Saturday, 21 December 2013

When I think of child development…

"Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace which is right for each individual child"
 - Unknown
“  "If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn"
-    - Ignacio Estrada

I really liked these two quotes because I see a correlation between the two of them. I have discussed the importance of differentiated instruction several times throughout the duration of this course. I truly believe that a system involving standardized testing benefits no one. The quote above explains the pressure put upon children and families to perform a set of tasks rather than demonstrate real learning. Children learn when they enjoy what they are doing, that is why play-based learning driven by student questions, wonderings and motivation often takes learning to a place that wasn't even imaginable. When students are pressured into performing when they are not yet ready they often feel resentment, stress and a dislike for school. We want our students to love learning and to feel empowered when they surpass challenges and find success. The second quote made me think about the many teachers who are stuck in their ways and find it difficult to change their teaching style to meet the needs of all of the children in their lives. It is our job as educator’s to find strategies to motivate and reach our students, it is not their responsibility to bend to our teaching style. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

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.
I honestly found this question really hard to answer. To begin, I know that I do not believe in standardized testing for many reasons. First, I believe that one method of assessment is not a true testament of a child’s abilities. I was always very fortunate in that I perform very well on examinations. My younger sister is probably brighter than me and in high school was always more driven and motivated however, she for one reason or another cannot perform well on exams. Her marks would be stellar all year and then would plummet after writing a final examination. How fair is that? She always did well in school so this didn’t affect her very much but for others it could have a huge impact. As a teacher I am always looking for ways to make my students successful. I get to know my group of learners and then plan activities and lessons accordingly. Assessments are also done this way. My students get ample opportunities to show what they know and what they can do in ways that suit their needs and their learning style. So now if I teach grade 3 and this is the way my students have worked and found success the entire year, now they all have to sit down and show what they know in a rote paper pencil examination? How backwards is this? Students should be seen holistically and in order for this to occur they need to be able to express themselves and what they know in many different ways. In as many ways as it takes so that all can be successful. When I work with others on a task I am thankful that my co-workers all have different skills and talents to offer up. My weaknesses are often times someone else’s strengths and vice versa. I believe that as teacher’s it is our job to help our children learn and to make learning fun and enjoyable so that they are eager and engaged to continue bettering themselves. I have seen with my own eyes the pride they have in their achievements when someone is genuinely rooting them on. They want to impress and please someone they know truly cares about their success. Therefore, I believe it is important to measure how far a student has grown. To take where they are at, celebrate successes and give encouraging next steps. In a perfect world this is what the educational system should be based on- success for all!
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.)
This week I looked at Japan and the way in which school aged children are assessed in school. The first thing I noted is that in Japan students have standardized testing in Literacy, Numeracy and also in Science. This differs from the Ontario system in that only Literacy and Numeracy are tested in our system. The second difference is that testing is the bulk of education when students reach junior high level at 12 years of age. An article from Japan Today states that: “Unfortunately, this all ends at age 12. Those are the years that exam hell starts and from which students never really recover. The standardized test-based education system of Japan that starts in the junior high school years kills any kind of initiative, creativity and especially thinking outside of the box” (Moderator, 2010). The article explains that it is not only the students of Japan that have a difficult time with this educational system.  It states that the teachers are too. “Many have to take time off work due to stress, while others create a life of drudgery for their pupils. Many Japanese seem to have lost their love for education and learning once they enroll in junior high school” (Moderator, 2010). The Japanese are often deemed as pioneers and even masters when it comes to education. It was really an eye opener to read an article that depicts their system as full of faults and archaic.

What additional ideas, comments, suggestions, examples, and/or concerns related to assessing young children would you like to share with your colleagues?
In Ontario Canada, our students face provincial testing in both literacy and numeracy in Grades 3, 6, and 9. This testing is completed by paper and pencil examinations where only students who have individualized education plans indicating a need for assistive technology can use alternative methods to complete the exams. This infuriates me because students who do not learn in such a way are unsuccessful. We talk about differentiated instruction all year round as teachers. We give our students multi-modal learning tasks and then all of a sudden the students are all given one form of assessment and are expected to succeed. We have established years ago that students learn in different ways, our Ministry of Education funds and mandates teaching to multiple intelligences and then our government makes us assess everyone in a rote, one answer, black and white, archaic testing method. Furthermore, teachers and school boards have begun to “teach to the test” meaning that they now know a formula of what types of questions are asked and they spend all year beating it into their students’ heads. How wrong is this? Is this truly an indication of what our children can do or is just skewed data and a very backwards system?

