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“Early childhood educators want to promote play-based experiences and open-ended, creative opportunities with loose parts and multiple entry points,” write Lisa Porter Kuh and Iris Chin Ponte in their popular new book, Complementary Curriculum: Transform Your Practice Through Intentional Teaching. “On the other hand,” the authors continue, “teachers are under increasing pressure from administrators and funders to teach academic content and discrete skills linked to assessments tied to children’s learning…Preschool curriculum can often look more like kindergarten or even first grade.”
Heather Shumaker, author of the book, It's OK Not to Share, echoes Kuh and Ponte’s concern:
“Times have changed. But children haven't. Young kids are on the same evolutionary path they've always been on. It's our expectations that are off. We're trying to make children ready for the next stage of life before natural development allows them to be ready. It's like expecting ten-year-olds to drive a car safely, or expecting a four-month-old to walk.”
Kuh and Ponte explain that “the mantra is about getting children ‘ready’ for kindergarten, which in many settings means doing kindergarten in preschool. The reality is that kindergarten should look more like preschool if we really want to foster play-based learning...
Yet there are ways for teachers to think differently about these polarizing features of educating young children. The Complementary Curriculum Approach invites teachers to support children’s play and cultivate classroom environments with rich, interesting learning experiences at the core. Under this approach, several key early education philosophies and theories come together in ways that complement each other, rather than divide our field into opposing camps."
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