Not Just Cute, the Podcast: Intentional Whole Child Development for Parents and Teachers of Young Children
Not Just Cute, the Podcast shares conversations about topics related to whole child development to support teachers and parents in serving young children. Hosted by Amanda Morgan.
info_outline Episode 50: Rethinking the Entire Approach to Preschool (Diving into the NPR Article) 03/14/2022
Episode 50: Rethinking the Entire Approach to Preschool (Diving into the NPR Article) Early last month, NPR published an article with the title, “A top researcher says it's time to rethink our entire approach to preschool”. Maybe you saw it, or like me, maybe you had several people send it to you because they knew you’d find it fascinating. The article featured developmental psychologist and researcher Dr. Dale Farran and her reflections on the most recent round of startling outcomes from the Tennessee Voluntary PreK cohort, which she and her colleagues at Vanderbilt University have been studying for more than a decade. The article struck a nerve, particularly its last line which said, “We might actually get better results, … from simply letting little children play.” In this episode, I’ll be diving into some of the context around this article and the study it references. We’ll talk about what we can learn from these results and why these lessons apply far beyond the scope of the popular article. Show Notes: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode50
info_outline Episode 49: Leaders Lounge with Beth Cannon 01/05/2022
Episode 49: Leaders Lounge with Beth Cannon Find Show Notes at This episode comes from a livestream I did with Leaders Lounge summit organizer, Beth Cannon. We talked about her experience helping early education teams get clear about their purpose and about their process. We take on a topic that makes many educators uncomfortable – business – and talk about how certain business concepts, help us build better teams, have clearer communication with parents, and overall, simply improve the way we serve children and families. Beth also gives the inside scoop on her upcoming summit, the Leaders Lounge. This unique online summit includes resources focused on both classroom teachers and program directors. Inside the summit, you’ll find value-packed presentation from an array of speakers on topics that will lead to true transformation for yourself and your team. You’ll learn about theory and practice, but also practical tips on how to implement systems that allow you automate, delegate, or eliminate some of the more redundant tasks and free up more time to the things that create a lasting impact. The Leaders Lounge offers inspiration, application, and connection for professionals who want to make a lasting difference. The summit takes place online Friday January 14th – Monday January 17th , 2022.
info_outline Episode 48: Connecting Through Music (with Laurie Berkner) 12/20/2021
Episode 48: Connecting Through Music (with Laurie Berkner) If you’ve spent much time listening to children’s music, you’ve likely heard of Laurie Berkner. And if you haven’t, you’ll be thanking me for the introduction later. Laurie Berkner has a gift not only for creating engaging music that even adults actually like, but for truly seeing, hearing, and respecting children in the process. For her, each performance is really about connection first. If you’re looking for new music in your classroom, you’ll definitely find that here, but you’ll also learn some surprising insights about how we show up for and connect with children in meaningful ways. Let’s jump in! Find Show Notes at https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode48
info_outline Episode 47: Supporting New Teachers (with Vanessa Levin) 11/23/2021
Episode 47: Supporting New Teachers (with Vanessa Levin) I'm talking with Vanessa Levin of PreK Pages and Teaching Trailblazers about how we can better support each other as educators!
