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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers Eager to learn Educating Our Preschoolers Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy Barbara T.Bowman, M.Suzanne Donovan, and M.Susan Burns, Editors Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, DC
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The study was supported by Grant No. R307U970002 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education, the Spencer Foundation, and the Foundation for Child Development. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy. Eager to learn: educating our preschoolers/Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council; Barbara T.Bowman, M.Suzanne Donovan, and M.Susan Burns, editors. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-06836-3 1. Education, Preschool—United States. 2. Learning—Social aspects—United States. I. Bowman, Barbara T. II. Donovan, Suzanne. III. Burns, M.Susan (Marie Susan) IV. Title. LB1140.23 .N38 2000 372.21′0973–dc21 00–011192 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055; (800) 624–6242 or (202) 334–3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Printed in the United States of America Copyright 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Suggested citation: National Research Council (2001) Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers. Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy. Barbara T. Bowman, M.Suzanne Donovan, and M.Susan Burns, editors. Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I.Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. William A.Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers COMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD PEDAGOGY BARBARA T.BOWMAN (Chair), Erikson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development, Chicago W.STEVEN BARNETT, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University LINDA M.ESPINOSA, College of Education, University of Missouri, Columbia ROCHEL GELMAN, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles HERBERT P.GINSBURG, Teachers College, Columbia University EDMUND W.GORDON, Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology, City University of New York BETTY M.HART, Institute for Life Span Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence CAROLLEE HOWES, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Los Angeles SHARON LYNN KAGAN, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Yale University LILIAN G.KATZ, ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ROBERT A.LeVINE, Harvard Graduate School of Education SAMUEL J.MEISELS, School of Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor LYNN OKAGAKI, Department of Child Development and Family Studies, Purdue University MICHAEL I.POSNER, Sackler Institute, Weill Medical College of Cornell, New York IRVING E.SIGEL, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey BARBARA H.WASIK, School of Education, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill GROVER J.WHITEHURST, Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Stony Brook
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers ALEXANDRA K.WIGDOR, Deputy Director, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education M.SUSAN BURNS, Study Director M.SUZANNE DONOVAN, Senior Project Officer MARIE SUIZZO, Research Associate
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers Preface THE LAST HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY witnessed an outpouring of research on cognition and learning, child development, and the social and cultural context of learning. One clear message to emerge from this explosion of knowledge is the prodigious enthusiasm and competence for learning shown by young children. Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers is the most recent publication from a series of National Research Council (NRC) studies sponsored by the Department of Education for the purpose of making scientific research accessible and salient to educators, policy makers, and parents. (Others include Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children ; Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success ; How People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience, School—Expanded Edition .) It represents the first attempt at a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary synthesis of the theory, research, and evaluation literature relevant to early childhood education. Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers is the product of a 3-year study during which 17 experts, appointed by the NRC as members of the Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy, reviewed studies from many fields in the behavioral and social sciences that used many different research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, and both observational and experimental. We restricted our attention to those aspects of the research litera-
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers ture that have clear implications for what and how young children are taught. (A second National Research Council/Institute of Medicine study, From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Child Development , looks more generally at the health and well-being of young children.) Nevertheless, the attempt to develop an integrated picture of early learning and how the education of young children outside the home should proceed has been an enormous task. Fortunately, we were able to call on the expertise and assistance of many other people in the course of our work. This project has been supported with patience and generosity by the Office of Education Research and Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education. In particular, we thank Kent McGuire, assistant secretary for OERI; Naomi Karp, director of the