Feb 032015

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

The young children in today’s early childhood classrooms deserve a chance to develop all of the skills necessary to succeed in school and in life. By focusing so narrowly on developmentally inappropriate academic skills, children are being deprived of the experiences they need to hone self-regulation skills, critical thinking skills, and the love of learning that will truly inspire them to work hard in school for the long haul.

– Public School Teacher & Parent, Washington, DC

Every time I hear or think about the immediate impact of the mandated Common Core State Standards on the young children of today, I get deeply concerned. Last month, Defending the Early Years, and the Alliance for Childhood released the report,“Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose” which provides a research-based case for why teaching reading in kindergarten, as outlined by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), is inappropriate for young children. And it describes what a developmentally appropriate, play-based kindergarten that lays the foundations for learning to read looks like. Continue reading »

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Sep 112014

In a recent article in the New York Times, Nick Bilton relates the story of learning that Steve Jobs had not allowed his children to use the iPad.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Bilton goes on to discuss how he learned that quite a few tech presidents and CEOs had similar limitations for their children. Continue reading »

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Aug 262014



September 2014 cover of Boston Parents Paper

This article originally appeared at Boston Parents Paper.

by Geralyn McLaughlin, Diane Levin & Nancy Carlsson-Paige

If you are the parent of a young child, chances are you have seen firsthand that kindergarten has changed dramatically since you were young. There has been a well-documented, though highly controversial, push-down of academics into the earlier years. If your child is just now entering school, you may not have experienced this change – though you may have heard much debate about the Common Core State Standards.

Even comedian Louis C.K. added his ideas to the debate when he tweeted, “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and Common Core!”

Our organization, Defending the Early Years, is deeply concerned about the current direction of early education in the United States. We hear stories all the time from teachers who are struggling to balance the reform mandates with what they know is best for young children. One teacher told us with regret, “I am being forced to shove academics down the throats of 4-, 5- and 6-year-old children. I used to be proud of my teaching – now I feel that I am being forced to do wrong by my students every day.” Continue reading »

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Jun 012014

This memo originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Young Children.

Play is essential for children’s optimal development and learning.  Through play, children use what they already know to help them figure out new things, see how they work, and master skills.  As they do this, children add new social, emotional, and intellectual knowledge and skills to what they already know.  They experience the satisfaction that comes from working things out and solving problems on their own.  They think and sometimes say out loud, “I can do it!”  This is the kind of learning through play that prepares children to feel confident in themselves as learners who see new information and ideas as interesting problems to be solved. Continue reading »

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May 022014

Originally posted at the Washington Post.

By Valerie Strauss with Geralyn McLaughlin, Nancy Carlsson-Paige. This is a report on Defending the Early Years’ survey on early childhood teachers’ views about current state and national early childhood education policies and mandates.

The Common Core State Standards for students in kindergarten through Grade 3 have come under severe criticism by early childhood education experts who say that they are not developmentally appropriate. Even some supporters of the Core initiative, including American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, have called for a revamping of these early education standards. Weingarten made her call in conjunction with early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Lesley University in Cambridge, a senior advisor to Defending the Early Years, a non-profit project of the Survival Education Fund, Inc. — a 501(c) 3 educational organization — that is dedicated to rally educators to take action on policies that affect the education of young children.

Here, from Defending the Early Years, is a document created to help teachers and parents understand why the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are inappropriate for kindergarten through third grade and to help teachers and parents advocate against them while at the same time promote policies and classroom practices that will best meet the needs of young children. Continue reading »

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