November 11, 2015
2:00 pm Eastern Time
Human Development Consultant
Western Kentucky University
This session is sponsored by the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership.
Why has publicly funded early childhood education failed so miserably in its efforts to prepare children for school? Why does the achievement gap not only persist but continue to grow wider? It’s not a mystery really. We continue to act as if what separates children from low income families from their more affluent peers is simply
• a list of facts – colors shapes, numbers, letters, etc.
• a list of skills – printing one’s name, sitting and listening, lining up, raising hands, and
• an early introduction to literacy and the mysteries of decoding print.
But we know better. If it were merely the “Kindergarten checklist” that separated rich and poor children, then by now the ranks of our college applicants would be swelled with the disadvantaged and our honor rolls expanded to include those most marginalized.
But what separates rich and poor is not a list of facts and skills. It is instead the quality and quantity of experiences necessary for maximum brain development. Most important of these are experiences with language. We have known since the mid-nineties that affluent children are exposed to much more language and enter Kindergarten with much higher language skills than disadvantaged children. We also know that proficiency in using language is a prerequisite for proficiency in reading and writing.
So let us begin develop a definition of school readiness that reflects our understanding of the critical need for language development and language rich experiences. In order to do so we must
• design daily schedules, curricula, and professional development experiences that support highly individualized language rich interactions between adults and children throughout the day and
• radically de-emphasize assessment and tracking of the incremental progress of children and emphasize instead the assessment of the quality of conversation and language modeling provided by adults.
But most of all, let us get out of the business of early literacy and into the business of brain development so that we can provide the kinds of experiences to poor children that affluent children take for granted.
All sessions are 1.5 hours long, and include a brief announcement from our sponsor.
2:oo PM – 3:30 PM Eastern Time.
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