Early Childhood Institute, whose passion to improve the life chances of all young children inspired the study; Gail Houle, of the Office of Special Education Programs; and Carol Rasco, director, America Reads Challenge, who made possible the presentation of the conclusions and recommendations of Eager to Learn to 600 state education and human services officials who participated in Secretary Riley’s Early Childhood Summit. We also thank the Spencer Foundation, for its support of the project and for making it possible to hold a workshop on global perspectives on early childhood education, and the Early Childhood Foundation, for its support. Individually and collectively, members of the committee had discussions with experts on many of the issues and topics in learning, development, and early care and education. We offer a special note of thanks to Mark Wolery, Vanderbilt University, who was helpful in sharpening the discussion of educating children with disabilities even as he juggled moving vans and house closings. John Bransford, chair of the NRC Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, generously shared the insights of that committee and Lucia French, University of Rochester, provided valuable assistance with the description of mathematics and science programs for preschool children. We also commissioned work on a number of topics of special interest as the study progressed. Our particular thanks go to Ellen Frede, The College of New Jersey, for her background paper on
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers model programs and the evaluation data supporting them; to Carol Ripple, Yale University, who developed an information base on early childhood state standards; and to Douglas H.Clements, State University of New York, Buffalo, who prepared a background paper on the practical use of technology in early childhood programs. To broaden its understanding of early childhood care and education, the committee commissioned a number of papers which were presented at a workshop entitled, “Global Perspectives on Early Childhood Education,” held at the National Academy of Sciences on April 6–7, 1999. Our special thanks go to Jerome Bruner, whose keynote address conveyed the wisdom of a lifetime’s work on the learning of young children; Shiela B. Kamerman, “Early Childhood Education and Care: Preschool Policies and Programs in the OECD Countries;” Rebecca S.New, “Italian Early Childhood Education: Variations on a Cultural Theme;” Cigdem Kagitcibasi, “Early Learning and Human Development: The Turkish Early Enrichment Program;” Susan D. Holloway, “Beyond the ‘Average Native’: Cultural Models of Early Childhood Education in Japan.” Our thanks as well to discussant Robert G.Myers. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Sue Bredekamp, Council for Professional Recognition in Early Childhood, Washington, DC; Roy G.D’Andrade, Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego; Rheta DeVries, Regents’ Center for Early Developmental Education, University of Northern Iowa; Jacqueline Jones, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey; Susan Kontos, Department of Child Development and Fam-
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers ily Studies, Purdue University; Eleanor Maccoby, Department of Psychology, Stanford University (emeritus); Rebecca New, Department of Education, University of New Hampshire; Lawrence J.Schweinhart, High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, Ypsilanti, Michigan; Catherine Snow, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; and Bernard Spodek, College of Education, University of Illinois. Although the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Finally, there are several members of the NRC staff who made significant contributions to our work. Susan Burns, now a faculty member at George Mason University, served as study director during much of the life of the committee. Marie Suizzo, as research associate, was instrumental in organizing the workshop on global perspectives. Christine McShane, editor, worked with us on several drafts of the report and significantly improved the text. Shirley Thatcher and Carey Munteen spent many weeks tracking down errant references and otherwise filling in the blanks. A special thanks to Suzanne Donovan, a senior member of the research staff, who took time from her other duties to help with the final revisions to the manuscript. Barbara Bowman, Chair Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy Alexandra K.Wigdor, Deputy Director Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 Context of the Report and Committee Charge, 3 New Understandings of Early Childhood Development and Pedagogy, 4 Variation Among Children, 5 Quality in Education and Care, 6 Features of Quality Programs, 7 Curriculum and Pedagogy, 9 Assessment in Early Childhood Education, 11 Recommendations, 12 Future Research Needs, 18 Conclusion, 20 1 INTRODUCTION 23 About This Report, 30 Overview of the Report, 35 2 WHAT DOES THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING CONTRIBUTE TO EARLY CHILDHOOD PEDAGOGY? 37 Theories of Cognitive Development, 39 Social and Emotional Context: The Importance of Relationships, 47 Development of the Brain, 53 Summary, 58
