Yes They Can!

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write ever since I first read the Shanker Report  a few weeks ago.   The official name of the report is “Preschool Curriculum and What’s In It for Children and Teachers”.   The report is 32 pages long and if you don’t have time to read it in it’s entirety allow me to summarize for you:

Advances in cognitive science make it clear that very young children are capable of much more academically than was previously imagined.

The report also cites The National Research Council:

…a rich research base has provided insights … suggesting that more can be learned in the preschool years than was previously understood. 

These are words I have been waiting to hear/read for a very long time.  This is something I have always known in my heart to be true, but I didn’t dare speak aloud in the early childhood community.   I wanted to shout these words from the rooftop.  I actually printed the quotes and hung them on my wall.   In my overactive imagination I can hear crowds of similar minded teachers chanting “Yes They Can!” as they gather in the streets to celebrate.   Or perhaps I’m just getting the recent inauguration and my imagination confused…

One of the things EC teachers often take offense to is the fact that the students in my classroom were reading, not just the regular “pretend” reading that most young children do, but really reading and comprehending text on their level.  They thought I was a monster for exposing my students to such an offensive practice.   But the truth is that the children learned how to read naturally from the fun, interactive, and engaging activities we did in the classroom.  Nobody tied them into chairs and forced them to learn to read, as a matter of fact, my students very rarely ever sat in chairs at all.   There seem to be very few early childhood teachers who believe young children are capable of much more than just play and a few mindless worksheets.  I often wonder if I’m the only one out there who doesn’t believe gluing popcorn to the letter P is meaningless and provides no authentic learning of any sort.  I say death to popcorn and the letter P! 

So that brings me to my next question, who is going to tell the teachers?  Who among us shall be the first to break this joyous news?   I’ve been preaching the message to teachers for quite some time that young children CAN learn more.  Sometimes it feels like I’m preaching to the choir and sometimes- not so much.  What I do know is this, it’s not enough to just say the words, you have to actually show teachers it’s possible for children to accomplish more.   Then, and only then will they truly believe the message you are trying to share with them.   I guess seeing really is believing.  Check out this video below from a mom and her 3 year old.

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3 Responses

  1. Awesome ! I say down with the popcorn as well!

  2. Congratulations for having an interesting website. I like the videos and the articles featured. Thanks for all the information.

  3. I can only speak for myself but I definately believe that young children can and are capable. My only concern comes when we see reading as more important than social interactions, relationships, and creative expression. My hope is that we can value each child as they are uniquely learning and growing and look for how we can nurture each one as they deserve. Love your blog!

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