Topics in Early Childhood Education

Friday, September 23, 2005

Money, money, money...

I was recently reading another blog, "Education on the Brink" ( about funding issues in education. Right now the discussion is centered on temporary financial assistance to the hurricane-ravaged South. A plan is necessary to get the thousands of displaced children back in school.
I think this situation has a lot to do with our crisis in early childhood education. We seem to throw money toward "quick fixes" to temporarily help certain early childhood sites. The fact remains, as I mentioned in an earlier entry, that early childhood educators and workers are grossly underpaid. This creates a serious situation when we expect these early childhood care-givers to guarantee the child is prepared for kindergarten. Somehow we need to provide long term financial assistance for early childhood educators to obtain a college degree and acquire the skills to understand the development of children. Teachers with these skills tend to create classroom atmospheres that are developmental and support the skills research indicates are appropriate for preschool children. Money placed in early childhood programs will reap rewards throughout the education system.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Appropriate Preschool Standards

In my last entries, I mentioned how preschool assessment is here to stay. Knowing that assessment or monitoring must occur, it is also appropriate to know what skills are being assessed. Most states have recently created or updated their preschool standards reflecting current researched practices, particularly in language, literacy and mathematics. Through checking many current state standards, I find that the required skills are generally the same for preschool throughout the country. Occasionally an off-the-wall standard appears, but usually the indicators are very similar. The one problem I see in some state standards, as well as federal Head Start standards, is that many times the skills are not listed in the devleopmental order that they should be introduced and mastered. Hopefully, state school programs, early childhood organizations and early childhood curriculum authors will provide some guidance on skills that have a developmental order of mastery.
I had a 'reality check' while visiting a Head Start classroom. The teacher was having the children sponge paint a pattern. It was evident to me, after observing for 30 mintues, that the children had no idea about creating or repeating a pattern. I asked the teacher if she had done any classification/sorting activities (a necessary skill in order to create a pattern). She replied, "No. We will do some classification activities sometime this year." When I looked at her curriculum plan it was evident that the skills were all randomly placed within each domain. This is why I think it is necessary to make sure any standards are placed in the appropriate order and sequence.