Last week, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) hosted a great series of blog posts exploring the role of play in early childhood care and education. They were written by leading researchers and thinkers in early childhood education, people who have devoted their careers to understanding how children learn and what early experiences can help them on the way. They covered topics like long-term outcomes of play, how children spontaneously play with math concepts, and how play acts as hands-on experiential learning.
Perhaps my favorite was Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff’s post on playful learning. They describe the fierce debate that has raged between those who advocate for direct instruction for children and those who favor an open, constructivist model that is nearly entirely child-directed. Like so many debates in early childhood (and education, and psychology--remember nature vs. nurture?) evidence is emerging that the best experiences lie somewhere in the middle. The most effective preschool programs offer an enriching curriculum combined with lots of opportunities for hands on, child-centered play, and these programs are especially strong when the play is scaffolded carefully by an engaged, thoughtful teacher. To quote from their post:
“In guided play, learning remains child-directed. This is a key point. Children learn targeted information through exploration of a well-designed and structured environment ... and through the support of adults who ask open-ended questions to gently guide the child’s exploration.”
Is this information getting out to teachers and program directors? I think it is, although perhaps it has been a little slow going. I strongly recommend that you explore the whole series on the Preschool Matters...Today! website; it’s really thought-provoking and worth a read. And if you work with teachers who need to learn more about the central role they have in scaffolding learning during play, look into the online Introduction to the CLASS Tool or other professional development resources from Teachstone.
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How should you begin thinking of equity as a verb? What are the first steps for businesses and schools to take to create change? What steps can educators do within the classroom to be more mindful and culturally competent?
In today’s episode of Impacting the Classroom, you’ll hear a conversation between Dr. Darlene Estes-Del Re, Marnetta Larrimer, and Dr. Rosemarie Allen. Dr. Allen is the President and CEO of the Center for Equity and Excellence and has a 30-year background as an educational leader on a mission to ensure that all children can access high-quality, developmentally appropriate, and culturally appropriate early childhood programs.
Listen in to learn what the effects of the recent push for more equity have been, what an equity audit is, and how the American Rescue Plan funds can be used to support the effort for more equitable classrooms.
We often talk about the stressors educators face within the classroom - from tantrums to a lack of time for planning. But, what external factors are impacting educators, and what can we do to change them to create more meaningful learning experiences? We are excited to introduce our new podcast, Impacting the Classroom, to talk about these big topics in education.
Join our hosts, Darlene Estes-Del Re and Marnetta Larrimer as they bring together the researchers, policymakers, and educators who are making an impact in the field. Our first episode lays the groundwork for some of the larger themes that we'll dive into further over the next few weeks. Episodes are released biweekly and can be found on most major podcast platforms. Listen and subscribe today!
Creating a culture of continuous learning is critical to building educators’ abilities, confidence, and in creating consistency of quality teaching practices. But, this is no easy feat. Time constraints, access to relevant and quality professional development, and lack of learning communities are known barriers and have been found to impact teacher job satisfaction.
The good news is, that despite these challenges, there are opportunities to strengthen staff empowerment and to continue to build educators’ confidence to increase consistency of best practices.
“There’s been a positive wave of changes across the great state of Texas,” concluded Beja Williams, regional director at Teachstone, during Teachstone’s recent webinar, Focusing on Teacher-Child Interactions at Scale: A Look at Texas Rising Stars. “And, we are buckling up for a fun ride.”
Beja joined Darlene Estes, Teachstone’s senior director of strategic partnerships, and Nicole Allen, Child Care Contract Manager, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, Texas to talk about the latest changes improving the quality of education across Texas.