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Thinking, Creating, Reflecting: Impacting the Future

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Letter from the Education Committee! May 8, 2020

Dear Spectrum Families,

I was reading an article by Valerie Strauss and thought she did a great job of capturing the words of two
educators/authors, William Doyle and Pasi Sahlberg, regarding the future of education.

Both authors hope to see big changes in the way Americans view and do school. They hope that
students, and especially the younger, will be given the time to do what research shows is good for them:
learning through structured play and an end to standardized testing.

“The coronavirus crisis has shattered one of the most dysfunctional pillars of childhood education. On
March 20, 2020, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suspended the federal requirement for the mass
standardized testing of children. These decisions should be made permanent, and the job of assessing
learning should be returned to classroom teachers.”

Both authors hope that when the school doors open again, that we will provide a better educational
system. “To do this, we should build our schools upon a foundation of what the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) calls, ‘ideal educational and developmental milieu for children:’ play in all of its forms.”

The evidence is clear. A wide range of research indicates that intellectual and physical play offers many
cognitive, social, emotional and health benefits. Play is the learning language of children, and
pediatricians know it has the power to supercharge more conventional forms of academic instruction.
According to Yogman, Principal author of the AMA’s 2028 report “The Power of Play”, a worst case
scenario would be for schools to say, “We missed four months of academic subjects and tests, so we’re
going to compress it all into a month and catch up.” He considers this kind of thinking a terrible idea,
since “it would just accentuate the stress children are already experiencing and undermine their
capacity for productive learning.”

Play is urgently relevant to the new education world that will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Play can mitigate stress,” Yogman tells us. “The executive functions skills that kids develop through play
can promote resilience, and play can restore safe and nurturing relationships with parents, teachers and
other children, which also promotes resilience.

In these times of uncertainly, pain and fear, play can be a big part of the cure. During this crisis, parents
should resist the temptation to overstress their children with excessive, often screen-based remote at-
home learning to “not fall behind.” In this unprecedented chapter in world history, children need
parental attention and love, comfort, safety, nondigital play, healthy routines, songs, books, blocks,
basic art supplies, and physical activity, much more than they need academic pressure, graded
assignments and excessive screen time.

Applaud yourself for being there for your children, providing them all you can in terms of educational
support, providing a safe place to grow, and unconditional love. We know it has not been easy but take
away to need to be the perfect parent. Take the time to play with your children, follow their lead, find
your joy in being a kid with them part of every day. Spectrum has taught you well.

The mission of childhood education can no longer be the generation of standardized test data, but
learning powered by the physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being of every child, parent,
and teacher. Learning will take place whether they are in a school setting, home, or on the road to an
adventure. Spectrum has lived this philosophy since the 1960s. We listened to the best expert evidence and designed our school to address and support the whole child. Thank you for all you do for your child and thank you for letting Spectrum be a part of their wonderous adventures…all beginning with play!

Claire Rotolo
Spectrum Education Committee Chair

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