“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."
Complementary Curriculum Approach
Transform Your Practice Through Intentional Teaching
The Complementary Curriculum Approach invites teachers to support children’s play and cultivate classroom environments with rich, interesting learning experiences at the core. Four strategic and powerful teaching intentions are presented. The goal is that teachers will invigorate their practice and enhance their own time and energy by using these fresh, interrelated tools.
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Amy, children and families in your program are fortunate indeed! You have a splendid dream, and no, I don't think you're the only one. If you're not already involved in the ROW Initiative, you might enjoy joining some fellow 'dreamers.' Visit exchangepress.com/row
Thanks, as always, Francis, for your research-based perspective. The quote is from Complementary Curriculum, so perhaps the authors are addressing the subset of early childhood professionals who've picked up the book! Would that more people in early care and education cross paths with instructor/mentors like you before the enter the classroom, to find their way to a more reflective and collaborative model. I'm curious as to how you see this relating to your article Guerilla Teaching Tactics, which I was reminded of here.
I am not sure I totally agree with this. I recently cowrote an article based on a case study we did of toddler teachers in several private early childhood programs. Almost all the teachers had a very non-DAP approach to curriculum and instruction, citing their deep belief that their central task was "to get students ready for the next rung of the ladder". They did not express conflict with administrators; they were the ones pushing the inappropriate approach. It is much more pervasive - and dangerous - than this piece suggests.
I simply loved this message coming through today as this issue has been ever increasing in my thoughts. What do we want out of preschool and what should it look like? In the immortal words or John Lennon, "...they may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one..." What I envision for preschool is where a "teacher" is more of a facilitator to expose students to a variety of experiences, activities, & media. We are a conduit for learning in helping to bring the wonder of learning versus imparting all our worldly knowledge into their little brains. It should be more of a collaboration rather than a dictatorship where every moment of their school day is chosen for them. Children should be free to express themselves and interact with their environment in a meaningful, engaging exchange.
I've been in the field for over 16 years and I've seen some programs who truly embrace the philosophy as I mentioned above and I've see others where they want to churn out children who are "kindergarten ready." What every that's supposed to mean.