ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative has launched a series of podcasts on a number of issues important to the full development of a child’s potential in school. I was fortunate to be a part of their most recent podcast which focused on early childhood education. The title of the podcast was: ”Early Childhood Education: Balancing Expectations and What Young Learners Really Need.” I was joined in this podcast by several experts in the field of early childhood education:
- Laura Bornfreund, a senior policy analyst for the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative.
- Walter McKenzie, a lifelong learner, teacher, leader, and connector, and director of Constituent Services for ASCD.
- Jennifer Orr, a 1st-grade teacher at Annandale Terrace Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va., and ASCD Emerging Leader.
- Wendy Ostroff, 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.
The focus of our discussion was on the pressure placed on early childhood educators to prepare preK-3 children for the academic expectations of the higher grades, which flies in the face of research in early childhood education that points to play, multi-sensory experiences, collaboration, and active problem-solving as the developmentally appropriate approach that students should be having at this age. I was heartened to hear this panel of experts all share their concerns that young children are being pushed too quickly into academic ”achievement oriented” activities, and that more emphasis needs to be placed on social, emotional, creative, and cognitive learning (through playful activities) which then can provide a solid foundation for later academic learning.