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What Kind of Content Should Children Learn in Early Childhood?

Smart, brief report from ACT (with whom I've worked in the past on K-12 issues) looks at why early childhood education matters and what is most important for children to learn in preschool, kindergarten, and the early elementary grades. I particularly like this report for several reasons: First, it looks at the early years as a learning continuum, not just preschool or early elementary school. Second, it maintains a strong focus on the early skills and knowledge that research indicates are most predictive of children's later school performance. This is helpful to lay people and K-12 educators and policymakers who often feel flummoxed by apparent disagreements in the early childhood field about the relative importance of different types of skills and experience for young children.

This report also zeros in on some often under-acknowledged barriers to improving the quality of learning experience in preschool and the early grades, in particular educator and policymaker attitudes towards content-rich instruction in the early elementary grades. Too often, educators and policymakers assume that rich content is either inappropriate for young children, or that content in early childhood programs should focus on things that are closest to children's day-to-day experiences. But the reality is that content, well-delivered, can be incredibly engaging for young children and that restricting their content exposure to content close to their daily lives wastes tremendous opportunities to build background knowledge and vocabulary and can actually reinforce early learning gaps. Check out the entire thing here.

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