James Heckman is one of the world’s most distinguished economists. He built his career studying the labor market. In 2000, he won the Nobel Prize.

But in recent years, Heckman has become famous for something else. He is now one of the country’s leading advocates for investments in early childhood education.

Let’s do all we can to spread the message that to invest in Early Childhood Education is an investment in our future!Heckman

 

How a Nobel Prize-winning economist became an advocate for preschool | state of opportunity.

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The Not So Common Core Standards: Potential Implications and Meaning For Us All.

A powerful blog asking all of us to think, question, reflect, and act…Do you work in the public school system?  What do you think about this?  I feel very fortunate that I work in a preschool which gives me the freedom to work in new ways with young children.  Most preschools at this time are private schools which allow those of us who work in them to be free from “core standards” and all the testing that is associated with them. In which ways can we advocate for a different kind of education for young children?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need a short, credible, to the point case for the importance of early childhood education to share with parents, funders,      or other stakeholders, check out “The Science of Early Child Development,” a policy brief from the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University.  This brief shares five concepts that illustrate the importance of our work:

  1. Brains are built over time, from the bottom up.

  2. The interactive influences of genes and experience shape the developing brain.

  3. The brain’s capacity for change decreases with age.

  4. Cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are inextricably intertwined throughout the life course.

  5. Toxic stress dama ges developing brain architecture, which can lead to life-long problems in learning, behavior, and physical mental health.

I especially like to focus on “cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are intertwined throughout the life course”   Think about your observations of young children.  Have you noticed that you can’t have the cognitive without the social? Can you give an example?  Can you make that visible in your room through photos and documentation?

 

“Today, we have a great deal of scientific evidence on the language and literacy development of infants. Much of it reinforces our intuition to engage children through relationships and to impart knowledge through intense interaction. Yet, the evidence also strongly suggests that there is much more we can do as parents and teachers to build stronger language and literacy skills in young children.
There is a science to early language and literacy development. We can better prepare children for later school achievement by taking what we know and making it an intentional and integral part of early childhood education—particularly among at-risk children and families.” From Crib to Classroom

Click on the link to download.  This might be a great conversation starter for professional development.  Your thoughts?

 

 

From Crib to Classroom: Developing Language and Skills for Reading | Invest in US.

 

According to Katz and Chard (1998)  in recent years many teachers of young children have taken a hands- off approach to skill building because they confuse systematic instruction ( teaching individual children a progression of skills that contribute to greater proficiency) with direct instruction (teaching the same skills at the same time in the same way to a whole class).  Wanting to provide developmentally appropriate environments, teachers often shy away from any instruction and fail to give children instruction in basic skills they need to get through the day.

How can we use this research to better understand our job and children’s learning?  Remembering how important conversation is to cognitive development, how can you utilize conversation as a tool to offer instructions to young children?

Jean Piaget: founder of Constructivism

Jean Piaget 

 

 

“What unifies constructivists across the board, is the notion that children are active builders of their own cognitive tools, as well as of their external realities.  In other words, knowledge and the world are both construed and interpreted through action, and mediated through tool- and symbol use.  Each gains existence and form through the construction of the other. In Piaget’s worlds:”intelligence organizes the world by organizing itself ” (Piaget, 1937, p. 311). What’s more,  knowledge, to constructivists, is not a mere commodity to be transmitted—delivered at one end,encoded, retained, and re-applied at the other. Likewise, the world is not just sitting out there waiting to be uncovered, but gets progressively shaped and reshaped as people interact with it.

Most psychologists and educators of constructivist obedience indeed would agree that learning is less about acquiring information or transmitting existing ideas or values, than it is about individually and collectively imagining and creating a world in which it is worth living.” (Constructivism(s): Shared roots, crossed paths, multiple legacies – a brilliant overview of constructivism and constructionism by Edith Ackerman)

As we think about a world worth living, remind yourself that you are shaping the world as you interact with it.  That includes young children! That is a huge responsibility and privilege!

Have you given thought to what you believe, how children build knowledge? Take some time to revisit  educational philosophies. Are your beliefs in line with beliefs and values of the school or center where you work? Have some deep conversations with co workers.  What do they believe?

“One of the essential attributes of a good teacher — from preschool through graduate school — is the disposition to respect learners,” observes Lilian Katz in her book, Intellectual Emergencies: Some Reflections on Mothering and Teaching.  She explains…

“I suggest that to respect the learner means, among other things, attributing to the learner positive qualities, intentions, and expectations, even when the available evidence may cast doubts on the learner’s possession of these attributes.  A respectful relationship between the teacher and the learner is marked also by treating learners with dignity, listening closely and attentively to what the learners say, as well as looking for what they seem reluctant to say.  Respect also includes treating the learners as sensible persons, even though that assumption sometimes requires a stretch of the teacher’s imagination.  When it comes to young children this element of respect implies that we should resist the temptation to talk to young children in silly sweet voices, heaping empty praise on them, and giving them certificates indicating that smiling bear believes they are special.  This disrespectful strategy makes a mockery of teaching.  After all, teaching is about helping learners to make better, deeper, and fuller sense of their experience and to derive deep satisfaction from the processes of doing so.  Education, after all, is not about amusement, excitement, or entertainment.”