience has a relationship to child development because there are physical, mental, social, and developmental, implications for everyone involved. If complications arise, for example, the family must now deal with the possibility of, having to have short and/or long term rehabilitation (physical) for the child and later on in life, the child and family either positively or negatively learning how to deal lives with his/her disability (psychosocial).
Choose a region of the world or a country, other than the U.S., and find out how births happen there. Write about what you learned, and the differences and similarities with your experience (in the personal example you provided).

In recent years, with the advancements in science in many parts of the world, one will find that birthing practices are becoming similar to western forms of childbirth. But for families in the United States, citizens and immigrants, as well as other countries that choose to continue traditions and in rural parts of these countries, traditional birth practices remain an integral part of their culture.
In Japan for instance, food is an important part of the birthing process. According to an article from Hawaii Community College, “foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates such as mochi and eggs are sometimes offered and encouraged at the onset of labor to ensure adequate energy throughout the laboring process”. It is important to remain silent in the face of pain as this is seen as the proper way to for the women deal with the pain. The father, or any other male except a male doctor, is not traditionally present during the birthing process. Women traditionally are in the room with and support the laboring mother.
The similarities in the experiences of both women were that women were present to assist with the labor and both were progressing quietly through their labor.
There were two major differences in the delivery I witnessed and the experience I researched. In the case of the Japanese mother, she was expected to be stoic or “deal with the pain appropriately” according to tradition, while the mother I observed was silent because it was hers and her midwife’s belief that to yell out in pain caused the labor to require more energy than necessary. The other difference was that in the Japanese labor, the husband was not present, where in the labor I witnessed, the husband was present.

What additional insights, if any, about the impact of the birthing experience on development, did you gain from this comparison?

Final insights that I observed was that one can observe gender roles in the birthing practices of any given culture. Where one culture may see it is solely the responsibility of the women to handle the birth or where fathers can be active participants, often gives insight to the parts that each person plays in the household. It is also another example of just how similar we are as a human family and why prejudice has not place in our world.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Examining Codes of Ethics

In this week’s blog I intend to discuss three ideals contained in the codes of ethics for both NAEYC and DEC and why I was drawn to these statements. It has truly been a an interesting eight weeks and I am a little nervous to see what the ECS’s program has is store.
Before I present my choices I have to say that it was a very difficult decision to because all the ideals and principles are significant to my professional career. I have chosen to combine the ideals and answer them simultaneously. It is also very important to note that the focus of my answers to this blog will be on my mother’s educational facility. As stated in previous blogs and assignments, she is the reason for my career decision and my survival in early childhood education to date. She is my advisor and a willing participant in this process.
I hope you can appreciate my thoughts on the following ideals:
Section I- Ideal 1.1
“To be familiar with the knowledge base of early childhood care and education and to stay informed through continuing education and training.”
DEC ( Ethical Practice in Research)
“We shall conduct on-going research and field work that is consistent with and builds upon the available cadre of evidence based practices.”
My mother is currently taking her staff through NAEYC training and whenever possible, I visit and participate. The whole idea of training and re-training is to stay informed and also to learn about the advances your field of expertise. We have discussed staying informed on several occasions during our tenure in this course and it really cannot be stressed enough. There is a verse in a song that says, “Man that knows something knows that he knows nothing at all.” This is not to say that knowledgeable people are ignorant; it is the opposite. An individual who is seeking truth and knowledge knows that you will never know everything, which is why he/she understands that knowledge is a lifelong path worthy of travel.
Section II- Ideal 2.3
“To welcome all family members and encourage them to participate in the program.”

DEC (Responsive Family Centered Practices)
“We shall respect, value, promote, and encourage the active participation of ALL families by engaging families in meaningful ways in the assessment and intervention processes.”
My mother offers parent workshops to her families and has established mandatory volunteer time. At first, many families were not receptive to the idea of having to volunteer and felt that they should not be ‘forced’ to volunteer. Although mandatory volunteer time sounds like an oxymoron, it is a key piece in child development that should not be forgotten. When the families realized that it helped the child/children acclimate to the learning environment they quickly became fixtures in the school. This is an element that I will incorporate in my learning center because volunteer time promotes bonding and plays a key role in the productivity of the school.

Section II- Ideal 2.5
“To respect the dignity and preferences of each family and to make an effort to learn about its structure, culture, language, customs, and beliefs.”

DEC (Responsive Family Centered practices)
“We shall demonstrate our respect and appreciation for all families’ beliefs, values, customs, languages, and culture relative to their nurturance and support their children toward achieving meaningful and relevant priorities and outcomes families’ desire for themselves and their children.”
My mother’s facilities as well as my daughter’s school annually hold an event called “international Night”. This is a night where everyone brings in a dish particular to their culture or traditions for the school community to share and families even wear their traditional clothes and tradition music can be heard throughout the school. This event is very successful because it unites the school community and allows everyone to feel comfortable with and share facts about their country and/or customs.

