In May, Diane was in Kathmandu, Nepal, working with colleague, Professor Kishor Shrestha, Country Coordinator of Global Family Village Nepal. She visited schools and orphanages and consulted on several issues related to her own work. She saw the devastating effects both of the high levels of poverty in most parts of the country she visited, and of the 2015 earthquake on the country and its children and families.
Diane visited an impressive school that is working with ICRI, an American-based program, which trains EC teachers in Nepal (and other countries), to incorporate play into its very early classrooms and provides some simple play materials. But most of the early childhood classrooms in the state elementary schools that Diane saw (beginning for children younger than 3-years old), spend most of their time (of an approximate 6-hour school day) on rote teaching of letters and numbers, using commercially-produced workbook programs.
Diane gave two talks in Nepal: “Helping Children in Dangerous and Scary Times” and “Screens, Screens Everywhere: Challenges & Opportunities for Young Children—Today & in the Future.” In both talks, she was asked to show how a focus on play in school, rather than rote teaching of academic skills, is central to promoting learning and healing for Nepali children in these times. She was also asked about how to help manage the media in children’s lives as it is causing them to lose much of their play at home; they have never had much play at school.
As Diane returns to her work in the United States, she is left thinking about the many parallels between the educational and play needs of children in Nepal and the United States, and how we can all work together around the world to promote the wellbeing of all young children.