After spending three years as a third grade assistant teacher and, just recently, two weeks as a long term third grade substitute, I am convinced that eight year old children are definitely the upper-crust of early childhood. Just as pre-kindergarten children need help tying their shoes, eight year olds need support with the “seemingly” smaller details of living. It is important to take time to help these children practice, discuss, and learn how to be civil participants in their world. The United States public school system was founded with the intention of developing democratic citizens and thinkers, however a rule commonly heard among elementary classrooms is “be quiet and obedient.” I agree that it is important to do both those things in certain situations, but we need to help children be thinkers and not blind followers. Our world needs innovators and leaders, and when recess is being withheld from children who don’t fit the expected norm or children receive rewards for sitting still and quiet all the time innovative thought is not being kindled. Here is a great TEDTalk by Sir Ken Robinson that illustrates the importance of supporting children to be thinkers and creators: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U.
What do you do to bring innovation and creativity to children’s experience?