April 10, 2014
Preparing Children for a Lifetime of Learning
Many parents have valid concerns about how to insure their pre-kindergarten children are successful in Kindergarten. Sometimes it is confusing and difficult to decide which program is best for their child. The public schools are now offering transitional kindergarten and planning for all four year olds to participate. They insist this will prepare children for future learning. They quote research stating that preschool makes a significant difference in children’s future school success. But, they are leaving a crucial component. *Only Quality Preschool makes a difference. So what does quality look like?
Quality requires a special “developmentally appropriate” curriculum, such as our *High/Scope Preschool curriculum that encourages a wide array of developmental activities, and that encompasses all aspects of child development, and which teachers are well trained to implement.
- Quality requires low teacher-child ratios and caring teachers who know how to support young children to insure they do not become discouraged, yet encourages them to go to the next level.
- Quality demands age-appropriate indoor environments that provide a wide array of learning possibilities with hands-on activities from counting and the alphabet, to block building and dramatic play.
- Quality allows children’s choices so they feel empowered while learning vital lessons such as how to engage in cooperative play and decision making.
- Quality encourages learning important concepts (such as counting, science, and small motor activities) within small-groups where children have immediate feed-back from teachers who ask open-ended questions and promotes independent discovery.
- Quality allows children to engage in activities that are meaningful to them, sparks their curiosity, and respects their developmental level.
- Quality requires outdoor environments that are matched to children’s levels of development, that are challenging enough to enhance their physical abilities and also encourages creative play with many possibilities for sandbox and dramatic play.
- Quality requires that caring teachers support children through conflict resolution in order to help them learn essential skills for maintaining friendships and cooperative work and play.
This is a demanding list. But The Child Day Schools’ research based curriculum and our well-trained teachers utilize these **quality indicators to support all children every day within our various programs. This level of quality is the result of years of dedication and commitment to understanding how young children learn. Our administrators insure that the children enrolled in our schools have the finest developmentally appropriate learning experiences possible from our nurturing and caring staff.
* See The High/Scope Curriculum’s website Research and Studies: http://www.highscope.org/Content.asp?ContentId=223
** See The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Position Statement on Early Childhood Standards and Best Practices on their website: http://www.naeyc.org/positionstatements
December 13, 2013
From R. Ann Whitehead, MS Educational Psychology,
The Child Day Schools, LLC
The toys we choose for children may have a major impact on their future abilities. Single dimensional toys, such as those that speak, move on their own, or can be used in only one way do not encourage children to use their own imagination or problem-solve.
Children’s imagination is a rich mine for developing their innate creativity, flexibility and problem solving. Creativity and dramatic play are tied together in important ways. They broaden children’s perspectives and encourage them to explore many possibilities. Open-ended toys can help children learn about themselves and gives them confidence that they can succeed.
Also consider goals you have for your children as you shop for toys. Some video games have educational components while others may encourage children to be aggressive. Although many hone children’s quick responses, they can also have negative consequences. Children who constantly use these devices may become accustomed to instant feedback and gratification. Many studies indicate that constant video use may interfere with children’s ability to learn to read and/or process information.
Obviously these games are part of our environment, and children will inevitably want to play these games. But, it is important to limit the time children play with these devices. Creative and dramatic play must have priority to insure that children are actively engaged in activities that promote their curiosity, problem-solving and self-expression.
Toys that stimulate children’s curiosity and creativity:
- Blocks of various sizes and within many contexts, such blocks that create houses or towns, etc. for both girls and boys.
- Toy trains, trucks, cars, buses, emergency vehicles, etc.
- Art materials, paints, play dough, colored pencils, colored pens, blunt scissors, paper of various colors.
- Stuffed animals other objects, puppets, etc.
- Dolls of various sizes and contexts, culturally different (such as a Native American doll) baby dolls, children dolls, boy dolls, character dolls, play houses, play kitchens with some utensils.
- Legos, toy logs and other toys that encourage children to build and create on their own with dolls and other accessories.
- Books with various stories not just commercial books, like Disney, but with varied stories that are both fun and informative, such as the Dr. Suess books, the Hungry Caterpillar, Velveteen Rabbit, etc. Also, non-fiction books for young children with realistic pictures that children can easily understand.
- Toys that requires more than one child to play, board games, card games, etc.
