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Children are self-motivated when they are encouraged to be so and their intrinsic motivation to learn is not crushed, but nurtured by practitioners that have an understanding of them.

Curriculum and pedagogy in the early years

Children are encouraged to develop self-discipline. This helps children to concentrate well, and to learn effectively. It also relates understanding of self, others and the universe. Children need to be given choices, allowed to make errors, decisions and offered sensitive help as and when it is needed, This will help children to learn in ways which are right for each of them as individuals.

In this way practitioners are supporting and also extending their learning. The tone and atmosphere should be encouraging and not judgemental or critical. This Froebel believed builds self-esteem and confidence. Children need to be given personal space to construct, build and model.

However children also benefit from lots of talking with the practitioner about what they are doing and going to do.

Engaging young children : a nurturing pedagogy

Language, talking and listening to each other, is an important and central way in which children become symbol users. When it comes to taking a Froebelian approach to observing children. It might look as if the practitioners are only there in the background, but in fact they are central. Practitioners working with young children, either in group setting or in a home based setting, are key to helping children develop and learn.

Practitioners create warm affectionate atmospheres, which open children up to learning and help children to know themselves, respect themselves, like themselves, and engage with their learning very positively. Froebel believed that practitioners also create the physical environment both indoors and outdoors. He points out how important it is for children to learn without external pressures from practitioners. To accommodate this diversity, activities in the early childhood classroom must be sufficiently rich and open-ended to permit children to find their own level of participation and developmental challenge.

For example, when children mix drops of colored water, some may focus on creating a variety of shades of orange while others practice the small motor skills needed to operate an eyedropper. It explicitly models and teaches a scientific approach to problem solving. This approach to problem solving extends beyond science into social disputes and carrying out complex, multiphase projects. It is language-rich. Language development is a primary developmental task of early childhood and language skill is a potent predictor of learning to read and subsequent academic success.

The activities therefore emphasize relevant receptive and expressive language and introduce key vocabulary. The primary goal of ScienceStart! At the same time, ScienceStart! Children who are in a ScienceStart! There are periods for large group activities, choice time in activity centers, and outdoor or large motor play. Teachers have a great deal of flexibility and autonomy in terms of which activities they select for investigation within a given topic area.

However, an underlying structure supports the coherence and integration of the curriculum. Each day, the science-based leading activity serves as a core around which other classroom activities including vocabulary, expressive and receptive language opportunities, read aloud books, mathematics, social studies, arts and expression, and center-based and outdoor play are organized.

The leading activity is presented during large group time following a simple cycle of scientific reasoning Reflect and Ask; Plan and Predict; Act and Observe; Report and Reflect and is subsequently available for individual or small group exploration. Three times a year, classrooms join together in a science celebration in which parents and children work together on science activities.


The essential cognitive foundations that form the goals of the curriculum are based on 1 what is known about the ordinary course of development during the preschool years, 2 skills commonly identified as problematic during the early school years, and 3 competencies that are believed to emerge in environmental situations to which children may have differential levels of access depending on family background. In Head Start classrooms in which ScienceStart! Children appear to love the program, learn a great deal about the surrounding world, and develop essential cognitive foundations for later academic success.

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Katz has suggested that all curricula at every level of education address, explicitly or implicitly, the acquisition and strengthening of four dimensions of growth: knowledge, skills, dispositions, and feelings. Much of the discussion above on curriculum content, particularly as it is described through exemplary programs, implies a pedagogical approach. We now turn more explicitly to research on issues of pedagogy. The spectrum of education programs provided for preschool children reflects diverse philosophical beliefs and related ap-.

They range from those in which children engage primarily in play or self-initiated activities, to those in which children sit in chairs and passively receive direct instruction. In practice, most programs combine elements of both direct instruction and free play. Constructivists, for example, take a position between the extremes. They suggest that development results from a complex interaction between children and their environments Dewey, ; Piaget, Education is child-centered, but the adult takes responsibility for placing the child in environmental circumstances that will provoke active construction of new understandings.

