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What are the current trends in early childhood education?

Its ironic that the current trends in Early Childhood arent really innovations, per se, but rehashed from the 1940s. But only in modern times do we have the research that shows the benefits from these older pedagogies (and the pitfalls from more traditional trends.) A few of these trends are play-based learning, inquiry-based learning, emergent curriculum, and developmentally appropriate practice. Play-based learning usually looks like a room(s) with stations designed for purposeful play (like blocks, dramatic play, music and movement, games, sensory, and others). There is a body of research that is clear that when play is purposeful and teachers are intentional, play provides an authenticity that kids learn extremely well through. Play is like on-the-job training for kids. And it gives real social situations from which they can learn and practice social skills. And they love it, its fun. The typical work from traditional preschools doesnt have the same kind of impact, not like play-based learning. If you put project-based learning on-top of that, it makes it even more powerful. Inquiry-based learning is guiding learning though questions, especially the childrens questions. In primary years the inquiry cycle is a bit more involved, but for preschool it is enough to model questioning, give questions, take student questions and then show the students how they can go about finding the answers. This can be by reading books, going on field trips, exploring though play, inviting a member of the community to visit the classroom, or any number things. Learning through meaningful questions makes for meaningful learning. Emergent curriculum is a curriculum in which the units of study emerge out of students interest. Ive only seen and used them in play-based classrooms. Basically, you let the kids play in an enriching environment that can provoke a variety of play. When some children start to gravitate toward a theme, the teacher builds a unit around it, ideally, letting the children guide where the unit goes as it goes. Kids become very engaged in the activities or projects and learn that they can take charge of what they learn. I also wanted to mention developmentally appropriate practice in quotations because the term is thrown around at inappropriate times. It just means that any given teaching practice is appropriate based on what we, as a profession, know about child development. For example, expecting all kids in a preK class to be able to write phonetically isnt DAP because we know from brain research that some kids at that age arent there yet. It is DAP to differentiate your expectation for writing and give all kids support from where they are in their respective writing development. It needs to be based on good research. I trust anything from the NAEYC and regularly use the Teaching Strategies Gold assessment continuum. Of course, not all good research comes from them and only them but it should be mostly consistent. Id say these are a few of the biggest trends. Keep in mind that no pedagogy is one size fits all. Its important to know what is good for your group of kids and for the community.

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