Linda Darling-Hammond writes a response to Betsy DeVos' proposal to use federal funds to put guns in schools. Find it here.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has just released a new report that strongly endorses the important role of play in the lives of young children. Entitled "The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development of Young Children," the report can be found here.
DEY's Statement About the American Academy of Pediatrics on Play
How thrilling to read the AAP’s comprehensive report on play! We at Defending the Early Years fully embrace its findings and recommendations which further support the work that we have been doing since our founding in 2012 to advocate for young children’s right to and need for play and its critical importance in the social, emotional, cognitive, and self-regulatory development of young children. Hopefully, policymakers will pay more attention, now that it has been recommended by AAP, and this report will help reverse the decades-long march toward more academics and little or no play in early childhood classrooms serving young children from birth through age eight. We at Defending the Early Years encourage concerned parents and educators to join us and other advocacy organizations, which we hope will include NAEYC, in speaking up, in no uncertain terms, about the importance of play in the healthy growth and development of young children.
Don't miss DEY's two-minute documentary series, Teachers Speak Out.
Find it here.
DEY'S POSITION STATEMENT: PRESCHOOLERS AND THE NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS ON APRIL 20
Students, parents, teachers and citizens from across the country will participate in the National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools on April 20th. Preschoolers and their parents can be part of this day, too.
For younger children, the emphasis of the day should be a positive one—we march to make sure that schools are safe and fun places for everyone. Parents can emphasize that we don’t want guns to be in schools or any place where there are children.
Young children see the world in concrete terms, and they need to have a sense of safety and security. We can emphasize to them that we are marching on this day is to keep them and all children safe. Seeing all the people who are marching for the same thing can feel very empowering to a child. She can begin to feel the strength and inspiration that comes from social action.
Young kids will enjoy any concrete activities that we can offer to them around this day of action. Many will like making signs. We can give them markers and poster paper, scissors, construction paper and glue, and help them draw or make a simple sign to carry.
There will be some young children on this day of action who spend some of their play time in good guy/bad guy play, maybe even using pretend guns. The meaning of this day could confuse those children or make them feel guilty for a kind of play they really like. Parents can acknowledge the difference between “real” guns and “pretend” ones, emphasizing that real guns can hurt people, but that pretend ones don’t. For more information on this complicated topic, see The War Play Dilemma by Diane Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige.
It’s hard to protect children completely from hearing about real world violence, and some will have heard something about mass school shootings. Making sense of what they hear about violence in the world can be confusing for children. One of the best means they have for making sense of what they have heard is through pretend play. We can encourage and support children’s play, and we can watch carefully for signs of what any given child might be expressing as their play. For guidelines on supporting play and listening and talking with children about violence in the news, please see Guidelines for “When the World Is a Dangerous Place: Caring for Children in Violent Times” by Dr. Diane Levin.
"A DEY shout-out to early childhood activists who testified on Monday, March 12 at a meeting of Philadelphia's City Council’s Education committee where they are working on creating standards for early childhood education in Philadelphia. Read Karel Kilmnick's testimony below - and check out the link to the blog Wrench in the Gears for video and more details."
KAREL KILMNICK'S TESTIMONY:
Good afternoon to everyone. I am Karel Kilimnik, a retired Early Childhood teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Phila Public Schools. When I retired I was teaching kindergarten and horrified at what I was expected to do. Instead of a play-oriented, hands-on, discovery approach my students were brutally forced into relentless assessments, enforced sitting for too long as I was supposed to follow highly scripted curriculums, my blocks & easel were banished as was project time where children could chose what they wanted to do and play with others as they explored a rich environment. Please note that the Common Core ECE Standards were not developed by any Educators.
