ERIC Number: ED498172
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Dec-6
Reference Count: N/A
A Call to Action on the Education of Young Children. Background Information and References
Alliance for Childhood (NJ3)
Increasingly, kindergarten has become a full day of school, and nearly the whole day is devoted to academic instruction. Early childhood education is being pushed strongly toward the cognitive approach, with strong emphasis on early academic achievement, including the testing of young children to measure their accomplishments. What is lost or curtailed in this change are activities that foster social and emotional learning, socio-dramatic play and hands-on, experiential activities, including art and music. Many policymakers and school administrators say that in order to get children ready for testing in third grade, as dictated by the No Child Left Behind Act, they must begin earlier to introduce children to formal literacy and numeracy. They hope that these efforts will help children to achieve better scores and close the educational gap between low-income and/or at-risk children and others. There is an urgent need to help low-income and at-risk children catch up with others academically, and this challenge deserves the finest efforts this nation can make. But research indicates that current policies do not provide long-term gains for these students, and many child development experts predict that they will be detrimental to children. The Alliance for Childhood believes that, to educate young children well, early education programs should include the following elements: (1) Foster close relationships with adults who care for children and work with them over an extended period of time; (2) Respect the child's social and ethnic background and build on the child's own experiences in family and community, including language and culture; (3) Offer rich experiences of oral language, including conversation, storytelling, nursery rhymes, poetry, songs, and books read aloud; (4) Create learning environments that draw on children's innate curiosity; (5) Provide experiences that address the physical needs of the child, including development of the senses; (6) Create time and space for open-ended socio-dramatic play; (7) Provide opportunities for expression through the visual, musical, and dramatic arts; (8) Give children time for hands-on practical experiences of the world around them; (9) Take children outdoors where they can discover nature; and (10) Stimulate educators and care-givers to be knowledgeable and creative and to design curriculum, classroom environments, and activities by looking first at the overall needs of children and including parents in the educational process by encouraging the adults responsible for children to observe and describe children, share what they are learning and thinking about, and discuss their questions.
Descriptors: Child Development, Early Childhood Education, Preschool Evaluation, Emergent Literacy, Mental Health Programs, Historical Interpretation, Etiology, Instructional Development, Educational Improvement, Educational Innovation
Alliance for Childhood. P.O. Box 444, College Park, MD 20741. Tel: 301-779-1033; Fax: 301-779-1033; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.allianceforchildhood.net/
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Authoring Institution: Alliance for Childhood, College Park, MD.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001