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Posted by on in Play at home

Imaginosity was very kindly invited to attend Early Childhood Ireland’s recent conference held in Dublin, where both interesting and important issues surrounding the theme of ‘Today’s Children: Tomorrow’s World’ were discussed.  The conference celebrated, commemorated and concentrated on early childhood.

We were very excited to listen to Dr Stuart Brown M.D as the Conference’s opening Key Note Speaker.  Dr Brown is a medical doctor, psychiatrist and clinical researcher, who is a major proponent of the importance of play. He founded The National Institute for Play in the U.S  http://www.nifplay.org/about_us.html ,a non-profit  organisation committed to bringing unrealised knowledge, practices and benefits of play into public life through continuing research.

Irene Gunning, Early Childhood Ireland’s CEO (herself a well-known, well-respected, long-time proponent of the importance of play for children), introduced Dr Brown by saying that from the moment she first heard him speak she was mesmerised. By the end of Dr Brown’s talk I understood exactly what she meant! He was engaging, funny, thoroughly informative and bursting with enthusiasm and passion for play.

Dr Brown spoke of how what it takes to be wholly human is so centred in early childhood and how the willingness, desire and motivation to play is embedded in each of us, from the moment that we are born.  He described play as a ‘marvellous phenomenon’ and cautioned that it is not just for kids, but lasts a lifetime.

He described the types of play that humans experience and can remember so well from our own childhoods and that we can now see replicated in our own children or young family members. Dr Brown has spent some time working with National Geographic through print and television programming, and he used a wealth of fantastic, exhilarating photographs in his presentation, which wonderfully described the various types or states of play.  From wolves to polar bears, whales to apes it was easy to see the parallels between what goes on for humans and what happens in nature, where play is concerned.

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Posted by on in Education

October was all about ‘Amazing Maths’ at Imaginosity and, as the Education Development Manager, I for one couldn’t wait to get started. However, the programming for the month was not easy. When we decided to take part in Maths Week the first challenge to overcome was how to make maths fun and engaging for children under 9. As champions of the play to learn method favoured by many early educationalists and theorists such as Piaget and Vygotsky the challenge to incorporate maths was probably heightened by my own "Maths Phobia". I had all the classic symptoms in school, the palm sweating fear of getting called up to the front of class to recite my times tables, the head scratching awfulness of trying to solve quadratic equations, the blank expression when questioned on the sin, cos and tan of right angled triangles. How could I translate the maths I learnt in school to activities and workshops suitable for young children and avoid instilling in them “Maths phobia”? The answer I found that worked lay in getting to the heart of what maths really is and especially what maths skills enable us to do in the real world.

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