info_outline Episode 46: The Power of Nature Play (with Meghan Fitzgerald of Tinkergarten) 09/16/2021
Episode 46: The Power of Nature Play (with Meghan Fitzgerald of Tinkergarten) Meghan Fitzgerald has combined her many professional and personal experiences with her passion for learning, play, and nature, to create Tinkergarten, a program that supports caregivers in providing children with powerful outdoor play experiences. In this episode, she shares her insights on how and why playing in nature benefits every child’s development and supports healthier, happier growth. Show Notes at: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode46
info_outline Episode 45: Getting Parents on Board with Play (with Rae Pica) 07/29/2021
Episode 45: Getting Parents on Board with Play (with Rae Pica) I had a great conversation recently with my friend, Rae Pica, about how and why we should get parents on board with play-based, developmentally appropriate education. Show Notes: www.https://notjustcute.com/podast/episode45
info_outline Episode 44: Fairy Dust Teaching (with Sally Haughey) 06/24/2021
Episode 44: Fairy Dust Teaching (with Sally Haughey) You may be familiar with Sally Haughey’s amazing work through Fairy Dust Teaching, a site committed to respecting the whole child, community, play, and education as a living, breathing art form. She began the site in 2010, as a place to collect and share her own thoughts as an early childhood educator. In the eleven years since then, it has grown into a global community and has been the springboard for two books and multiple conferences and summits, all focused on the beauty and wonder and magic of early learning. Sally is a brilliant balance of down to earth accessibility and enchanting inspiration. I know you’re going to love her as we talk about the importance of wonder, play, and building up great humans! Show Note: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode44
info_outline Episode 43: "The Uncontrollable Child" (with Matis Miller) 06/11/2021
Episode 43: "The Uncontrollable Child" (with Matis Miller) Matis Miller is the author of the new book, The Uncontrollable Child. He’s a licensed clinical social worker and therapist and the founder, director, and supervisor of The Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of New Jersey. Certified in both cognitive and dialectical behavior therapies, Matis brings a unique perspective on the balance point between extremes – something that is often missing in conversations about challenging childhood behaviors. If you’ve been wanting to show up to behavior challenges with more confidence and clarity, you are in the right place. Find show notes at www.https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode43
info_outline Episode 42: Thrivers (with Dr. Michele Borba) 03/25/2021
Episode 42: Thrivers (with Dr. Michele Borba) Dr. Borba's newest book, THRIVERS: The Surprising Reason Why Some Kids Struggle While Others Shine, combines scientific studies, input from dozens of researchers/experts focusing on resilience, and interviews with more than 100 young people from all walks of life. Through all of that research, Dr. Borba found something surprising: the difference between those who struggle and those who succeed comes down not to grades or test scores, but to seven character traits that set Thrivers apart (and set them up for happiness and greater accomplishment later in life). Find show notes at https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode42
info_outline Episode 41: Lessons from Remote Teaching (with Allison McDonald) 03/10/2021
Episode 41: Lessons from Remote Teaching (with Allison McDonald) One year ago, Allison McDonald was teaching preschool in the state of Washington and writing her popular blog, No Time for Flash Cards. Like many other teachers, her class was suddenly canceled when the pandemic hit and the world shut down. After the initial shock, her school began talking about how they could safely move forward and continue serving children and families. While working with her team to answer those questions, Allison was fielding similar questions from teachers in her online world as well. Over the past year, she’s been innovating to serve her own students while also supporting teachers around the globe during this unique and challenging period. Through it all, she’s not only discovered tips and concepts to help teachers through a pandemic, but she’s also identified key questions that we can all use to guide us now AND as we move forward. Show Notes: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode41
info_outline Episode 40: What's New with DAP? 01/07/2021
Episode 40: What's New with DAP? Show Notes: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode40 After the U.S.- based National Association for the Education of Young Children – or NAEYC – launched its national accreditation system for early childhood learning programs in the early 1980s, they made an interesting observation. While their accreditation criteria frequently referenced the term “developmentally appropriate practice”, when they met with different people across a variety of programs, they found little agreement about what that term actually meant. In response, the association released a position statement in the mid-80s to help create a more cohesive understanding and application of the term across the field of early education. In the same spirit of responsive care that they endorse, NAEYC revises and updates their position statement about every 10 years to respond to the current state of research and social discourse, and to clarify misunderstandings. The Fourth Edition of NAEYC’s Position Statement was released at the end of 2020. If you’ve been curious about what kind of changes can be found in this latest edition, I’ll be jumping into some of the main concepts and key changes in this episode.
