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Top Down and Bottom Up
July 29, 2019
Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.
-Jess Lair

Lilian Katz, writing in the book, Cultivating an Early Childhood Curriculum, (part of the Art of Leadership series), explains that “there are many ways to assess the quality of a program for young children. One is to look at it from the top down; another is from the bottom up. Both views are important.”

Here are a few of the examples she gives of both types of assessment:

"A top-down view should include an examination of staff relationships. We could ask:

  • are they supportive rather than contentious?
  • are they cooperative rather than competitive?
  • are they accepting rather than antagonistic or even hostile?
  • are they trusting rather than suspicious?
  • are they respectful rather than bossy?...

A bottom up view…can proceed by asking about the environment on behalf of the child:

  • am I taken seriously rather than just precious or cute?
  • am I usually accepted by some peers rather than isolated, neglected, or rejected?
  • is this environment usually involving rather than entertaining?
  • are the activities meaningful rather than mindless?
  • are the activities engaging rather than amusing?
  • are the activities interesting rather than boring?"

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