Posts tagged early childhood education

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten | TRUTH ABOUT EDUCATION

Play is essential in kindergarten – in fact in any child under the age of 5. Through play, children build literacy skills they need to be successful readers. By speaking to each other in socio-dramatic play, children use the language they heard adults read to them or say. This process enables children to find the meaning in those words.

There is a wide range of acceptable developmental levels in kindergarten; so a fluid classroom enables teachers to observe where each child is and adjust the curriculum accordingly. Two major studies confirmed the value of play vs. teaching reading skills to young children. Both compared children who learned to read at 5 with those who learned at 7 and spent their early years in play-based activities. Those who read at 5 had no advantage. Those who learned to read later had better comprehension by age 11, because their early play experiences improved their language development. Yet current educational policy banishes play in favor of direct instruction of inappropriate academic content and testing; practices that are ineffective for young children.

NPR: Closing The Achievement Gap With Baby Talk

In the mid-1960s, Betty Hart was a graduate student in child development working at a preschool in Kansas City, Kan. The preschool was for poor kids — really poor kids. Many came from troubled housing projects nearby.

But Hart was determined not to see their limitations, only their potential: Hart’s job was to teach these underprivileged kids how to speak like the children of her professors at the University of Kansas.

For years, she and university professor Todd Risley worked tirelessly toward this goal, doing everything they could think of to expand the vocabularies of these 4-year-olds. The idea was that if the kids could speak with the fluency of their wealthier peers across town, they might go on to similar academic achievements.

[…]

And so, starting in 1983 every month for three years, trained observers with recorders were sent to the homes of the families who had agreed to participate. There, they cataloged every utterance, endless hours of seemingly inconsequential babble.

Hart says it took close to 10 years to transcribe these tapes so they could be fed into a computer for analysis. But the results were worth it. Hart and Risley discovered many fascinating things about the differences between the way rich and poor families on average speak to their children.

But in the end, the finding that most struck people, Hart says, was not about the quality of the speech — how often rich versus poor parents asked questions or positively affirmed their children — but about the quantity.

According to their research, the average child in a welfare home heard about 600 words an hour while a child in a professional home heard 2,100.

The work that was done for this research is amazing.   NPR did a great job with this article.  This is important information for Early Childhood Educators and parents!