info_outline Episode 39: Let's Play, America! (with Pat Rumbagh) 12/11/2020
Episode 39: Let's Play, America! (with Pat Rumbagh) Several years ago, Pat Rumbaugh was nicknamed “The Play Lady.” And the nickname stuck. After spending 25 years getting young people to play through her work as a PE teacher and tennis coach, she co-founded Let’s Play America and took on the task of encouraging people of ALL ages across the nation to prioritize play. We’ll be talking about why play matters and how we can do a better job of setting aside time to play every day. In her TEDx Talk, Saving Play- One Playful Step at a Time, Pat not only shared her important message, but she delivered part of it while hula-hooping. Pat is clearly playfully passionate, and she has an important message to share today. Find Show Notes At: https://www.notjustcute.com/podcast/episode39
info_outline Episode 38: Finding the Verbs and the Magic in Early Childhood Education (with Heather Jackson) 11/24/2020
Episode 38: Finding the Verbs and the Magic in Early Childhood Education (with Heather Jackson) I'm so excited for you to meet Heather Jackson, director of the Reggio-inspired Sunflower School. In this episode she shares her thoughts on verbs as thematic units, slowing down to capture the true intentions of the children we work with, and the beauty and importance in the magical thinking of childhood. Whether you aspire to teach specifically from the Reggio philosophy or not, you will find so much inspiration in this episode. If you’ve been wondering how you could do an even better job of bringing a child-centered approach to your curriculum or if you’re looking to bring more of the magic of childhood into your teaching practices, you are in for a treat. Show Notes: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode38
info_outline Episode 37: What if We Taught the Way Children Learn (with Rae Pica) 10/15/2020
Episode 37: What if We Taught the Way Children Learn (with Rae Pica) If you’ve ever questioned the status quo in early education or wondered how you could better educate the whole child – particularly during this time of unique regulations – you’re going to want to listen to what Rae Pica has to share.
info_outline Episode 36: Resilience (with Dr. Nefertiti Poyner) 09/18/2020
Episode 36: Resilience (with Dr. Nefertiti Poyner) Today I’m talking with Dr. Nefertiti Poyner of the Devereaux Center for Resilient Children and I’m going to to tell you right now, she is an absolute delight. Educators and the children they love and teach are being stretched in every direction, Dr. Poyner shares some of the principles that create the “ordinary magic” that helps us all to bounce back. She shares a fantastic script for building resilience and relationships in the midst of all the frustration that children are feeling as they navigate new restrictions in the classroom and helps us all to remember how to “live today well.” Find show notes at https://www.notjustcute.com/podcast/episode36
info_outline Episode 35: A Back to School Pep Talk 08/14/2020
Episode 35: A Back to School Pep Talk It’s back to school time, and normally that means getting back to the structure of something familiar….but this year is totally different. And it’s different for each of you. I’ve been thinking about how to kick off this new school year, with a pep talk of sorts, and somehow address all of the challenges and all of these differences in a way that applies to each of you in your unique circumstances. Show Note: https://www.notjustcute.com/podcast/episode35
info_outline Episode 34: Play, Standards, and Literacy (with Vanessa Levin) 07/10/2020
Episode 34: Play, Standards, and Literacy (with Vanessa Levin) Today I’m talking with Vanessa Levin about the importance of play in early childhood education with some extra attention to how playful learning can go hand in hand with meeting objectives and promoting literacy.