NAEYC. (2005). Codes of ethical conduct and statement of commitment. Retrieved May 26,2010, from
The Division for Early Childhood. (2000, August). Codes of ethics. Retrieved May 26, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Collection of Resources

This has been a very interesting week. We have learned so much and gathered a large amount of useful information. Below I will list the resources found in our studies as well as three additional resources I found were insightful, motivating, and relevant to the course:

• NAEYC. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• NAEYC. (2009). Where we stand on child abuse prevention. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• NAEYC. (2009). Where we stand on school readiness. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• NAEYC. (2009). Where we stand on responding to linguistic and cultural diversity. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• NAEYC. (2003). Early childhood curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation: Building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• NAEYC. (2009, April). Early childhood inclusion: A summary. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. (2010). Infant-toddler policy agenda. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• FPG Child Development Institute. (2006, September). Evidence-based practice empowers early childhood professionals and families. (FPG Snapshot, No. 33). Retrieved May 26, 2010, from

• Turnbull, A., Zuna, N., Hong, J. Y., Hu, X., Kyzar, K., Obremski, S., et al. (2010). Knowledge-to-action guides. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(3), 42–53.
UNICEF (n.d.). Fact sheet: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from
• World Forum Foundation

• World Organization for Early Childhood Education
• Association for Childhood Education International
• National Association for the Education of Young Children
• The Division for Early Childhood
• Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families
• Harvard Education Letter
• FPG Child Development Institute
• Administration for Children and Families Headstart’s National Research Conference
• HighScope
• Children’s Defense Fund
• Center for Child Care Workforce
• Council for Exceptional Children
• Institute for Women’s Policy Research
• National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education
• National Child Care Association
• National Institute for Early Education Research
• Pre[K]Now
• Voices for America’s Children
• The Erikson Institute

Walden University. (2010). Course Resources. Retrieved October 11, 2010 from,

Additional Resources
Edelman, M. W. (2000). Lanter: A Memoir of Mentors. Massechuetts : Harper-Collins.
- I specifically chose this book because it is glimpse into the life of Marian Wright Edelman. She founded the Children's Defense Fund and is a champion in advocating for the rights of children. In this book, she also discusses the mentors who inspired her to be the best and except nothing less.

Family Circle. (2010, October). Retrieved October 11, 2010, from Family Circle:
- I specifically chose this website because for years Family circle has been a resources for families to come together in fun and motivating ways

Scholastic Early Childhood Today. (2010, October). Retrieved October 11, 2010, from Scholastic Early Childhood Today:
- I specifically chose this website because it is a great resource for ideas and resources for parents, teachers, and children.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Words of Inspiration and Motivation

Marian Wright Edelman: 
"If we don't stand for children, then we don't stand for much."
"You're not obligated to win. You're obligated to keep trying to do the best you can do everyday."

Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard:
"If we consider human intelligence at the period of earliest childhood man does not yet appear to rise about the level of the other animals."

The Passion for Early Childhood
Louise Derman-Sparks:
" I had a built in passion that it was important to make a real contribution to the world and to fix all the injustices that existed in the world. And I wanted to do that through teaching."

Renatta M. Cooper:
" What keeps me engaged is we're not there yet with any of them [ policies and rights for mothers and children]. We've got a long way to go with all of them and I think that until we achieve some of these goals I'll keep doing it."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Personal childhood web

The people who helped shape me (Kali):

My mother- I watched her struggle to get to where she is now. She is beautiful, confident, brilliant and dedicated to the children in her educational facility.

My Aunt Dorothy- is a sassy, jazzy, intelligent women that made me believe that I was a women "without borders!' That I could be and do everything positive.
Amina- is a beautiful, vibrant and intelligent women that treated me like a baby sister. She was my mentor and held my hand through a lot of rough events in my life.

Sonia Sanchez-is a beautiful and marvelous writer, activist, and scholar who inspires me to write. I started going to her speaking engagements when I was about twelve. My mother's friend took us every for the next three or four years afterward.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The title of a children's book I love and what I love about it

The title of the book for which I love is Sariyah's Birthday Surprise. I love this book because because it is the first book that I wrote. It is a story about my oldest daughter, Sariyah, and how she was faced with the dilemma of telling the truth about getting into trouble or keeping it a secret from her mom. I love writing stories about my children. There is something about seeing my girls' faces fill with excitement when they hear their name in a story.

A story about a child that touched my heart

The story I wish to share is one of triumph and testimony. My brother and his wife were expecting my nephew in November of 2007.  I would call to check on them frequently and they informed me that she was having complications and didn't think that the baby would make it. I kept reassuring them that whatever was to be will be and not to put emphasis on the uncertain; although I too was nervous for the safety of the baby and my sister-in-law.
As weeks progressed, she was admitted into the hospital and had to basically lay upside. She was in and out of labor until one day, I got a call saying that my nephew was born. He was due in November, but was born July 31, 2007.  Keagan Michael Merritt was born!

My brother sent out an all points email explaining his birth. When they cleared his airway, he cried, which the doctors said was amazing. They had to administer an adrenaline shot, which the doctor told them would only be given once. But she felt "something" told her to administer another. And on the second injection, he began to breath again; and on his own.
It was and is a long battle, three years later. He is learning how to walk and talk, but his cognitive skills are exceptional according to all the specialists. He is a true blessing to our family and he inspires me everyday to be a better person.
I hope that by shortening the story I didn't take anything away from my beautiful nephews story. He is my angel and I am so proud to be his Aunty.

Quote by Dr. Hain Ginott

"Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression."

I chose this quote because Parents, caregivers, and educators must be careful about the things we expose our children to. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

I did it!

Greetings to all,

It is with great pleasure that I can say, with the help of a very dear friend, I finally accomplished the task of setting up my blog! It was one of the most challenging things I have had to do and I am now even more nervous than ever to embark on the online educational experience. In addition to being nervous, I am very excited to meet and work with all of my colleagues. I hope that we all find success in this endeavor and if I can be of any assistance(not computer assistance, though) Please feel free to ask.

Have a great first week!

Kali Merritt