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers 3 THE IMPORTANCE OF INDIVIDUAL AND CULTURAL VARIATIONS 59 Variation in Cognitive Skills and Knowledge, 60 Variation in Social and Emotional Development, 85 Variations in Physical and Motor Development, 117 Children with Disabilities, 121 Summary, 126 4 PRESCHOOL PROGRAM QUALITY 128 Programs for Economically Disadvantaged Children, 129 Preschool Program Quality and Children’s Learning and Development, 137 Findings Across Early Education Approaches, 144 Programs for English-Language Learners, 157 Early Childhood Programs in Other Countries, 160 Children with Identified Disabilities, 164 Summary, 179 5 CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY: THE WHAT AND THE HOW OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION 182 Curriculum Goals, 183 Curriculum Content, 186 Pedagogy/Teaching Strategies, 213 Summary, 230 6 ASSESSMENT IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION 233 Issues in Standardized Assessment of Young Children, 235 Assessment for Pedagogical and Instructional Planning, 241 Assessment for Selection and Diagnosis, 252 Assessment for Policy Decisions, 257 Summary, 259 7 THE PREPARATION OF EARLY CHILDHOOD PROFESSIONALS 261 Professional Development, 263 Teacher Education, 270 Summary, 275
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers 8 PROGRAM AND PRACTICE STANDARDS 277 Program Standards, 278 Standards of Practice, 298 9 FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 306 Conclusions and Recommendations, 309 Future Research Needs, 318 Conclusion, 322 APPENDIX: SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE 323 The Scientific Methods, 323 Research in Early Childhood Education, 329 REFERENCES 333 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 403 INDEX 415
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers Tables, Boxes, and Figures TABLES 1–1 Early Childhood Education and Care Policy Dimensions in Selected OECD Countries, 26 3–1 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by Print Familiarity Scores, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 66 3–2 Percentage of First-Time Kindergartners Passing Each Reading Proficiency Level, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 68 3–3 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by Numbers of Books and Children’s Records, Audiotapes, or CDs in the Home, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 70 3–4 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Number of Times Each Week Family Members Read Books and Tell Stories to Them, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 74 3–5 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Number of Times Each Week Family Members Sing Songs and Do Arts and Crafts with Them, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 78
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers 3–6 Percentage of First-Time Kindergartners Passing Each Mathematics Proficiency Level, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 82 3–7 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Frequency with Which Parents Say They Persist at a Task, Are Eager to Learn New Things, and Are Creative in Work or Play, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 86 3–8 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Frequency with Which Teachers Say They Persist at a Task, Are Eager to Learn New Things, and Pay Attention Well, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 90 3–9 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Frequency with Which Parents Say They Engage in Prosocial Behavior, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 94 3–10 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Frequency with Which Teachers Say They Engage in Prosocial Behavior, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 98 3–11 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Frequency with Which Teachers Say They Exhibit Antisocial Behavior, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 102 3–12 Percentage Distribution of First-Time Kindergartners by the Frequency with Which Parents Say They Exhibit Antisocial Behavior, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 106 3–13 First-Time Kindergartners’ Mean Fine Motor Skills Score and Percentage Distribution of Scores, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 118 3–14 First-Time Kindergartners’ Mean Gross Motor Skills Score and Percentage Distribution of Scores, by Child and Family Characteristics: Fall 1998, 120 3–15 Percentage of First-Time Kindergartners Whose Parents Reported Developmental Difficulty in Terms of Activity Level, Attention, Coordination, and Pronunciation of Words: Fall 1998, 123 4–1 Longitudinal Studies, 134
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers 4–2 Curriculum Comparison Studies Completed, 140 4–3 Types of Preschool Education Settings for Children from Other than English-Speaking Homes in the United States, 158 8–1 Examples of Children’s Development in Early Reading and Writing and in Mathematics, 279 8–2 Summary of State Content Standards for Teaching Children in Prekindergarten Programs, 280 8–3 Child Care Licensing, State Requirement, 304 BOXES 4–1 The Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale, 154 4–2 Educational Environments for Preschoolers with Disabilities, 168 5–1 Little Books, 192 5–2 Literacy Enhanced Sociodramatic Play, 192 5–3 Literacy as a Source of Enjoyment, 193 5–4 Dialogic Reading, 197 5–5 Rightstart™ The Number Line Game, 203 5–6 Bag It, 207 5–7 ScienceStart!™ Air, 210 5–8 Tools of the Mind, 215 6–1 Approaches to Performance Assessment, 250 FIGURES 1–1 Percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education (both private and public): October 1965 to October 1997, 28 4–1 Number of children with disabilities ages 3 through 5 served in different educational environments 1996–1997, 168
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers 5–1 Possible emergent literacy examples of curriculum priorities, ages 2–3, 187 5–2 Possible emergent literacy examples of curriculum priorities, ages 3–4, 188 6–1 Percentage of public school kindergarten teachers indicating whether various factors for kindergarten readiness were very important or essential, 256 9–1 Arenas through which research knowledge influences classroom practice, 310
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Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers Eager to Learn
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