UNIT: Building a Strong Foundation
What Exactly is 'High-Quality' Preschool? Claudio Sanchez and Cory Turner, NPR, 2014
The importance of a high-quality preschool program has been well documented by the HighScope Perry Preschool Research Study, and others. Implementing such a program is a complicated and difficult process. Strong evidence exists on what constitutes best practices in preschool education that lead to high academic achievement through the use of developmentally appropriate practices. The role of the teacher is stressed.
Head Start: A Bridge from Past to Future, Hinitz, Blythe S.F., Young Children, 2014
Head Start celebrated its 50th anniversary in the summer of 2014. We can learn from this historic program and the work done across the country to help families in poverty and their children at-risk of future success in school.
Play Is the Way . . ., Stuart Brown and Kristen Cozad, SGI Quarterly, 2013
Despite the overwhelming and very striking research on the benefits of play on current and future learning for children, there are those who argue play time is wasted time. The authors describe characteristics; they call signatures, which indicate an activity is play. They also point to the evidence that people of all ages who are allowed to engage in freely chosen play are more creative and productive. Those focused solely on academic achievement would do well to read the research on the benefits of play in all areas of development. Early childhood educators must advocate for adequate play opportunities for all children.
Why Pre-K Is Critical to Closing the Achievement Gap, Ellen Frede and W. Steven Barnett, Principal, 2011
Aimed at school administrators, but with a message for all, this article focuses on the role of a quality pre-K program in closing the achievement gap. An early formal school experience prior to kindergarten entry helps children develop the learning skills that will serve them for a lifetime of learning. The authors encourage administrators to educate themselves on the importance of early childhood education, readiness, and the components of a quality program. Hiring highly effective teachers of young children and offering support services for families are important components of a successful program.
The Hell of American Day Care: An Investigation into the Barely Regulated, Unsafe Business of Looking After Our Children, Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic, 2013
Ask any soon-to-be or working parent what concerns they have about the pending birth and often the number one concern centers on child care. Finding and paying for quality child care hangs heavy on the mind of parents. Licensing rules vary significantly from state to state and as a country we have made little progress over the years to help parents make wise choices for the care and education of their most precious possession in a safe and stimulating environment.
Are We Paving Paradise? Elizabeth Graue, Educational Leadership, 2011
The benefits of a play-based, child-centered kindergarten is the focus of Graue's article. Teachers must remind themselves of their knowledge base of child development and stay strong when asked to implement teaching practices not in the best interest of ever-changing five-year-old children. She builds a strong case for a play-based program. This is a must-share article with administrators and families pushing for more academics.
UNIT: Young Children, Their Families, and Communities
Why Dads Matter, Lois M. Collins and Marjorie Cortez, The Atlantic, 2014
One in three children grows up in a home without their biological father. More of these children grow up in poverty and many will face academic achievement challenges. Constantly changing family dynamics along with difficulties in forming strong bonds with a dad can plague children, especially boys, for years.
Building a Pedagogy of Engagement for Students in Poverty, Gorski, Paul C., Phi Delta Kappan, 2013
Teachers must consider children living in poverty as they design appropriate learning experiences. All children need high academic expectations to achieve coupled with compassion for the family to provide for basic needs. Strategies for the classroom along with steps for advocacy are also included.
Why Does Family Wealth Affect Learning? Daniel T. Willingham, American Educator, 2012
Willingham explains that the socioeconomic status (SES) of a child is determined not just by family wealth, but by family income, parental education, and parental occupation. These factors can impact the life of a young child in so many ways and are often used to determine if the child is at-risk of future success in school. Young children in poverty have financial as well as social and other stressors that may affect learning.
Increasing Family Engagement in Early Childhood Programs, Jamilah R. Jor'dan, Kathy Goetz Wolf, and Anne Douglass, Young Children, 2012
Developing strong relationships with the families of children in your classroom is one of the most critical tasks for teachers of young children. In this article the authors describe the Strengthening Families Program and how it operates in the State of Illinois and would also work in other states. Successful programs establish a welcoming environment where family members can feel comfortable as they learn how to best support their children. Teachers are able to participate in staff development to aid in developing useful skills.
