Why This, Why Now
We explore the possibilities of early childhood education through our journeys to visit early childhood programs throughout the United States. Our goal is to make the work of early childhood educators visible within our community and to a broader audience of parents, policy makers, and society.
What started as a spark has blossomed into a lifelong way of looking at early childhood. While this website is not an early childhood policy platform---see our resource list if this is your thing---we cannot deny that the attention being paid to early childhood at a state and national level is both gratifying and a little scary. With state and national attention, comes policy platforms that focus on child outcomes, school readiness, and accountability. We do not disagree that children need supports for school success---we should all strive to support children in social, emotions, cognitive, and physical readiness---however we are cautious about how these policy platforms are enacted. We worry about standardized curriculum, pushing K-12 into early childhood, and school entry exams as a way to measure children’s ‘readiness’. Our fear is that early childhood will become standardized because policy makers and people of influence do not understand that there are other paths to supporting children’s endless possibilities.
We acknowledge that there is great inequality of opportunity in the United States, where 1 in 5 children live in poverty in the richest country in the world. We acknowledge that United Nations “Convention on the Rights of the Child,” which has been signed by 193 of 194 nations in the world, remains unsigned by our country (UNICEF, May 2014). Does this make PECE unpatriotic, no- it makes us want to work towards universal value of children in our society.
Part of our work is to make visible the alternative models both within our communities---as a way to strengthen our own practice---and to policy makers and people of influence as a way to see that alternative models to standardization provide our best hope. We will celebrate these promising practices in all types of communities and in all economic levels, Supporting the endless possibility of children is a professional stance, not a construct of economics.
We write about learner centered education models and promising practices in early childhood education. What is a learner centered pedagogy? Well it's early childhood educators that share a belief system about the possibility of childhood. Kimberlee Belcher-Badel explains alternative pedagogy as a belief systems where,
Children are creators of knowledge through long-term projects learning by their own discovery, choices, and exertion. They have rights to build up their freedoms, confidence, and self-knowledge. There is also an expectation of responsibility to one's neighbor and one's neighborhood. Through the use of the senses, emphasis on peaceful living, and relationships with nature, the child's spirit and intellect are fed. This holistic view of curriculum aims to make children both proficient at synthesizing information and problem solving but also at negotiating feelings and relationships. Further, from the field of divergent thinking, the curriculum does not aim to deliver or assess knowledge but rather aims to create knowledge and contribute to knowing, through active “research,” “work” and “creation.”
Learner centered education and unique practices offer a way forward, focused on quality without suscumbing to the push-down of academics into early childhood.