Below are a list resources for early childhood education.
Importance of Early Childhood Education
A longitudinal study between individuals that did and did not attend preschool find that those that attended preschool are are financially stable, earn more money, are less likely to receive welfare and be involved in crime as adults. It's agreed upon by scholars that early educational experiences can mean immediate long term benefits. Good early educational programs have elements of each of the following: well-trained educators, higher salaries for teachers, smaller class sizes, and parent and neighborhood involvement.
Originating through the CASTL research lab at the University of Virginia, this blog provides information for what a good preschool/preK educational program looks like: (1) children are actively engaged, (2) learning is contextualized, and (3) teachers have instructionally supportive interactions. When chosing a preschool program, this website is an excellent resource for what aspects of a program parents should consider.
The Early Learning website through John Hopkins University explores research pertaining to early childhood education and its effect on children.
Website from the National Education Association discusses the importance of pre-k programs for academic development as it has positive effects on a child's school readiness when they come of age. This website also provides information on the cognitive benefits of enrolling a child in a preschool program, as well as the long term benefits of having had such an experience prior to starting the "typical" academic school pattern. The National Education Association also provides evidence based in research for their ideas and continues to use the current "child trends" as the basis for future research.
Teaching Methods - Development Based Practice, Project-based learning, and discovery education
This website from NAEYC discusses the use of developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood education. DAP speaks to the importance of meeting the child where they are in terms of developed skills and using scaffolding to aid in their acquisition of more age appropriate skills as they develop.
This PBS website presents information on cognitive and educational milestones, or skills children should develop by certain ages. This website also provides age appropriate science activities to do with your child according to the skills they currently have, and those they are developing.
Website from Educators USA provides an introduction to project-based learning - the idea of using real-world situations and scenarios in the classroom in order to enhance and encourage critical thinking and problem solving, all while continuing emotional and intellectual development.
Website discusses the use of the Reggio Emilia approach in the classroom - The Reggio Emilia philosophy is an approach to teaching, learning and advocacy for children. In its most basic form, it is a way of observing what children know, are curious about and what challenges them. Teachers record these observations to reflect on developmentally appropriate ways to help children expand their academic and social potentials. Long term projects connect core academic areas in and out of the classroom. This website can be used as an introductory level insight of one of the potential educational approaches used in ISC classrooms
Risk-taking and its benefits for children
Article discusses how a child's playground environment can encourage discovery and risk-taking. Example: "Outdoor recess equiptment like monkey bars can encourage risk-taking in children and be very positive for child development." This article also mentions the importance of letting children take risks (within a safe environment), as not allowing risk-taking can increase a child's risk for anxiety disorders. An example of such a risk-taking, adventure-based playground can be found here (in Itaca, NY): http://ithacachildrensgarden.org/play
Article discusses the current trend for overprotecting children and not allowing them to take risks for fear of injury. This article uses an new type of risk-taking "adventure playground" as a case study for allowing children to take risks in a surprising way - sometimes what we may consider now as "dangerous" play isn't dangerous at all. This article enforces the idea that risk-taking does not equal life-threatening, and children should be allowed more freedom in their play -- the real world is full of risk-taking, and therefore "risk-taking is essential for children's healthy development".
Article discusses the importance of what we consider "traditional playgrounds" that allow children to take risks, stating that by preventing children from risk-taking, they may experience a "stunted" emotional development that can leave the child with fears and anxieties, instead of confidence building. Ultimately the goal with risk-taking in a playground setting is for the child to discover what they are capable of as a confidence builder, coming from the mindset that "if they don't try, how will they know they are capable"?