Connecting with Families: Tips for Those Difficult Conversations, Jodi Whiteman, Young Children, 2013
No teacher feels comfortable initiating a conversation with a family member about a difficult behavior or guidance situation involving their child. Whiteman provides some suggestions which will help teachers develop a relationship, approach parents, and ask open ended questions followed by active listening to gather information that will best help the child.
Stopping Childhood Obesity Before It Begins, Deborah Mazzeo, et al., Phi Delta Kappan, 2012
The abundance of articles on childhood obesity speaks strongly of the urgency of this issue. Early intervention, daily physical activity, and staff awareness of the importance of prevention of obesity during the early childhood years is critical. First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move program is developing awareness, but more work is needed.
The Impact of Teachers and Families on Young Children's Eating Behaviors, Erin K. Eliassen, Young Children, 2011
The ongoing focus on childhood obesity has forced school personnel and families to work together to find solutions. The author shares strategies for encouraging children to develop healthy eating behaviors during the early childhood years that will serve them well throughout their lifetime.
Caring for Rosie the Riveter's Children, Bill MacKenzie, Young Children, 2011
Called the "best child care there ever was," the Kaiser Shipyards in Portland, Oregon provided round the clock child care so women could build the ships during World War II while the men served in the military. We have much to learn from reviewing our history where families could pick up prepared meals, school age children had weekend and school holiday programs and teachers earned high paying salaries that matched those of the workers in the shipyard. Application can be made to the needs today for childcare support offered by employers.
UNIT: Diverse Learners
1 in 68 Children Now Has a Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder—Why? Gnaulati, Enrico, The Atlantic, 2014.
There has been a significant increase in the number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Teachers are on the front line when it comes to carefully observing behaviors that when put all together, may signal a cause for further investigation. The health of each and every child in a classroom is a concern to the teacher and insuring that there is access to support services for educators and families is critical. Many children diagnosed with ASD have sensory processing issues as well.
Inclusion in Infant/Toddler Child Development Setting: More Than Just Including, Rebecca Parlakian, Young Children, 2012
More and more states are including licensing and certification standards for early childhood teachers which include the ability to work in inclusive settings serving all children from birth to age eight. Parlakian's article contains strategies that will help teachers develop strong relationships with families and include infants and toddlers with a variety of developing abilities into their classroom.
Kids Who Feel Too Much, Betsy Stephens, Parents, 2013
In our over stimulated and fast paced world, an increasing number of children are adversely affected by the many visual, auditory, taste, smell, and tactile encounters they have on a daily basis. The brain of a child with a sensory processing disorder may completely ignore stimuli or be highly agitated by the slightest stimulation. Teachers and parents are working to find ways to best meet the needs of children for whom common stimuli causes a disruption to their daily life.
Teach Up for Excellence, Carol Ann Tomlinson and Edwin Lou Javius, Educational Leadership, 2012
The phrase "engage their minds" is a powerful reminder to all teachers of what we need to do to foster the love of and joy in learning. Setting the academic achievement bar high and then providing the support and services to help diverse learners achieve is one of the most important jobs for a teacher. The authors provide principles for teaching up to afford all students, especially those at-risk, the opportunities to learn in an excellent environment.
The Wonder Years, Annie Papero, American School Board Journal, 2011
When Papero speaks of the wonder years, she is referring to those most important years prior to public school entry age when the foundation for future learning is often set. Poverty, family instability, and low quality child care all contribute to many children not maximizing learning experiences during those early childhood years. When school districts start to recognize that assisting diverse learners starts long before they enter school, progress will be made in closing the achievement gap.
Individualizing Instruction in Preschool Classrooms, Mary B. Boat, Laurie A. Dinnebeil, and Youlmi Bae, Dimenstions of Early Childhood, 2010
Interest in differentiating or individualizing learning experiences to meet the needs of all children is high among teachers. Teachers first need to know how to be intentional and differentiate to best support each child in his or her learning. Strategies for scaffolding are included.
