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What does "education" mean for our youngest learners? The first years of school are as important for an educated population as any other period, perhaps more. Additionally, research shows that implementation of high-quality preschool programs can be beneficial for the lifelong development of children in low-income families and that an upfront commitment to early education provides returns to society that are many times more valuable than the original investment.
With the current focus on standards and academic achievement, is learning and testing coming too early? Curriculum and assessment should be based on the best knowledge of theory and research about how children develop and learn, with attention given to individual children's needs and interests within a group and in relation to program goals. In this episode, we discuss the importance of early childhood education and the specific social, cognitive, and emotional needs these learners have that are different from those of older learners. You'll hear from
- Thomas Armstrong is an award-winning author and speaker with more than 40 years of teaching experience from the primary through the doctoral level. More than 1 million copies of his books are in print on issues related to learning and human development, including the 2012 ASCD book, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Achieve Success in School and Life.
- Laura Bornfreund is a senior policy analyst for the New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative. Bornfreund examines early education (birth through grade 3) studies and policies and researches and writes original policy papers. She contributes to Early Ed Watch, the Early Education Initiative's blog, writing on a variety of education policy topics including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; federal education grant programs; teacher preparation, retention, and support; kindergarten; and early childhood assessment.
- Walter McKenzie is a lifelong learner, teacher, leader, and connector. A director of Constituent Services for ASCD, McKenzie served 25 years in public education as a classroom teacher, instructional technology coordinator, director of technology, and assistant superintendent for information services. He is internationally known for his work on multiple intelligences and technology and has published various books and articles on the subject.
- Jennifer Orr is a 1st-grade teacher at Annandale Terrace Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va. A National Board Certified Teacher in middle childhood, Orr has taught 4th, 5th, and 1st grades since 1998. In 2012 she received the International Society for Technology in Education's Kay L. Bitter Vision Award for being a K–2 educator bringing technology into the classroom effectively and with innovation. She is also an ASCD Emerging Leader and member of its 2013 class.
- Wendy Ostroff is a cognitive psychology, child development, and metacognition expert and author of the 2012 ASCD book, Understanding How Young Children Learn: Bringing the Science of Child Development to the Classroom. Ostroff has been developing curricula on children’s learning for the past 15 years in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University; in the Department of Education and Child Study at Smith College; and, most recently, as associate professor in the program for the Advancement of Learning at Curry College.
If early childhood is where we begin to build skills and behaviors such as persistence, empathy, collaboration, and problem solving, are we teaching in developmentally appropriate ways?