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April 12, 2010

Teachers Researching Teaching

Boy_In_Tree The National Association for Educating Young Children has been a resource for best practices with young children since the 1920s. NAEYC can be counted on to publish useful research for people helping little people. Recently, I came across several papers published by NAEYC that show early childhood through the eyes of the classroom-focused researcher. It is a collection of research conducted by pre-k teachers and administrators conducted in their own classrooms.  Right away you can tell the flavor of this research is going to be more like good ol' home cooking than the complicated gourmet usually presented by the economic researchers like Janet Currie and Steven Barnett that we know and love in Pre-K Now.
Don't get me wrong, this is serious research about the environment, social justice, and child psychology -- all important issues. But with titles like "Exploring the Forest: Wild Places in Childhood"  , "If I Were President: Teaching Social Justice in the Primary Classroom", "Do You Want to See Something Goofy? Peer Culture in the Preschool Yard", you can be sure that each read will have less of the wonky language prominent in heavier works. 

Here is an excerpt from Anna Golden's "Exploring the Forest" that makes me want to run, not walk, to my local pre-k to see what they are doing with nature.
The preschoolers leave the school building and wait, pressing up against the playground gate. When I open the gate, they take off like horses let out of a stable where they have been shut in too long. I follow behind them, trying to keep up in the bumpy and overgrown forest.
All the talk about long-term and economic benefits of pre-k aside, these pre-k teachers remind us that there is something to learn from our youngest students.


Great read!

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