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Early Childhood / Parenting

Early childhood, birth through grade three, is a time of rapid growth and development. Research has shown unequivocally that during these critical first years, young children go through a long period where play and hands-on experiences are vital to learning. This process is essential to later success in more complex tasks. Early learning seems so simple that it is tempting to devalue it as merely a child's recreation rather than recognize it as an extremely complex and absorbing effort to build a rich understanding of the world. Sight and sound, size and shape, must be experienced by a child through all the senses, at his or her own pace. Families, caregivers, and schools must be prepared to understand and support this critical stage of growth for the children in our charge. Our challenge is to be sure that programs and schools meet the special needs of very young children. This floor will explore early learning issues and offer resources and suggestions. We invite you to tell us about resources and websites and your own research and practice.

Recommended Reading
Related Links


What are the Determinants of Children's Academic Successes and Difficulties?
Marian C. Diamond, Ph.D.
How can parents and teachers provide conditions that will most effectively promote growth and change in our children's brains? How can parents help a child develop his or her full potential and set a pathway of lifelong learning? In this article, Marian Diamond, neuroanatomist, describes ways in which parents and teachers should create a climate for enchanted minds to obtain information, stimulate imagination, develop an atmosphere to enhance motivation and creativity and experience the value of a work ethic.

Kindergarten Readiness: A Launching Pad for Future Success
Nina Auerbach
CEO of Child Care Resources explains how the care and nurturing a child receives in the early years shapes his or her ability to learn, to relate to others and to be successful.

Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment-BASIC
Meir Ben-Hur
Senior international trainer in Feuerstein's methods describes a new early childhood IE program.

The Learning Basket
Keith Packard
The Learning Basket is a practical program for stimulating the growth of intelligence for young children. It was developed to provide parents and caregivers of children from birth through three years old with a simple, practical way to stimulate learning through play.?

The Emotional Basis of Learning
Noboru Kobayashi, M.D.
Emotion, communication and learning-- how they are inseparable for the infant.

Embryological Development of the Human Brain
Arnold B. Scheibel, M.D.
Dr. Scheibel tells the fascinating story of how the brain develops in human beings from conception to birth. He makes clear that this complex, rapidly developing process is affected continually by the environment in which it is taking place. What mothers eat, drink, and feel -- and the environments which they themselves experience--affect daily the neural development of their unborn child.

Stories:The Brain-Compatible Way of Teaching Humans
Dr. Renee Fuller
Teaching with stories can improve language and thinking skills in children of all abilities.

Understanding Good and Evil in Children's Literature
Dr. Renee Fuller
Fuller maintains that it is no accident that stories of good and evil appear in all cultures -- they are essential to the mental health of young children.

Learning and Growing Through Stories
Michale Gabriel
Professional storyteller Michale Gabriel has told tales all over the world to audiences of all ages. In this article she talks about our deep human need to tell stories, and she shares her experience with a troubled child whose life changed when she learned how to tell a story.

Tips from a Master Storyteller: Read or Tell? The Giraffe Project
Teacher and storyteller Sue Tannehill talks about why storytelling is such a powerful way to teach and learn. She urges teachers and parents to tell stories as well as reading them, sharing successful strategies for keeping your audience interested and engaged.

I Made It By Myself
Richard Lewis
Play is the great discoverer, and its discoveries are the frontiers and landscapes of our imagining mind. While our hands play, the inner realms of our imagination grow. We literally learn to see through playing and imagining, a world not only in front of us, but a deeper world suggested by the dance of our imagining self.

Playing, Learning, Being Inspired
Charlotte Beall
The Director of Exhibits and Education of the Seattle Children's Museum describes its rich, interactive educational program.

Exploring Nature with Children Throughout Childhood
Karen Salsbury
By encouraging an appreciation of nature in children, their sense of community and stewardship will be much easier to develop and sustain.

The Terror of Critical Thinking, or Why I Don't Believe in First Grade
Dr. John Medina
Dr. Medina shares how the brain works and how educators can teach with this knowledge in mind.

The Plural of Leaf is Tree
Michael Meyerhoff
Meyerhoff writes about the different types of intelligences of two girls. One is an A student and one is an average student; however, the average student possesses incredible curiosity and motivation to learn. He wonders how schools can restructure themselves to value the curious learner, instead of just valuing the learner who can parrot back information.

Making the Most of "Teachable Moments"
Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D.
Parents and teachers can find many ways to teach ethical behavior to children by recognizing the "teachable moments" that crop up every day.

Musings from the Park Bench
Ann Tracey
How can our children learn about respect and integrity if we don't teach them through our actions?

