GTMS Life > Blog February 7, 2024

PADM: Media can Model!

Over the years, there have been many discussions about children’s use of technology. There are many ways to expose them to things that aren’t immediately in reach, ways to entertain, and a lot of educational potential! These wonders have also been accompanied by concerns of over use and how it may affect young children during […]

“A child is an eager observer and is particularly attracted by the actions of the adults and wants to imitate them. In this regard, an adult can have a kind of mission. He can be an inspiration for the child’s actions, a kind of open book, wherein a child can learn how to direct his own movements.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Over the years, there have been many discussions about children’s use of technology. There are many ways to expose them to things that aren’t immediately in reach, ways to entertain, and a lot of educational potential! These wonders have also been accompanied by concerns of over use and how it may affect young children during this sensitive period of development. 

In the Montessori classroom, we believe one of the best ways for a child to learn behaviors is to model it for them. This can be as simple as the way we move through the classroom, or more in depth like conflict navigation. Much of our actions are performed knowing that children are observing us. They are seeing how we may handle the materials we engage with, conversations we have, and reactions to classroom happenings. Children ages 3-6 are very observant of other children and adults alike. In this sensitive period of life, they are figuring out what it means to be a friend, a community member, a person! Adult behaviors are often a gauge for children. They look to adults for guidance in their own socialization. If we run through the classroom, they will take that as a cue that they can also run through the classroom!

“We give the child nourishing food so that his little body may grow, and in just the same way we must provide him with suitable nourishment for his mental and moral growth. ”

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents, p. 20

The same mimicry can happen when children are consuming different forms of media. Television, movies, games, and books can all model different ‘ways of being’ that the children may imitate. This can influence their developing value system and shaping of their behavior. Because young children are piecing together their own sense of self, they tend to “try out” ways of being that they see in various forms of media. This can be a wonderful way to expose children to new topics and begin discussing things they may not be as familiar with. However, different types of media can expose children to behaviors that may be unkind.

“To fully comprehend a narrative, children must not only understand and encode the individual events in the story but also conceptually connect different parts of the narrative. This requires, among other skills, sensitivity to the structure of narratives, the ability to make inferences, and the ability to access background knowledge about a great variety of situations and facts” (Graesser, Millis, & Zwaan, 1997; Graesser, Singer, & Trabasso, 1994; Kintsch & van Dijk, 1978; van den Broek,1990; van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983).

Some research suggests that young children can’t follow a complete story arc or fully comprehend a stories narrative; with this in mind, it is important to be careful of the media young children consume. Narrative comprehension is a tool built upon many skills that young children are practicing. Understanding others feelings, motivation, consequences, and the ability to make inferences are all building blocks to understanding story narrative. Even the ‘good guys’ in shows or movies ‘win’ through violent behavior, having to injure or kill the ‘villain’. Violent actions can often be paired with humor in shows, such as, hitting someone to get them to “snap out of it!”. Young children may not piece together the psychological cause or the character’s motivation behind their actions, they simply see a character they like performing something that they might experiment with in their own lives. The child may or may not be able to make the distinction that these actions are not kind or socially acceptable; rather, included for dramatic effect or comedy. This can lead to a child incorporating harmful actions into play, not realizing the negative impact it can have on others.

We have books where there is a display of unkind behaviors such as, a classroom favorite, The Good Egg. In this book, there is one good egg that is unhappy with the other eggs in his carton due to their negative behavior. While reading this book, we make sure to pause and acknowledge the type of behavior we are seeing, and asking the children questions such as “Was this kind?”, “How do you think this made the others feel?”, or “How do you think you would feel if this happened to you?”. The silliness of the book, paired with the unkindness that some of the eggs display, can be confusing for children. Pausing and giving the children the opportunity to reflect on what they are seeing can help them really consider the actions displayed, and how it could translate into their life. Incorporating these questions into discussions about media at home can be a great way to help children understand behaviors displayed in stories they are seeing outside of school as well!

The saying “Children are like sponges” rings true. Having continuous conversations about actions they see in the media they consume can help their understanding. They are constantly observing and absorbing the actions they see in life, and their entertainment. While they are trying to make sense of these things, it is our job to help guide them in understanding the nature of these behaviors, and the possible effects (positive and negative!) of them.

Linked here is the research paper quoted above: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237523111_The_Development_of_Narrative_Comprehension_and_Its_Relation_to_Other_Early_Reading_Skills

As always, thank you all for being a part of our community!

Warmly,

Ms. Amanda, Ms. Maggie, Ms. J, Ms. Shawn, Teacher Bailey, and Teacher Milo

Important Upcoming Dates:

2/9- 8:30am PADM Parent Coffee!

2/19- ALL GTMS CLOSED for Presidents day

2/25- 10:00-12:00 Winter family social

3/1- Parent teacher conferences

3/8- Parent teacher conferences

3/15- ALL GTMS CLOSED for professional development

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