Moderator, June 16, 2010. Japan and its standardized test-based education system. Japan Today. Retrieved from;

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Consequences of Stress on Children's Development

The stressor that I am going to discuss this week is violence. In particular, I am going to discuss sexual abuse, as I have seen the destruction, damage and suffering sexual abuse can have on a child. I once taught a little girl who came from a First Nations Reserve close to my home town. When she was found and taken from her home she was badly beaten, starved, unable to speak any language and was sexually mutilated. Her family members passed her around and used her little innocent body for their pleasure. When I first met her she was violent, unruly, untrusting and terrified. She knew nothing of “our world” because she hadn’t been exposed to anything in her 5 years of living. I couldn’t and still can’t imagine the hell that this little girl had been exposed to and endured in her short years. When she first came to our school we worked closely with the special education team and a local psychiatrist to give her the support and help that she needed. We also had discussions with the other students to prepare them for our new student and gently explained some of her difficulties. It wasn’t long before she was also diagnosed with FAS and began taking medication to help her control her emotions. Her new foster family also worked very closely with the school community to assist us and because they were also in need of support. These two parents are truly saints. It takes very special and loving people to take in a child in need of as much support as this little girl. Towards the end of the year she began to settle in and was beginning to use language in simple sentences. She still needs support and will likely need support for the rest of her life because of the trauma and neglect she had faced.

It truly disgusts me that people would treat and abuse such young and innocent children in such a way. This little girl is at least fortunate that she lives in a country where child sexual abuse is considered an outrage. Many others are not so lucky. Four years ago I attended a conference in which the key note speaker was Dr. Samantha Nutt, the founder of War Child Canada. She talked about rape with extreme violence in areas of the Congo at war because of the mining extraction of coltan. Coltan is a conflict mineral used in many of our technological devices and is mined unethically for luxuries we use everyday. Dr. Nutt pleaded her audience to make responsible decisions when purchasing electronics and ensuring that we are recycling because people are dying and our choices make a difference. Some people change their cell phone each time the new Iphone model comes out. Coltan is essentially the new “blood diamond” and very few people are even aware of it or what it is. The most troubling thing for me is that I was ignorant to coltan and what my electronics were doing to the Congolese people. Boys as young as ten are taken from their families and forced to work in the mines or as soldiers to fight in the civil war. As part of the initiative these young boys need to rape young girls. Dr. Nutt discussed a young girl she met while visiting the Congo, she was brutally abused several times by many different boys and the soles of her feet were cut off to keep her from trying to run away. The rape and abuse of young girls and women in general happens everyday in the Congo. “Congo has been called "the rape capital of the world. One study estimates that nearly 2 million Congolese women have been raped” (Sauer, 2013). There has been an ongoing civil war in the Congo which has caused millions of deaths and instability in the country. In a country where women are already considered second class and children are used for soldiers and tokens of war rape and sexual abuse is reported but rarely dealt with. I believe the best hope the Congolese people have is from organizations like War Child spreading awareness and helping the children who have survived the war. 

Sauer, Maddy, 2013. 'When we rape we feel free': Congo soldiers' shocking stories Retrieved from:

War Child. Retrieved from:

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Child Development and Public Health

Over the past few years the subject of mental health has definitely become more prevalent in the media, news and in general conversation. Due to the recent pattern of horrific media violence and public shootings the discussion surrounding mental health awareness has skyrocketed. Recently the media has showcased numerous commercials for help and support as well as many films featuring the “hero” struggling and conquering his or her mental health issues. All I can say is-it’s about time!

This public health topic speaks to me because one of my closest friends suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter. Before realizing she was in fact a victim of depression she tried bottling up her emotions because she was embarrassed and “felt like a failure”. She said that she had a hard time connecting with her daughter and therefore felt like a terrible mother and a terrible person. To make matters worse her older sister had been trying to conceive for years without any success and had begun seeing a fertility specialist when her younger sister became pregnant. You can imagine how awful my friend felt. She just gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl and her older sister was still trying to conceive. Pair this with her feelings of unhappiness towards her situation and towards this beautiful baby girl and you could just imagine the emotional turmoil she was facing. She battled with postpartum silently for nearly three months when finally her husband spoke up about how she just seemed “off”. My friend didn’t think it was postpartum depression because she wasn’t crying all the time and she was “functioning” in her day to day life. We are so lucky that we have access to publicly funded support programs for mental health. In fact we are lucky that there is a National awareness about postpartum depression so that my friend could get the help she needed for her and her family.