Passionate About Prevention
Morgan Rose
Examining research on the effects of abuse on the mental well-being and academic success of children shows the compelling need for early intervention programs that address children's emotional needs rather than simply attempting to alter their behaviors.

Pioneering Child Care Program Proves Its Worth
Laura Sheehan
The author describes the successful Child Haven child care program.

Including Young Children with Special Needs
Ilene S. Schwartz, Samuel L. Odom, and Susan R. Sandall
Inclusion is not just a school issue -- it extends to the communities in which children and their families live. For parents of special needs children, participation in community, family, and other activities is important as well.

Inclusion at the Preschool Level: An Ecological Systems Analysis
Samuel L. Odom, Charles A. Peck, Marci Hanson, Paula J. Beckman, Ann P. Kaiser, Joan Lieber, William H. Brown, Eva M. Horn, Ilene S. Schwartz
Social policies that guide the implementation of preschool inclusion require a full understanding of the multidimensional nature of the inclusion process. An ecological systems perspective is proposed to facilitate developing a program of research that could identify barriers to and facilitators of preschool inclusion. This conceptual framework is useful for policymakers and practitioners.

Art Therapy: A Proposal for Inclusion in School Settings
Eve C. Jarboe
Ms. Jarboe explains the basics of art therapy and makes a case for its addition to school counseling programs.

First Impressions of Early Childhood Education in China
Mary Ellen O'Keeffe
How Chinese schools for very young children are similar to those in the U.S. and what we can learn from each other.

The Need for High Quality Science Instruction For Pre-K through 5th Graders
Elaine Woo
How the Seattle school district has implemented a hands on science program for elementary students.

Multimedia Technology and Children's Development: A Report on Child Research Net Symposium in Tokyo, Japan, January 1998
Dee Dickinson
Dee Dickinson reports on the exciting first international symposium of Child Research Net entitled Evolution of Child Development in the Multimedia Environment held in Tokyo, Japan in January, 1998. Speakers and discussions raised a number of questions about the role of multimedia technologies in the growth and development of young children. The participants will continue to discuss these issues.

Born to Feel
Talaris Research Institute
Before they can even speak, babies have emotions.

Recommended Reading
Check out these links to find out more about the books we recommend.


Positive Parenting from A to Z
by Karen Renshaw Joslin
Fawcett Columbine, 1994

Magic Trees of the Mind

by Marian Diamond and Janet L. Hopson
Penguin USA, January 1999.

Living By Wonder: The Imaginative Life of Childhood

by Richard Lewis
Parabola, 1998

The Key to Success: Developing Emotional Intelligence in Young Children
by Gail Kushnir
Aschai Publishers, 2003

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child
by John Gottman
Simon and Schuster, 1997

The Mozart Effect for Children
by Don Campbell
William Morrow, 2000

The Learner's Way

by Anne D. Forester and Margaret Reinhard
Portage & Main Pr; 2nd edition, 2000

Related Links:

Archived Information: School Involvement in Early Childhood
From the U.S. Department of Education.

Child Research Net is a nonprofit network of researchers and academics focused on the future of children. It was started by New Horizons for Learning's International Advisory Board Member Noburu Kobayashi, M.D. and is based in Japan.

Early Childhood Today
An online version of Scholastic Publications' magazine for early childhood teachers and directors. Articles focus on curriculum and activities appropriate for young children, with information for parents as well.

Family involvement resources for schools, tip database for parents, and peer-reviewed articles in the School Community Journal sponsored by the Center on Innovation and Improvement, a national content center supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The website of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Program for Early Parent Support: PEPS
PEPS is a non-profit organization that serves parents of children birth to age 3 in King County, Washington. PEPS makes it easy for parents with infants and young children to form networks of support within their community. They also maintain a list of service agencies and new parent resources.

Links for kids
Links to online and/or downloadable activities for young children.

Critical Questions:

  1. How would you assess your home environment in relation to Marian Diamond's characteristics of enriched environments?
  2. If you are a parent, how would you assess your child's classroom environment?
  3. If you are a teacher, how would you assess your classroom environment? What support systems are in place to help you work with students with special needs and from impoverished environments? Does your school offer before and after school programs?
  4. What changes in homes or classrooms have you observed that reflect these principles?
  5. What changes still need to be made?

Possible Actions:

  1. Become well-informed about new information on early childhood and parenting that frequently appears in all the media as well as the resources on our website.
  2. Communicate this information to others.
  3. Make suggested changes in your home or classroom.
  4. Develop or participate in coalitions and support systems to create healthy environments in homes and classrooms; volunteer in public schools.
  5. Celebrate successful changes!

© September 2002

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