Response to Intervention and Early Childhood Best Practices, Karen Wise Lindeman, Young Children, 2013
Teachers of all levels of children must be familiar with Response to Intervention tiers and the strategies to prevent future failure. When educators look for ways to differentiate the learning so every child can learn, success will happen. Resources for additional information are also included.
UNIT: Supporting Young Children’s Development
Making the Right Choice Simple, Ani N. Shabazian and Caroline Li Soga, Young Children, 2014
Providing the appropriate toys and materials for exploration and play by infants and toddlers is critical. The health and safety of this age group must be taken into consideration when adding materials to the environment. The authors provide key points to consider by families and teachers.
Which Toys Promote High-Quality Play? Reflections on the Five-Year Anniversary of the TIMPANI Study, Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, et al., Young Children, 2014
Five years of studying children’s toys and play materials yielded much information on toy preferences and what constitutes quality play. Teachers should consider children’s interests and needs when establishing the classroom environment.
Bringing Boys and Girls Together: Supporting Preschoolers’ Positive Peer Relationships, Hillary Manaster and Maureen Jobe, Young Children, 2012
Helping preschool children learn how to play and cooperate with their peers of the same and opposite gender is a critical part of an early childhood educator's job. The opportunity to develop strong relationships with other boys and girls can be facilitated by a teacher who creates inclusive settings and plans situations in which children can collaborate. Through engagement in cooperative experiences, children develop social and emotional competence and enhance their learning opportunities.
CHAOS in Kindergarten? Jenna Bilmes, Educational Leadership, 2012
Addressing challenging behaviors in the classroom is taking up more time and causing stress for all involved. Bilmes discusses some of the reasons why more challenging behaviors are being observed and how teachers can develop strong relationships and guidance techniques to best help children self-regulate their behavior.
Assessing Young Children's Learning and Development, Jacqueline Jones, Principal, 2011
The key question in this article is the third one in the opening paragraph, "What do the teachers and parents need to do so that each child is prepared to succeed in kindergarten and beyond?" That removes the heavy burden of the child not being ready and requires the adults to accurately assess each child's developmental level before planning the learning based on the standards.
Rough Play: One of the Most Challenging Behaviors, Frances M. Carlson, Young Children, 2011
Many teachers and parents deal with the dilemma of how to best handle rough and tumble or rough play. Young children need clear expectations for behavior along with ample opportunities to use large muscles as they practice physical skills through play.
UNIT: Educational Practices that Help Children Thrive in School
10 Ways Kindergarten Can Stop Failing Our Kids, Laurie Levy, AlterNet, 2014.
There is great discrepancy between what actually happens in kindergartens and what should happen in a child-centered kindergarten based on our knowledge of child development and best practices for five year olds. Teachers need to be strong advocates for the learning styles of the children in their class. Levy provides a specific list of ten developmentally appropriate practices.
It's Play Time! Joan Almon, Principal, 2013
There exists great discrepancy between what researchers know are best practices for children and what actually happens in schools and classrooms. The importance of play based learning is well documented, yet informed administrators, teachers and parents work tirelessly to spread the work about the importance of allowing children of all ages quality time to play.
Let's Get Messy!: Exploring Sensory and Art Activities with Infants and Toddlers, Trudi Schwarz and Julia Luckenbill, Young Children, 2012
Schwarz and Luckenbill include over a dozen possible creative play-based activities for adults to plan for infants and toddlers to engage them in diverse sensorial experiences and list many materials that can easily be collected. A discussion about adults being culturally sensitive in the materials offered to young children is also included.
Time for Play, Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, 2012
Defending the benefits of play and the importance of children having access to learning experiences that allow for active learning is an ongoing challenge for early childhood educators who follow best practice. Development in all areas including social and emotional, physical, cognitive, and creative can be achieved through freely chosen play.
