By Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Nancy Carlsson-Paige is professor emerita at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the University’s Center for Peaceable Schools. A strong advocate for public education, Nancy speaks and writes on a variety of education and parenting topics. Her most recent book is ”Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Kids.”
(CNN) - Here’s what I would say to the presidential candidates (in case they ask me) about what we need to do to give the best education possible to our nation’s youngest members.
I would start talking in a pretty loud voice to make sure they can hear: You are going in the wrong direction with policy-making for early childhood education! Please back up and start over.
And this time, put early childhood educators at the head of the policy-making table.
Most classrooms for young kids today are driven by a myriad of developmentally inappropriate standards-based tests and checklists. Policy mandates are causing a pushdown of academic skills to 3, 4 and 5 year olds that used to be associated with first-graders through third-graders. Young kids are expected to learn specific facts and skills at specified ages, such as naming the letters and counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.
This has led to more teacher-directed “lessons” and a lot more rote learning by kids who try to learn what’s required but don’t really understand.