ECE expert ready to share the importance of curriculum at NZTC Symposium
Dr Sue Bredekamp will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 NZTC Symposium. An early childhood education specialist from Washington, DC, she serves as a consultant on developmentally appropriate practice, curriculum, teaching, and professional development for state and national organisations such as NAEYC, Head Start, the Council for Professional Recognition, and Sesame Street.
Why is curriculum important in a child’s formative years?
Curriculum content is important for two reasons. Firstly, research demonstrates that knowledge and abilities acquired during the early years (such as language) predict later success in school and life. Secondly, children themselves are naturally curious. They want to learn all about the world and everything in it. They have individual interests that engage them. Studying topics of interest is motivating and children love to learn.
What are the essential elements that should be included in early childhood education?
I think there are three fundamentals. The most important element of early childhood education is positive, supportive relationships among teachers and children. This is the foundation of all learning and development. Second, children need a safe, healthy learning environment to explore and support their development in all ways. Third, children need engaging, interesting experiences that help them achieve important learning goals.
What makes early childhood education unique?
ECE is unique because it is so foundational. Much of later learning doesn’t just build on earlier learning, it depends on it. ECE is also unique because young children are so integrally connected to their families. Early educators must work effectively with both children and families. During early childhood, we focus on the whole child so the curriculum must be more integrated than in the later years of school. Teachers must have broad content knowledge or, at the very least, be constantly learning themselves.
What difference can early childhood teachers make in the lives of children?
Early childhood educators make a significant, positive difference in the lives of children and their families, especially those who are less economically advantaged. High quality early education prevents problems later on in school and life. Early childhood teachers should take pride in their profession.
Is there a common trait that is lacking in early childhood education curriculum globally?
I think that there is usually a tendency toward either/or thinking. Either the focus is on academics or play; teacher-initiated or child-initiated experiences; process or content; preparation for the next level of education or living the fullest, most wonderful experience today. I would like to see a both/and focus rather than these artificial dichotomies.
What can parents do to contribute to their young children’s education?
This is a very large question with many answers but there is one very basic answer – they can be the best parents possible. They know their children as individuals and they know their family’s cultural background and language. They need to be the key informants of teachers and advocates for their children throughout life.
What does developmentally appropriate practice mean to you?
Developmentally appropriate practices are ways of teaching that vary for and adapt to the age, experience, interests, and needs of individual children. It requires professional decision-making on the part of teachers. To me, developmentally appropriate practice means that early childhood professionals know and respect children and families; build positive, responsive, caring relationships with them; and see children as competent and eager to learn. To teach in developmentally appropriate ways means to be professional, ethical, and committed to lifelong learning. Most important, it requires that teachers have the capacity to experience and express the joy of knowing and learning from young children.
To learn more about the 2017 NZTC Symposium and to register your interest, click on the links below: