The Month of the Young Child
, celebrated every April, is unique to Pittsburgh: other cities in the U.S. only have a Week of the Young Child this month. Here's a guide to just a few of the ways you can get involved during the rest of this month:
All Aboard the PA Early Learning Train: April 15, 6-8:15 p.m., Glenshaw Valley Presbyterian Church
Experience the Imagination Playground, learn about financial literacy for preschoolers and relax while learning yoga for kids from PBS's Hooper. This event is open to the North Hills, Northgate, Pine-Richland, North Allegheny, Shaler, Hampton and Fox Chapel school district residents as well as to early childhood centers and providers in the North Hills. Teachers can get Act 48 credits. To register, email here
Annual Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC) Celebration Dinner, April 16, 4:30-8 p.m., Carnegie Museum of Art
This event honors the vital work of early childhood care and education providers. Keynote speaker is Jerlean Daniel, executive director of the national group NAEYC. Participants will meet Lynn Zelevansky, director of the Carnegie Museum of Art, who will talk about the new Carnegie International Exhibit, with its focus on 'play and playgrounds' (see below), as well as other museum opportunities for early childhood educators and young children. Hors d'oeuvres, dinner, drinks and dessert will be provided, and parking is free. Cost: $9/PAEYC members; $14/non-members.
Action Day, April 23, for all Early Childhood, School-Age, and Out of School Time Educators and Providers
Get on the bus and speak up for the children in your care: call Molly in the PAEYC office at 412-421-3889 or email her here
to join hundreds of early childhood advocates, school-age and out of school time educators/child care providers, parents and caregivers in Harrisburg to advocate for quality early childhood education. The group will gather at Pine Street Church (310 North 3rd Street, Harrisburg, across from the Capitol's main entrance) to check in, network, get materials and mentoring, and participate in professional development opportunities throughout the day, then walk over to the Pennsylvania Capitol Building to visit with state legislators, participate in a group rally in the Capitol Rotunda at 1:30 p.m., and watch the state legislature in action. Registration is required.
Play Day at the Carnegie Museums, April 27
The Carnegie International gathers the best in contemporary art from around the world, some of which is bought for the Carnegie Museum of Art's permanent collection.
Now the event is held about once every four years, and this year the three curators "collectively are inspired by the concept of play," says Marilyn M. Russell, the museum's curator of education. "They are very conscious of how important this kind of thinking is for artists, but really for all of us. We're interested in showcasing this from before people even enter the building."
Being constructed right now along the museum's Forbes Avenue entrance is the Lozziwurm, a play structure that is a brightly colored twist of tubes designed by Swiss artist Yvan Pestalozzi. Appearing for the first time in the U.S., it will be available for free play during the museum's regular hours beginning April 27.
Everyone can enjoy the chance to play on and in the Lozziwurm "and invent where you are," Russell says. "Are we climbing through outer space, or are we climbing through the underground like a squirrel or chipmunk, or are we making up our own place?
"Play is a really valuable and critical part of kids' and adults' lives as well," she adds. "Having these kinds of places that are places that kids can imaginatively and creatively play, that are free form and there aren't any rules to follow, allowing you to think of places that are outside your daily experiences, that are places where you can take risks … these are all the kinds of things we think are not important, but we join with PAEYC in saying these are intrinsically important things for kids to get a better sense of themselves. We hope these things will be better understood as critical parts of child development."
On April 27, the museums will also be free for kids 12 and the exhibitions will have additional features to aid in play and learning, such as the chance to experience puppet shows, invent stories and work with scientists, as well as lots of intergenerational art making.
Also joining with PAEYC in the summer, fall and through the end of the International, in spring 2014, the Carnegie is planning professional development for teachers, parents and others in the early childhood education environment, to help play become adopted throughout one's life. "It's fundamental to the art-making process and we think it is a way of thinking that adults should be open to throughout their lives," Russell says.
On June 8, the Playground Project will also open in the Carnegie's architectural hall. It's an exhibition about the history of playground design from the 1930s through the 1970s -- its heyday. "By making play experiences for kids completely predictable and safe, we eliminate the ability of kids to take little steps toward what it means to try something new," she says. This exhibit will show what it was like in a more innocent and perhaps less litigious time for playground design. Kids will even be able to design their own playgrounds, play spaces and objects in the Carnegie's summer camps this year.