Sociocultural theory places primacy on cognitive activity occurring through social interaction with more knowledgeable peers and adults who provide support as a child explores new understandings, knowledge and skills, a disposition toward learning, and insight about himself or herself as a learner Dewey, ; Vygotsky, , Pedagogy is not ultimately about free play, instruction, or placing the child in carefully chosen stimulating environments; the critical factor is a high degree of direct adult engagement and guidance in the process of construction Bodrova and Leong, Vygotsky and Rogoff provide a description of this learning process.

Its central feature requires addressing children within their zone of proximal development, the zone within which a child can actively participate in learning under the guidance of more knowledgeable peers or adults, who structure the learning so as to guide the child through tasks that are just beyond current capability. See Box 5—8 for an example of a program based on this theory. A series of early childhood programs based on sociocultural theory was developed by Bodrova and Leong They have engaged in long-term intervention studies using programs they have developed for teaching writing and reading as two major intervention efforts.

In Tools of the Mind , they describe their procedures for instruction in great detail built on the Vygotskian notion of the zone of proximal development p. These programs are unusual in that they have a well-established theoretical base from which all measures and teaching strategies are derived. Reports from teachers using the approach indicated satisfaction with its use and the help it provides in developing classroom instruction.

For more information on the Early Literacy Advisor, see Bodrova, et al.

The propensity to play is inherent in children Franklin, and has been a focus for most of the major theorists and practitioners in education and developmental psychology. The interest in play is shared by ethnologists who have recognized the role of play in the development of animal species that have long childhoods, complex social organizations, and high-level skill requirements. Piaget and Vygotsky, both of whom have strongly influenced the field of early education, explicitly link symbolic play with language and literacy Pellegrini et al.

Different types of play are more prevalent at different ages, although all forms continue throughout the early childhood period. Gradually pretend play taking on different characters and language play nonsense words are added, with social dramatic play collaborative social activities and games rule play usually occurring in 4- and 5-year-olds. Young children are highly motivated to play, and play offers the opportunity for self-expression, social collaboration through speech and shared ideas, emotional and social understanding, and self-regulation. Play as a pedagogical tool has not been extensively researched Howes and Smith, There are two likely reasons for this: first, play often has been viewed as noneducational and not related to intentional teaching Hall, Second, play is difficult to define Fein, ; thus, much of the research is labeled for attributes of the playing process, such as social interaction, symbolic representation literacy , role rehearsals, fantasy, enactments,.

About Froebel

Howes and Smith found play and positive social interactions with teachers predicted more complex cognitive activities in child care centers. Constructing narratives makes cognitive demands for recalling and sequencing information, linking references to prior utterances rather than to tangible objects, and so disembedding language from the here and now Blank, Umiker-Sebeok recorded in three classrooms the intraconversational narratives of 62 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children during preschool free play.

The 3-year-olds initiated narratives to start a conversation: a child would suddenly launch into a story about an event or person at school and, if there was no response, he or she would simply walk away as though no answer had been expected. The 4-year-olds stated the who, when, and where in 64 percent of their narratives, and they reported events that occurred outside school. The 4-year-olds also got a response 56 percent of the time. All the narratives of the 5-year-olds contained information about the who, where, and when of the story, and a third contained one or more comments that elaborated on a current or preceding topic.

Children adapt their speech style to the listeners they are addressing and the roles they are playing.


Anderson asked. When role-playing fathers in the family setting, the children used a direct, forceful speech style. The children shifted into baby talk when role-playing the family child see also Dunn and Kendrick, ; Sachs and Devin, ; Wilkinson et al.


Children exhibit rudimentary metalinguistic abilities for thinking about language, analyzing it, and playing with it. Play fosters the use of symbols and symbolic representations Piaget, ; Sigel, Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong Bodrova, ; Bodrova and Leong, , a, b describe the work of Vygotsky and his colleague Elkonin on play and set this work within a U. In this framework, play is defined as containing three elements: an imaginary situation, defined roles, and implicit rules.

The 40 Best Books on Early Childhood Education

Play is described as necessary for the preschool child in that it provides them with the social and self-regulatory. Overall recall with toys was significantly higher than with pictures. In play children act according to a set of rules and roles that inhibit and restrain their behavior as they dramatize a scenario.

Vygotsky proposes that in this type of play young children are able to function within their zone of proximal development as the roles and rules of the scenario support activity that they often could not do without support.