Who Will Save Kindergarten?

At the 2011 NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) conference in Orlando, keynote presenter Vivian Gussin Paley asked this question: “Who will save kindergarten?” She has decades of experience as an early childhood education researcher and kindergarten teacher, and hopes this question inspires thought and conversation. In attendance were two Museum staff working on ECHOS (Early Childhood Hands-On Science), which is a Museum-developed preschool science readiness curriculum and teacher professional development project. The NAEYC conference is one of the foremost professional development opportunities in the field of early childhood education, and Museum staff were there to take it all in. They participated in a standing-room only Science is Play workshop about how learning environments based on play can be fun and engaging for young learners while still meeting standards and encouraging problem solving and observation skills development… they attended a talk by children’s book illustrator and author Kevin Henkes, who explained his thought processes when designing layouts and illustrations that best serve the purpose of involving children in stories (he also happens to be the author of two books, Birds and My Garden, which are highlighted in our ECHOS curriculum)… they learned about resources and ways to incorporate technology into education settings… and tons more. As keynote presented Vivian Gussin Paley suggested in her presentation, “it is time to reinvent the garden of children, and only their teachers can come to the rescue.” Our Museum staff, and all others in attendance at NAEYC, are doing their best to aid in the rescue effort.

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