UNIT: Teaching Practices That Help Children Thrive in School
Good Thinking! Fostering Children's Reasoning and Problem Solving, Jessica Vick Whittaker, Young Children, 2014
New research on cognitive development and how children develop critical thinking skills is resonating with teachers. Inquiry based learning experiences in the classroom allow children to develop the necessary problem solving skills for approaching future learning. These practices can be developmentally appropriate and important to the early childhood curriculum.
Happy 100th Birthday, Unit Blocks! Karyn W. Tunks, Young Children, 2013
Long been a staple in quality early childhood programs; the sturdy and reliable unit block is 100 years old. Known as a must have material by most teachers the opportunities for creative, cognitive, physical and social skills to develop by participating in block play are endless. Blocks, other than the 100 year old unit block, are described along with the importance of block play.
Want to Get Your Kids into College? Let Them Play, Erika Christakis and Nicholas Christakis, CNN, 2010.
This article is a powerful statement on the importance of allowing ample opportunities during early childhood for children to hone those lifelong skills through play. Cooperation, inquisitiveness, motivation, creating, and sharing are just a few of the behaviors learned through play that help with achievement in all areas of development.
Animal Attraction: Including Animals in Early Childhood Classrooms, Clarissa M. Uttley, Young Children, 2013
The decision to include animals in an early childhood classroom should not be made lightly. Teachers must be committed to the care of the animal throughout the year and incorporate the animal into the daily activities of the classroom. Family concerns and allergies must be taken into consideration along with the access to animals the children may have in their homes and community. The author includes many points to aid the teacher in making the decision.
Food Allergy Concerns in Primary Classrooms: Keeping Children Safe, Peggy Thelen and Elizabeth Ann Cameron, Young Children, 2012
Thelen and Cameron provide a comprehensive overview for primary grade teachers and other school personnel to provide a food safe environment. It begins with staff knowledgeable about eating behaviors, specific allergies, and how to recognize and respond to an emergency due to exposure to allergens. Staff should work to establish a safe environment for all.
Supporting Children's Learning While Meeting State Standards: Strategies and Suggestions for Pre-K-Grade 3 Teachers in Public School Contexts, Lisa S. Goldstein and Michelle Bauml, Young Children, 2012
Teachers are professional decision makers supporting their students' learning with daily decisions concerning classroom activities and lessons. Goldstein and Bauml suggest three traits necessary for teachers to balance the needs of the students and the rigorous demand of state standards and district-mandated curriculum.
The Potential of the Project Approach to Support Diverse Young Learners, Salle J. Beneke and Michaelene M. Ostrosky, Young Children, 2013
If teachers take the basic concepts of universal design that make architectural design accessible to all and apply those to the classroom in the approach called Universal Design for Learning, then they are better able to meet the diverse needs of all children. Differentiating learning experience through a curricular approach that allows children to investigate and explore extended projects lends itself to multiple ways for children to be involved in their learning.
UNIT: Curricular Issues
Social Studies in Preschool? Yes! Ann S. Epstein, Young Children, 2014.
Social Studies is one curricular content area that is often neglected in the early childhood classroom. Epstein explains the importance of children developing a sense of community and who they are during the preschool years. Teaching strategies are included to assist the teacher in implementing appropriate practices.
Starting Out Practices to Use in K-3, Nell K. Duke, Educational Leadership, 2013
The Common Core State Standards are changing the way teachers teach reading. Gone are the materials comprised of mostly fiction with cute sounding names like Flossie Flamingo replaced instead with more informational text. Teachers must make their classrooms informational text rich and provide multiple opportunities for early literacy experiences to inform as well as entertain.
Every Child, Every Day, Richard L. Allington and Rachael E. Gabriel, Educational Leadership, 2012
Allington and Gabriel introduce six research-based elements of literacy instruction that will ensure high-quality instructional activities for all students, every day. A student's personal choice is a key to the effectiveness of these elements even for struggling readers.
Developing Fine Motor Skills, J. Michelle Huffman and Callie Fortenberry, Young Children, 2011
Proper muscle development is crucial for a young child's physical fine motor development and the acquisition of skills in conventional writing. Huffman and Fortenberry provide a list of activities and materials that will engage children in different levels of motor development.