Teaching Young Children: An Introduction


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Review how existing program types meet the needs of the preschool child and teacher, as well as the criteria of a quality learning environment. Emphasizes relationships between teacher and child. Includes field observations. Applies toward Title 22 Regulations and Title 5 Child Development Permits; core required course for Basic Core Certificate; transferrable for unit credit toward bachelor's degree at all University of California UC campuses; accepted for unit, subject, and grade toward bachelor's degree at all California State University system CSU campuses.


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Summer Schedule. These courses are fully online, and there are no in-person classroom meetings. July 15, - September 8, Instructor: Jackie Kelley. Internet access required. Materials required. Enrollment Closed. Skills are infused and taught in context—through project work, for example. Donna Siegel, an associate professor of education at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, is a stout supporter of teaching basic skills to young children, especially the disadvantaged. Children who aren't exposed to literacy at home need to be taught basic decoding, she believes.

Children from middle-class backgrounds fare better with less direct teaching because their parents teach them basics such as the alphabet, she says. Siegel is concerned that an emphasis on allowing children to explore and discover may leave them unprepared academically. Young children learn basic skills much faster through direct instruction or modeling than through exploration, Siegel says. Further, adults can teach academics to young children without harming their disposition to learn, she believes. The teacher should explain in a step-by-step fashion, help pupils along, and keep them trying.

If a child can read on entering 1st grade, he or she is more likely to have success all through school, Siegel says. Bredekamp believes formal reading instruction, such as phonics drill, is not appropriate until 1st grade, and then only when needed.

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She too is concerned about disadvantaged children, but she diagnoses their needs differently. In particular, they should be read to constantly. Too often, children who have not been exposed to literacy at home get only the alphabet and phonics at school, Bredekamp says. Children who are exposed to literacy in many ways outside of school can better weather a decontextualized skills approach, she says. Experts in early childhood education agree that teaching in a developmentally appropriate way is more demanding than traditional, lecture-driven teaching.

Teachers must be experimenters, willing to try different means to reach a child, sensitive to the fact that children respond differently to materials and strategies. Making this shift is difficult for some veteran teachers who are used to being the focal point. Elkind, however, cautions that we must allow a wide range of teaching styles, because some teachers are more at home with direct instruction. Often, this preference is a matter of temperament, he believes—not a reflection of training and habit.

Some younger teachers prefer teaching in the traditional way, he notes. And some children need more structure. Given the challenging nature of developmentally appropriate teaching, it's not surprising that experts underscore the need for better teacher training. Child development needs to be seen as an integral part of education courses, says Shirle Moone Childs, director of curriculum and instruction for the Windham Public Schools in Willimantic, Conn.

Like curriculum and instruction, assessment practices should be developmentally appropriate, experts agree. For many reasons, paper-and-pencil assessments of young children tend to be inaccurate, Elkind says. Children are not very good with symbols; they tend not to understand—or follow—instructions well; and their mood can greatly affect their performance.

Fortunately, there are many observational ways to assess children, Elkind says. Their use of language is very revealing, for example. Similarly, if they play games with rules, they have grasped syllogistic reasoning. Teachers need to be close observers of young children, experts agree. Kindergarten teacher Michelotti says she devotes much of her time to observing and evaluating her pupils. Good ways to assess young pupils include observation, portfolios, and interviews, says Bredekamp.

Instead, she believes, the influence ought to flow in the opposite direction: assessment should resemble good instruction.

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Introduction to Teaching Young Children

Over the course of each child's K-2 school career, pieces of student work and other indicators are collected in the portfolio see sidebar, p. Teachers do not collect exactly the same information on every child more is collected on children who appear to be having difficulties , but what is the same is standardized through a six-point scale. The school's program is validated when parents see the progress their children are making in writing and spelling. But use of portfolios alone to assess what children know is not adequate, cautions Rosegrant.

Teaching Young Children: An Introduction, 6th Edition

Instead, teachers must allow children to demonstrate their learning in a variety of modes. For example, after a science exploration on weather, children could show what they learned through writing, creating charts, or building a model.

Teaching Young Children An Introduction 5th Edition

Developmentally appropriate teaching can sometimes be a hard sell with parents, many of whom find the break with tradition disturbing. To give parents confidence in a developmentally appropriate program, educators need to spend time with them, helping them understand what they see in their children's work, Zimmerman says. It's very hard to do. They use Voice-mail and leave messages almost daily.

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And they must show parents, all along, that their children are learning more than they would in a more traditional program. Teachers do a disservice by not communicating with parents at least weekly, Feare says. Teachers at her school send home a newsletter. If parents are kept informed, and their children are happy in school, parents are satisfied, she says.


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  • Despite the consensus among early childhood educators that developmentally appropriate practice is best for young children, obstacles loom between theory and practice. For example, rather than buying 30 desks, a school might purchase several tables and some hands-on materials. For Rosegrant, the main obstacle lies in the lockstep curriculums from publishers, which meet the needs of so few children, yet are so expensive. Yet another obstacle, says Feare, is the tyranny of the expectations of the teacher at the next level, who might complain that incoming children were not well prepared.

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    New to This Edition. Overview of the Profession 2. Historical Contexts 3. Understanding How a Child Develops and Learns 5. Play in Childhood 6. Guiding Young Children 7. Working with Families and Communities 8. Planning the Physical Environment: Indoors Planning the Physical Environment: Outdoors Health and Wellness Supporting Emotional and Social Development Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Learning Language and Literacy Learning The Creative Arts Share a link to All Resources.

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