info_outline Episode 33: Grieving the School Year We Thought We'd Have 04/22/2020
Episode 33: Grieving the School Year We Thought We'd Have As states and districts begin this trickling process of making final announcements about the school year, many closing -at least physically – for the remainder of the school year, I’ve seen heartbreak reflected over and over in educators around the country. These feelings of loss. Over the progress we were making. Over the plans we’d set out. Over the routine we loved – a hundred little precious things that happened every day. Over the work we love, and most of all, over these children we love. There’s a collective mourning over the school year we thought we’d have. Jill Riley talks with me about how to acknowledge and process our grief and why we need to do that in order to get "unstuck" and move forward. Find show notes at: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode33
info_outline Episode 32: How Interactions Build Young Brains 02/21/2020
Episode 32: How Interactions Build Young Brains In this episode, we’ll cover a quick review of what serve and return interactions are as well as what the newest research tells us about why they’re so important. Find Show Notes at:
info_outline Episode 31: Engaging Young Scientists, with Asia Citro 12/12/2019
Episode 31: Engaging Young Scientists, with Asia Citro Author of Zoey & Sassafras and creator of the publishing house, Innovation Press, Asia Citro is truly a woman on a mission to help young children think creatively and see themselves as scientists. You’ll want to catch what Asia has to say about helping children see themselves as scientists and how we can all learn to see that science is truly everywhere. I think she’ll give you a lot to think about as she challenges us to see failure as a necessity and to overcome our adult tendency to over-control the science experiences and instead invite more ownership from our youngest scientists. Show Notes: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode31
info_outline Episode 30: Kids in the Kitchen, with Tiffany Dahle 11/13/2019
Episode 30: Kids in the Kitchen, with Tiffany Dahle Cooking can be a powerful activity for young children. From literacy skills, math skills, fine motor skills, and sensory and science experiences, along with the confidence that comes from taking risks, learning from failures, and sharing time and food with others, time in the kitchen with kids is time well spent. I’ve invited my friend, Tiffany Dahle to talk with us about her experiences with teaching children to cook. She’s the author of two cookbooks for kids – The Ultimate Kids’ Cookbook, and The Ultimate Kids’ Baking Book -- and author of the blog, Peanut Blossom. (In the interview, you’ll hear her mention that the baking book hasn’t released yet, but it actually *just came out yesterday*.) Tiffany and I have known each other for about a decade now, and as the online world often works – we’ve been emailing and messaging for years, but this is the first time we’ve finally be able to connect for a live conversation. She has some fantastic things to say about the importance of starting small, cooking and baking as a type of play, and why managing risk has everything to do with experience and practice rather than avoidance. Get the show notes at: https://www.notjustcute.com/podcast/episode30
info_outline Episode 29: Acting Out (with Rae Pica) 10/08/2019
Episode 29: Acting Out (with Rae Pica) Why are there so many reports of children frequently falling out of their seats? Why is behavior becoming more and more of a challenge in the classroom? And why are delayed fine motor skills becoming more and more prevalent? One common thread, as my guest Rae Pica will explain, is movement.
info_outline Episode 28: Second Read - Advanced Content at Kindergarten - What can we really learn from this controversial new study? 09/17/2019
Episode 28: Second Read - Advanced Content at Kindergarten - What can we really learn from this controversial new study? Back at the beginning of 2019 a study made a bit of a splash as headlines claimed that it demonstrated that the increased academic expectations in the early years don’t compromise social and emotional development as some fear.