While researching this topic I discovered that most countries in North America and Europe offer publicly funded support programs for mental health. In places like Ghana, however, there are significant challenges to providing adequate mental health care for new moms. These issues include a lack of trained staff, funding barriers, lack of affordable medications, and social stigma."Postpartum depression is well known in the United States, and we recognize that pregnancy and the postpartum period are vulnerable times for maternal mental health," says Gold. "But in low income nations, many people view symptoms of depression as spiritual or personal issues rather than a psychiatric condition which could be treated" (Science Daily, 2013).
I commend women like Brooke Shields for sharing their experiences with the world.

I think that it is crucial that we spread awareness about mental disorders and the support that is available to parents, children and families. More and more we are hearing about cases where mental illness affects and takes the lives of its victims needlessly. Until recently there has been a stigma about mental illness even in Canada and the United States. It has been linked with shame and embarrassment and a stereotype that someone is “crazy” or “unstable” if they need support. We need to be advocates for the children and families in our care to speak out against these misconceptions so that people get the care they need and deserve.


Science Daily, (January 8, 2013). Postpartum Depression Prevalent in Under-Developed
Countries, Could Impact Baby Health and Mortality. Retrieved from

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Birthing Experiences

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?

The only birthing experience I can discuss is mine because I do not yet have children of my own and I have never taken part in another birth. I asked my mother what it was like to have me and of course she responded by saying “painful”. I was my mother’s first of three children. She told me that I was almost two weeks past my due date and the doctors were discussing inducing only days before I finally decided to grace everyone with my presence. My mom said that she was nervous and excited for my arrival but my father was even more nervous than she! My mom is a nurse, read all of the labor and delivery books and went to birthing class to prepare for my birth. She said that nothing can really prepare you for what you will experience physically and emotionally during labor. She said that a lot of it is a blur and yet a lot of it is crystal clear. She also explained that it was amazing how much her body knew that she wasn't even aware of. My mom had me naturally and didn't take any drugs or medication for the pain. I believe that there are many ways that birth can impact child development. A mother experiencing postpartum depression can definitely impact the bond and attachment between mother and baby and therefore affect child development. I also believe that malnutrition, proper or improper prenatal care, drugs and medication, support system (spouse or partner) or traumatic birthing experiences can all impact child development.
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). What additional insights, if any, about the impact of the birthing experience on development, did you gain from this comparison?

In order to research this question I searched the internet and found that the website had an amazing article “Birth Customs Around the World” to help me answer the given questions. The article states: “Childbirth is an event that, despite its extraordinary nature, occurs daily throughout the world. But the circumstances under which this miracle occurs vary dramatically, even in places that don't seem that dramatically different” (Schalken, 2013).In reading from the website I learned that most European countries use a midwife to deliver the baby at home rather than a doctor in a hospital. I even read that in the Netherlands they have special ambulances called “storks” that rush mother and baby to the hospital in case of emergency. Another interesting feature in a home birth in the Netherlands and many other parts of Europe is the use of a doula. A doula is a trained female who offers emotional and physical comfort during and after birth. The clear difference between my birthing experience and this one is that I was born in a hospital supervised by a doctor. In the United States and Canada, home births do occur, however, they are not the norm. Many people fear that home births performed by midwives are unsafe even though they are the standard in most places around the world. This task made me think of many impacts that a birthing experience could have on development. For example, in the case of a home birth, development could definitely be compromised if a new baby needed to be rushed to hospital. Also, there could be developmental complications to a baby’s spinal column or neck if a baby has been pushed out on a weird angle. I have also heard of complications in development because of the use of forceps.


Schalken. L (2013). Birth Customs Around the World. Retrieved from               the-world

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Thank you!

I just wanted to send out a quick thanks to each and every one of my classmates for their insight, words of wisdom, reflections, ideas and support over the last 8 weeks. Good luck to you all and thank you so much! 

Most great learning happens in groups. Collaboration is the stuff of growth.
-Sir Ken Robinson Ph. D.
Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
-Helen Keller
No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.
-Althea Gibson
 We may have all come on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. 
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. 
-Margaret Meade

School Clip Art

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Examining Codes of Ethics

I-1.1—To be familiar with the knowledge base of early childhood care and education and to stay informed through continuing education and training.

