A bold challenge to the conventional wisdom about early childhood, with a pragmatic program to encourage parents and teachers to rethink how and where young children learn best by taking the child's eye view of the learning environment
Parents of young children today are embattled: Pick the "wrong" preschool and your child won't get into the "right" college. But our fears are misplaced, according to Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis. Children are powerful and inventive; and the tools to reimagine their learning environment are right in front of our eyes.
Children are hardwired to learn in any setting, but they don't get the support they need when "learning" is defined by strict lessons and dodgy metrics that devalue children's intelligence while placing unfit requirements on their developing brains. We have confused schooling with learning, and we have altered the very habitat young children occupy. The race for successful outcomes has blinded us to how young children actually process the world, acquire skills, and grow, says Christakis, who powerfully defends the preschool years as a life stage of inherent value and not merely as preparation for a demanding or uncertain future.
In her path-breaking book, Christakis explores what it's like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults. With school-testing mandates run amok, playfulness squeezed, and young children increasingly pathologized for old-fashioned behaviors like daydreaming and clumsiness, it's easy to miss what's important about the crucial years of three to six, and the kind of guidance preschoolers really need. Christakis provides a forensic and far-reaching analysis of today's whole system of early learning, exploring pedagogy, history, science, policy, and politics. She also offers a wealth of proven strategies about what to do to reimagine the learning environment to suit the child's real, but often invisible, needs. The ideas range from accommodating children's sense of time, to decluttering classrooms, to learning how to better observe and listen as children express themselves in pictures and words.
With her strong foundation in the study of child development and early education and her own in-the-trenches classroom experience, Christakis peels back the mystery of early childhood, revealing a place that's rich with possibility. Her message is energizing and reassuring: Parents have more power (and more knowledge) than they think they do, and young children are inherently creative and will flourish, if we can learn new ways to support them and restore their vital learning habitat.
©2016 Erika Christakis (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
This book explains what I think is common sense really, but gives some meaning behind it. I am in the process of choosing a preschool and never liked the ones that didn't let the kids play outside because of time constraints or because they are too academic. Basically letting kids be kids with some active engagement is best. Thanks for such a well written book that was definitely needed.
The author will take you back to your own childhood in ways that will amuse and challenge you. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher or early childhood specialist teaching the teachers, there is substance, inspiration and encouragement to be found in this book. It is written in a conversational and intimate style that lends itself to a relationship with the author. In this way Ms. Christakis proves her point as she teaches and enlightens through story and building a relationship of trust. This sugar does make the medicine go down by clearly showing the pitfalls of our current system. Still, the book needs a sequel. I was left wanting even more of what her perfect educational environment would look like with skin on. After all, the proof is really in the pudding's eating. This book was definitely worth the read and left me wanting more.
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