ECE 311 Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods
Professor Angela Stratton
June 17, 2013
As educators in the last ten years there have been many changes to how we teach, what we teach, and outside influence on what it means to be a teacher. There are many variables going into what it means to be a teacher. As psychologist David Elkind states, “…today's child is overscheduled, overtested, overfed, and overmarketed; pressured to grow up too soon; and denied the pleasures of being a child” (Jarszewicz, 2013). As early childhood educators we need to understand the children coming into our classrooms. In looking specifically at a kindergarten classroom there are lots of challenges as teachers try to create a classroom that balances being a child with the state standards teachers have to implement in the classroom. In preparing a kindergarten classroom there are many philosophies and theories teachers can incorporate to create this classroom environment. In my ideal kindergarten classroom the philosophies and theories I would include are developmentally appropriate practices, importance of play, and the use of Lev Vygotsky teaching strategies to align with the state standards in California.
Kindergarten is the start of a child’s education in elementary school and for many of them it can be their first experience in school and classroom environments. So, as a kindergarten teacher we are laying the foundation for the rest of their education. As educators the first thing we need to take into consideration are the state standards required for our grade level. These need to be taken into consideration with the development of our lessons and how we structure the school year. However, as teachers we can use different theories and philosophies alongside the state standards to create a balanced education for our students. One of the ways we can do this is through the implementation of developmentally appropriate practices.
A developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is defined in the text as, “Teaching based on developmental and cultural knowledge of both individuals and groups of children and their families”(Jarszewicz, 2013). DAP is not a curriculum but it is a way of teaching alongside the curriculum and take into account the development of children. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has 12 principles of child development teachers should take into consideration plus the curriculum and state standards needed to be followed. Also, NAEYC created a position statement on DAP to help educators be able to understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate practices in early childhood. The initial statement was released in 1986 and has since been revised and can be again due to the ever-changing nature of education and evolution of our knowledge of child development.
In a kindergarten classroom it is important to have DAP practices when working with curriculum and state standards. This is not an easy balance for teachers to be able to apply DAP and with rigorousness of the state standards. As Wilson explains it is important for teachers to be able to adapt the curriculum to address the needs of student’s interests and allow for them to discuss their experiences, feelings, and ideas (2009). It is important for educators to use DAP in their classrooms with the curriculum to help students with their engagement and achieving academic goals which are just beyond their current level. When we push students beyond their current level too quickly, it will not lead to student mastery and it will also lead to students disengagement in school. There has been a rise in disengagement in primary grades so much that Sharon Ritchie developed the dropout-prevention project, which focuses on pre-K through third grade (Wilson, 2009). So, much worry in this country is about the high school drop out but if we do not look into the early childhood...
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