Revitalizing the Children’s Garden

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There’s a crisis in the American kindergarten. It’s become the new first grade—if not beyond. In April, more than 200 teachers descended on Bank Street College of Education in New York City to reaffirm the unique and vital role of kindergarten in children’s lives.

“Play is the highest expression of the child’s development,” Friedrich Froebel wrote in the Education of Man. We have to forgive the beloved founder of kindergarten for his lapse from gender neutrality, Cecilia Traugh, Bank Street’s dean of the graduate school, reminded the audience as the celebration began. He lived in the 18th and . . . Read full article →

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Babes in Trump Land: The Path Forward

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“Keep anxiety at bay,” was the subject line of last week’s email from the Family Institute at Northwestern University. The magnitude of the task can’t be overstated. One of the monsters has come out of the closet, and he will soon live in a big white house built by slaves.

On the evening after Donald Trump claimed victory, my millennial daughter joined tens of thousands of Americans in protest, their action captured by the hashtag #NotMyPresident. This radical spark is woven into her DNA. Her grandmother voted for Adlai Stevenson, an intellectual with a progressive bent who lost . . . Read full article →

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We’re Not in Reggio Emilia Anymore: Kathy and Ro’s Translation Project

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Play, the primary engine of human development, is vanishing. Melvin Konner, an anthropologist and neuroscientist, regards it as the central paradox of evolutionary biology, combining great energy and risk for an activity that seems pointless.

But pointless it’s not. The positive emotions evoked by interactions, physical exercise, and mastery of skills in play spurs us toward novelty and more flexible learning—an exquisite means of developing our brains, social selves, and alleviating stress.

Sadly, recent education policies have squelched what all the smartest mammals do naturally. Literacy and numeracy, the prime foci of the Common Core, have . . . Read full article →

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What Do Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups? Ask Erika Christakis

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Suddenly, everyone’s weighing in on what young children need. From CEOs of tech startups to the titans of philanthropcapitalism, from economists to journalists and political pundits, early development and education have become a free-for-all, the province of those whose expertise lies elsewhere.

Enter, Erika Christakis, author of The Importance of Being Little. First, her credentials. She spent her undergraduate years at Harvard, and went on for advanced degrees at Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, and Lesley University’s Graduate School of Education. Long affiliated with Yale, she has taught preschoolers along with college courses on child development and . . . Read full article →

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