After this week’s readings and media resource I reflected a great deal about the importance of staying informed in order to be an advocate within the early childhood field. It is crucial to stay current so that the needs of the children in our care are met. If we become stagnant in our positions it is the children and their families in our care who suffer.

I-1.5—To create and maintain safe and healthy settings that foster children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development and that respect their dignity and their contributions.
To me, this ideal is the very reason I am an early childhood educator. I realize the responsibility that is entrusted to me and strive to maintain a safe and healthy environment where my students feel safe and happy. I make every effort to foster the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of each of my student’s. I respect their individuality, interests and ensure that they feel valued and cared for.

I-1.8—To support the right of each child to play and learn in an inclusive environment that meets the needs of children with and without disabilities.

I ensure that all of my students are included in classroom activities and learning opportunities. I differentiate my instruction so that all learning styles are catered to and I ensure that my students have the equipment, resources and support that they need in order to be successful. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Early Childhood Resources

Hello Everyone! Here are some great resources provided to me by Walden University. I have also added some of my own to the list and will continue to add more... Hope they help! 

§          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.
§          Article: UNICEF (n.d.). Fact sheet: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from

§         Websites:
§         World Forum Foundation
This link connects you to the mission statement of this organization. Make sure to watch the media segment on this webpage

§        World Organization for Early Childhood Education
Read about OMEP’s mission.

§         Association for Childhood Education International
Click on “Mission/Vision” and “Guiding Principles and Beliefs” and read these statements.

§         Selected Early Childhood Organizations
§           National Association for the Education of Young Children

§           The Division for Early Childhood

§           Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

§          WESTED

§            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  now-328067

§             Voices for America’s Children

§             The Erikson Institute

     Here are some resources that I found interesting:
        Early Childhood News (2008). The Professional Resource for Teachers and Parents.   Excelligence Learning Corporation, All Rights Reserved.

  University of Toronto, Fraser Mustard Institute of Human Development. Retrieved from

 Young Minds: The Voice of Young People’s mental health and well being. Young Minds in    Schools- Supporting the Emotional Well Being of Children and Young People in Schools.    Retrieved from  achment

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sectors of the Early Childhood Field

“So I have a built-in empathy for poor children, as well as a deep belief, based on my own life, that just because you're poor that doesn't mean you're inadequate”.
Edward Zigler

“They are our partners in this learning enterprise, and we have a special responsibility to use this knowledge not to fill up journals, but to make the lives of these children better”.
Edward Zigler

“In the good years, work very hard to win everything that's possibly winnable. In the bad years, work just as hard to keep your losses to a minimum. There are good times, and there are bad times. But you have to stay in the game”.
Edward Zigler
Photograph of Edward Zigler (Headstart)

“The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people's children”.
Marian Wright Edelman

“A nation that does not stand for its children does not stand for anything and will not stand tall in the future”.
Marian Wright Edelman 

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it”.
Marian Wright Edelman 

Photograph of Marian Wright Edelman 

The Passion for Early Childhood Education

“Instead of playing house, I used to play school. I would place my dolls in a row and I had an easel and I would pretend to be the teacher. And as I grew I up, I continued to want to be a teacher because I think I had a built in passion. That it was important to make a real contribution in the world and to fix all the injustices that existed in the world. And I wanted to do that through teaching”.

                Louise Derman-Sparks

“It was very rewarding. It made me feel whole, it made me feel creative. And so it became my lifelong work. Early Childhood Education and the passion to make sure that all children were taught in environments and in ways that truly nurtured their ability to grow and develop to their fullest ability”.
                Louise Derman-Sparks

“I’m not here to save the world. I’m here just to make a difference in the community I work in. And to me making a difference may just mean helping one child to be successful in the classroom. For me that one little sparkle will make a difference for me” .
                Raymond Hemandez

Saturday, 14 September 2013


Hi Everyone!

My name is Rhiannon Aaviku and I am currently working as a primary school teacher. I have been teaching for the past five years and just recently decided to go back to school in order to complete my Master's Degree. I love love love what I do. I am so lucky to work in such a rewarding field. This blog has been created as part of my Degree requirements and contains tasks and reflections focusing on Early Childhood Studies. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!