info_outline Episode 27: Planning a Parent Play Night at Your School 08/23/2019
Episode 27: Planning a Parent Play Night at Your School Today I’m talking about how to get parents on board with play in your classrooms, right from the start. Just like the children, each parent in your classroom comes with a different set of life experiences and perspectives. For some, the concept that their child’s best learning will be through play is a new revelation. Some may be expecting more of a sit down and do worksheets environment. Others may be supportive of play, but still not exactly sure why it’s best for their children. One of the items I recently shared at a conference was the idea of having a Parent Night or a Parent Playdate to get everyone on the same page. I’ve had some follow up questions since then, so today, I’m going to walk you through some ideas for structuring that event to make it more successful. Find shownotes at https://www.notjustcute.com/podcst/episode27
info_outline Episode 26: The Artful Parent - Kids' Art and Creativity (with Jean Van't Hul) 07/23/2019
Episode 26: The Artful Parent - Kids' Art and Creativity (with Jean Van't Hul) Today I’m talking with the Artful Parent, Jean VanHult. She is what she calls an “art enabler”, a term that I love! She’s also the author of the book, The Artful Parent. You can find show notes for this episode at www.https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode26
info_outline Episode 25: Online Preschool- Panacea or Placebo? 07/14/2019
Episode 25: Online Preschool- Panacea or Placebo? Online preschool options are growing in popularity. Just this past spring, Ted Talk organizers created a bit of a stir in the early childhood community when they awarded a portion of their Audacious Project funding to an online preschool company, Waterford UPSTART. While proponents suggest this is an affordable and accessible option for families that may not otherwise have preschool options, detractors say the most valuable parts of preschool could never be packaged into a virtual program. Even before this brouhaha boiled over, Amy Webb was writing about the misconceptions surrounding online preschool on her site, The Thoughtful Parent. I’m so excited to have her join me on today’s episode to break this topic down. Is online preschool the panacea for early education inequality, or just a placebo we invest in to make ourselves feel better? You can find show notes for this episode at Https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode25
info_outline Episode 24: Cribsheet with Emily Oster -- Making Decisions as a Parent 05/16/2019
Episode 24: Cribsheet with Emily Oster -- Making Decisions as a Parent There are many decisions to make as a parent. Breastfeed or bottle? Cosleep or no? Where to find quality care? And when you reach out for more information while making these decisions, the waters sometimes seem to only get more cloudy. Emily Oster's new book, Cribsheet, tackles many common decisions make in the early years. But she's not here to tell you what to do. She's taking a different approach. Applying her experience as an economist (which, I've learned, is really the science of informed decision-making) to her role as a parent, she's sharing an approach that is equal parts, rigorous data and honest wholistic consideration. Find show notes at: https://notjustcute.com/podcast/episode24
info_outline Episode 23: Brave Learner - Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life (with Julie Bogart) 02/28/2019
Episode 23: Brave Learner - Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life (with Julie Bogart) Julie Bogart is an accomplished writer and the creator of a popular language arts program, Brave Writer. She's also mom to five (now grown) children, whom she homeschooled for 17 years. Her new book, Brave Learner – Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life, shares so many perspectives about inspiring wonder and engaging in responsive learning with your children. It’s written specifically for homeschooling parents, but I found that so much of it would be applicable to anyone who views their home as a place of learning – regardless of where their children officially “do school”. So whether you’re homeschooling, considering homeschooling, or just looking to learn more about how you can incorporate more learning at home, this book and this discussion have so much to offer! Find Show Notes at
info_outline Episode 22: Inspiring Wonder, Awe, and Empathy - Spiritual Development in Young Children (with Deborah Schein PhD) 02/18/2019
Episode 22: Inspiring Wonder, Awe, and Empathy - Spiritual Development in Young Children (with Deborah Schein PhD) development can be talked about in an academic construct, I received Deborah Schein’s book (Inspiring Wonder, Awe, and Empathy- Spiritual Development in Young Children) and found confirmation for some of those things that I had found in the research as well. That spiritual development takes us beyond ourselves and into something bigger. Wonder, awe, and a deeper sense of meaning in life and relationships. I’ve been excited to bring Deborah Schein on to talk about what spiritual development looks like, and how it drives the other areas of development. Find Show Notes at
info_outline Episode 21: Your Mistakes Aren't Ruining Your Kids - The importance of active repair. 12/16/2018
Episode 21: Your Mistakes Aren't Ruining Your Kids - The importance of active repair. This episode was inspired by a real-life conversation with a friend of mine who was venting about not handling a parenting situation the way she WISHED she would have….the way she KNEW she should have. But the morning was just too much and she snapped. She didn’t handle the challenge the way she wished she had and the whole thing left her and her child feeling horrible. Now what? Sound familiar? I think we’ve all been there. So today we’re going to talk about why these meltdown moments WON’T ruin your kids and what the science of attachment tells us about how we can actually respond to them in a way that makes our relationships stronger. Find shownotes at www.notjustcute.com/podcast/episode21