Young children learn by playing. I have included links to articles and research documenting this fact. I hope that you take time to read them as you develop early childhood standards for our students. Defending the Early Years is a national organization focused on developmentally-appropriate Early Childhood practice. Their articles document why standards and standardized testing are inappropriate for young children. Fred Rogers stated that play is the work of children. In the short and long term, play benefits cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Children learn as they discuss problems, negotiate, analyze, make mistakes, experiment, collaborate and cooperate with each other. Play provides an opportunity for teachers to observe critical thinking skills of their students. Play leads to creativity, capacity for problem-solving and love of learning. How does a child approach and solve problems? Children use many mathematical and scientific concepts as they negotiate their way. Building blocks provide multiple opportunities to foster beginning mathematical skills as children experiment with construction. It is up to teachers to provide them with a rich environment filled with many opportunities to explore. A literacy-rich environment filled with books, magazines, posters, signs, and recipes creates a desire to learn how to interpret and read. In my class we always had an assortment of insects, hosted an annual embryology project, went on fieldtrips from the local post office to the Art Museum, discussed and wrote about everything we did. Young children need hands-on experiences. That is how they learn. Look at kindergarten in Finland where play guides everything. You have an article in front of you from the Atlantic about kindergarten in Finland. Outside play, inside areas such as housekeeping, ice cream store, hospital all provide opportunities for children to learn and develop skills they will use as they progress through life.
I do have one question Councilwoman Blackwell…is there a way our contact info can be collected so that we are notified of future Ed Committee meetings?
The Atlantic/ Joyful Kindergartners of Finland
Defending the Early Years (DEY) Resources
DEY Fact Sheet on why testing harms young children
DEY Report – How School Reforms Are Failing Low-Income Young Children
Dr Constance Kamii’s (Univ Alabama @ Birmingham), internationally recoginized ECE expert’s paper on from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Grades K-3:
My Reasons for Not Supporting Them
DEY Report Reading Instruction in Kindergarten Little to Gain, Much to Lose
In 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development proposed an assessment of early learning outcomes called the International Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study. The proposal was made with little consultation with large facets of the early childhood community. In response to this international trend for increasing formal early childhood assessment that is gaining traction, Defending the Early Years releases the following statement:
Ignoring early childhood educators, researchers and scholars in making early education policy is not new, but the scale of this latest effort in the Global Education Reform Movement for young children is a frightening development. PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) has been used to test 15 year-olds since 2000. The new International Early Learning and Child Well-being study (IELS)- dubbed “Baby PISA” - will focus on testing 5 year-olds on narrow academic skills achievement.
The impact on the field of early childhood, already contorted by policies that push early academics and eradicate play, will be disastrous. If Baby PISA gains a foothold, we’ll see more of what we have already endured: more standardization, more academic drills, and more testing. And, we’ll see less of what we have already been losing: less of the arts, less play, less child choice, and less active, hands-on, developmentally meaningful learning. And we will see more children disaffected with school at younger and younger ages.
We early educators in the U.S. need to follow the lead of early childhood communities in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, and Denmark and speak up in protest against the IELS and advocate for appropriate and developmentally meaningful learning.
For more information on Baby PISA please see Baby PISA is Just Around the Corner. So Why is No One Talking About It? Published December 5th, 2017, by Susan Ochshorn, of ECE PolicyWorks.
To view the Live Steamed broadcast of DEY's Annual Organizing meeting during the 2017 NAEYC Annual Conference in Atlanta, see below>
Speakers, in order, included:
Above: Participants in DEY's Annual Organizing meeting came from all over the country including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
sBackpack Full of Cash was shown at the recent Progressive Education Network Conference in Boston. Following the showing, DEY's Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Denisha Jones discussed their reactions to the film.
Read their blog post on the PEN website by clicking here.
by Susan Linn (published in the 9-27-17 issue of the Los Angeles Times)
DEY's Senior Advisor, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, and her son, Matt Damon, participated in the recent screening of Backpack Full of Cash. The film explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America's most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, it takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of education "reform" where public education - starved of resources and awash in standardized testing - hangs in the balance.
The Boston premier screening, sponsored by Citizens for Public Schools,, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and Defending the Early Years, was was shown to a capacity audience at the Wheelock College Family Theater on September 13. After the film, there was a roundtable discussion, featuring Dr. Carlsson-Paige, Damon (a product of the Boston Public Schools), CCFC's Josh Golin, and Boston Teachers' Union President, Jessica Tang, and Boston student activist, Luis Navarro.
To host a screening at your school, organization, or community, click here.