University of Illinois report: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children

12 Apr

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of lifelong learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reported in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.
Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, professor emerita at Lesley University and an author of several books; Diane E. Levin, professor of early childhood education at Wheelock College; and Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, founding teacher at the Mission Hill School in Roxbury, Ma., as well as the director of the Defending the Early Years coalition and founder of Empowered by Play wrote a provocative Washington Post article. In, How ed policy is hurting early childhood education, Carlsson-Paige, Levin, Bywater McLauglin opine:

1. Current standards are not based on knowledge of child development — both how children learn and what they learn.
The standards require that children learn specific facts and skills — such as naming the letters — at specified ages. This has led to more teacher-directed “lessons,” less play-based activity and curriculum, and more rote teaching and learning as children try to learn what is required.
Yet decades of research and theory tell us that young children learn best through active learning experiences within a meaningful context. Children develop at individual rates, learn in unique ways, and come from a wide variety of cultural and language backgrounds. It is not possible to teach skills in isolation or to mandate what any young child will understand at any particular time.

2. Current policies support an over-emphasis on testing and assessment at the expense of all other aspects of early childhood education.
Already strapped for time and money, schools turn valuable attention and resources toward preparing teachers to administer and score tests and assessments rather than meet the needs of the whole child. As teachers strive to raise test scores, they increasingly depend on scripted curricula designed to teach what is on the tests. We know, however, that children learn best when skilled and responsive teachers observe them closely and provide curriculum tailored to meet each child’s needs. Standardized tests of any type do not have a place in early childhood education, and should not be used for making decisions about young children or their programs. Individualized assessments of each child’s abilities, interests and needs provide teachers with the information they require to individualize teaching and learning.

3. Cumulatively, current policies are promoting a de-professionalization of teachers.
The growing focus on standards and testing disregards the strong knowledge base early childhood teachers have. It undermines teachers’ ability to teach using their professional expertise, to provide the optimal, individualized learning opportunities they know how to offer. Instead, teachers are often required to follow prescribed curricula taught in lock step to all children. At the same time, more teachers without strong backgrounds in early childhood education are being hired, increasing the dependence of teachers on standardized tests and scripted curricula.

As one of their first initiatives, Defending the Early Years (DEY) is conducting a national survey of early childhood professionals — teachers, child care workers, program and school directors — on the ways their work is currently affected by federal, state, and local policies, such as standards for learning and mandated tests. Responses are anonymous. The data are being collected and tabulated by an independent opinion research firm. The results of this research will be used to inform the efforts of the DEY group to advocate for more child-centered, humane, and effective policies in the education and care of young children.

The Defending the Early Years group has a blog

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reported in Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children:

The debate about appropriate curriculum for young children generally centers on two options: free play and basic activities vs. straight academics (which is what many kindergartens across the country have adopted, often reducing or eliminating time for play).

A new report, “Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children,” offers a new way to look at what is appropriate in early childhood education.
The report was written by Lilian G. Katz, professor emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is on the staff of the Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting. She is past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the first president of the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children. Katz is currently the editor of the online peer-reviewed trilingual early childhood journal Early Childhood Research & Practice, and she is the author of more than 100 publications about early childhood education, teacher education, child development and the parenting of young children.

In her report, published by the nonprofit group Defending the Early Years, Katz says that beyond free play and academics, “another major component of education – (indeed for all age groups) must be to provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources and contexts that will provoke, stimulate, and support children’s innate intellectual dispositions.” As the title of the paper indicates, Katz makes a distinction between academic goals for young children and intellectual goals….

Here is the blog post from Defending the Early Years regarding their report, Lively Minds:

Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children
Posted on April 9, 2015

In the wake of the Common Core academic push down on America’s kindergartners, a new report by Lilian G. Katz argues that excessive and early formal instruction can be damaging to our youngest children in the long term. Today, Defending the Early Years is proud to release Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children.

Author Lillian G. Katz, Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois, argues that the common sense notion that “earlier is better” is not supported by longitudinal studies of the effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models. Furthermore, her report maintains that a narrow academic curriculum does not recognize the innate inquisitiveness of young children and ultimately fails to address the way they learn.
“Young children enter the classroom with lively minds–with innate intellectual dispositions toward making sense of their own experience, toward reasoning, predicting, analyzing, questioning and learning,” says Dr. Katz.

“But in our attempt to quantify and verify children’s learning, we impose premature formal instruction on kids at the expense of cultivating their true intellectual capabilities – and ultimately their optimal learning.”

While the report concludes that an appropriate curriculum for young children is one that focuses on supporting children’s in-born intellectual dispositions, some basic academic instruction in early years is needed. “Academic skills become necessary for students to understand and report on their own authentic investigations,” explains Katz. “These skills can then serve as a means to the greater end of fostering and advancing children’s intellectual capabilities.”

Watch and share this video about this new report!
Download and read the full report here: Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children
Help us spread the word about the importance of intellectual pursuits for young children using social media!
Consider tweeting:
#CCSS replaces wonder with worksheets, investigation with memorization. Preserve the lively minds of children!
Premature academic instruction comes at a cost for youngest students @dey_project #2much2soon
Earlier is not better. The lively minds of children are dulled by mindless bubble filling @dey_project #2much2soon.
We are rethinking academic vs. intellectual goals. Earlier is not always better. @dey_project #2much2soon

Our goals should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©
Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs that foster intellectual development is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

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