- Any toys that can be used in various ways and encourage children to use their own ideas.
Warm Holiday Wishes to You and Your Families, from Ann Whitehead & Staff of The Child Day Schools
August 10, 2011
Transitional Kindergarten Legislation
R. Ann Whitehead, M.A. Educational Psychology
We know the legislatures changed the birth date for kindergarten entrance from December 2nd to September 2nd. The change is to occur over three years, beginning in November of 2012, then October of 2013 so that by 2014, all children will have to be five by September 2nd. The legislature also mandated that transitional kindergarten programs be offered to children whose birthdates fall between December 2nd and September 2nd.
Why did the legislature take transitional kindergarten away from the field of early childhood education where it has been for the last thirty years?
Legislators told us they assumed that transitional kindergarten would be provided by those in the early childhood care and education. However, The powerful Kindergarten Teachers Association lobbied them to demand that the public schools would be mandated to provide transitional kindergarten programs. This was done not for what is best for children but in order to maintain jobs for kindergarten teachers. Although the mandate is to begin in 2012 many public schools are quickly gearing up to provide these programs next fall.
Why is developmentally appropriate curriculum important?
Developmentally appropriate requires that teachers tailor the curriculum to the developmental level of the group. It also requires hands-on learning which allows children to problem solve, hone their skills and begin to understand the world around them. It allows children to:
- — manipulate counters and other objects to understand various math concepts,
- — create simple science experiments for hypothesizing and discovery,
- — problem solve using a variety of open-ended materials,
- — use dramatic play as a way to learn how to interact with others, explore family relationships and to deal with stressful situations within their lives,
- — have many opportunities to use their creativity to express their unique visions and their personal views of the world
Why public schools cannot provide developmentally appropriate curriculum.
Public school transitional kindergarten will have the same teachers and ratios (1 teacher to 24 to 30 children) and in the end be only watered down versions of kindergarten. Having children sit at desks and do dittos and other paperwork bores them or can create stress in youngsters when they cannot be successful. Instead of increasing their academic success, many of these students will become discouraged or resistant in their future schools years.
The basic idea of changing the age requirement to September was to insure children were mature enough to meet the demands of the elementary school curriculum. Many public schools insist their programs will be developmentally appropriate. But, experts agree the public schools do not have the financial resources to implement genuine developmentally appropriate programs.
August 9, 2011
POSITION PAPER ON TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS
By R. Ann Whitehead, Masters Educational Psychology
Transitional kindergarten (T-K) or junior kindergarten is a crucial time for preparing children for the rigors of elementary school. We know that research has proven that quality preschools create substantial gains for children entering elementary education.
Unfortunately, most of those gains are lost by 3rd grade because eventually public school lost the child.
Private preschool providers have been the experts in educating and caring for young children since World War II. Many of these programs meet the challenging quality guidelines of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)’s best practices. The bottom line for these programs is what is best for children.
Young Transitional Kindergarteners need nurturing teachers who encourage them to explore, discover and question. However, public T-K programs will be watered down versions of kindergarten with 26 to 30 children to one teacher, with little time for individual student attention. These youngsters can easily become discouraged and decide that school is a frightening place where they can never be successful.
At The Child Day Schools we take the responsibility for Transitional Kindergarten very seriously. We provide activities that are developmentally appropriate and give students time to learn . Nurturing teachers plan a wide range of activities, including language, phonics, math as well as science and creativity. They help children resolve conflicts and develop empathy for each other. Also, all our programs meet the demanding standards of NAEYC’s best practices.
Comparison of The Child Day Schools Transitional K Programs with Public Schools:
||The Child Day Schools
||1 teacher for 10 to 14 children
||1 teacher for 26 to 30 children
||Reading readiness, math, science, social studies, music, art
||Reading readiness, math, some social studies
||Teachers understand students’ needs,
each child has attention within the ratios
|No time, all expectations are the same
||Students receive help in conflict resolution, empathy is encouraged
||No time to support student
||Teachers provide support where children can explore and learn
||No time to take this into account
||Wide variety of materials for exploration and investigation
||Work books, some limited manipulatives
||Play equipment for younger kids,
teacher ratios 1 to 10 – 14
|Play equipment geared for older kids,
teacher ratios 1 to 30 or more