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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
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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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