"One of my worries about the growing focus on academics and school readiness in programs for young children is it keeps many teachers from seeing children’s innate, lively minds at work," declares Deb Curtis in her book, Really Seeing Children.
"When teachers are overly concerned about teaching the alphabet and other isolated skills and facts, they may miss children’s serious approaches to tasks and voracious quests to understand the world around them. As Lilian Katz's quote suggests, children are more apt to be interested in intellectual pursuits rather than academic lessons. I think clarifying the difference between the two can help teachers see and appreciate children’s thinking, and in turn, offer meaningful experiences that engage their lively minds."
Deb Curtis, in her more than 40 years as an early childhood educator, has cultivated a reflective teaching practice devoted to really seeing children. Through her collection of stories and photographs, learn to suspend your adult agenda to really see children's perspectives and the amazing ways they experience the world. Taking up this practice will bring joy and deeper understanding to your work and life and allow you to engage with children in a more meaningful teaching and learning process.
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My school is often described as an "academic preschool". Although I understand the description by parents - we do have very high Kindergarten Readiness Rates, our children often graduate with high academic skills. However, we teach these skills through play and discovery. I love the idea of separating the academic and the intellectual. By concentrating on intelligence as a whole, we can recognize the various types of intelligence children possess. Perhaps I should reframe the term "academic" as it refers to my school and, instead, use the word "intellectual", explaining the meaning behind the differentiation. Wonderful article. I am purchasing the book.
We keep coming back to the destructive nature of our current push-down of academics in early childhood. But we don't seem to be able to do anything about it! And it is not the teachers who need to be educated - they are simply implementing what the administrator, state department bureaucrats, and others are requiring. What we need to do is empower teachers to resist this continued negative approach to early childhood!