Archive for February 2006

Are We Improving?

Yesterday I got a new grandson. A cute little guy who will come home to two older sisters. As I was holding him in the hospital, I was thinking about how early childhood has evolved since my own children were infants. I wondered if we are improving as a nation in caring for our most active learners. Having worked in early childhood for almost 30 years, I have definitely seen highs and lows. There have been times that I have been encouraged by the promised commitment to early childhood only to be disappointed when the support wanes after a few years. I do, however, think that we are improving. Early childhood educators are getting the word out and studies are showing that investments in early childhood do pay off. I think that good parents nowadays are very good parents. There are a lot of resources for them that were unavailable to me. The mothers of my grandchildren know so much more than I did as a new parent. As I held that little guy yesterday, I was thinking how lucky he is to have caring, nurturing parents that have a solid knowledge of early childhood development. I wish all kids were that lucky.

Yes, I guess funding is an issue...

My suggestion in a previous post was that some of our early childhood woes come from lack of commitment on the part of our lawmakers. While I know this to be true, the ultimate lack of commitment comes from the top. Check out this article:

http://www.californiachronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=5550

President Bush used to call himself the "Education President." Now he is not even funding the big No Child Left Behind initiative that he started. Money is also being taken from Head Start and other early childhood programs. Just when we think we might be making headway in education, we always have a set-back. I know that lack of money does make it difficult for local officials to support education.

Road Map to Success

I have been writing an article for the magazine, "Early Childhood News." The article is about using preschool state standards, as well as Head Start Outcome indicators, to create a road map for the success of preschool children. While researching the article, I was again reminded why many early childhood teachers fear standards. Their fear comes from believing that they cannot create a developmentally appropriate classroom when there is a prescribed plan. I appreciated the new book by Carol Copple and Sue Bredekamp (2006), published by NAEYC, called, "Basics of Developmentally Appropriate Practice." I was happy that the authors explained that if the teacher is not following an organized plan of skills, the classroom is not developmentally appropriate. We must have a plan to help children grow developmentally. Following standards does not mean that every child is at the same point at the same time. As long as the approach to learning is developmentally appropriate, having a road map of skills will help a teacher create activities that support development. As mentioned in an earlier post, skills in developmental order create a great support for the classroom.