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Values of Early Childhood Education Essay

Research Proposal The purpose of my proposed study is to analyze the values of early childhood education in the public schools system. There are several things that I hope to accomplish by conducting this research. This research will further illustrate how a sound foundation on certain skills enhances the readiness for those students entering kindergarten. This research will also provide possible solutions for kindergarten retention rates in the public schools system. I plan to investigate the answers to my questions using data, personal interviews with teachers, research based journals and magazines.

I plan to utilize documents such as report cards and standardized test scores from schools. There are several sub-questions that I plan to examine such as: How and when do we know a child is ready for kindergarten? What measures are being used to assess the readiness of kindergarten? Why does full-day kindergarten work? I am a Kindergarten teacher who has benefited greatly from having a sound foundation early in my academic career. Therefore, I will keep an open mind throughout this paper and only state facts based on information found during my research.

Parents, teachers, and other school employees are concerned with the issue of kindergarten readiness in today’s youth. Some districts start students in kindergarten based strictly on age. Other districts start students in kindergarten based on student’s scores from kindergarten screening tests. The screening tests are frequently administered by inexperienced employees (West). It is very difficult for a child to be confronted by a stranger, and perform several different tasks in a pressured testing atmosphere.

Although these two ways have worked in our country for years, times are changing. Full-day kindergarten is also a growing trend throughout the nation that has had a positive impact on kindergarten retention nationwide (Atkins-Burnett and Meisels 37). This seems to be making up for the lack of unity in the kindergarten admission throughout the United States. Although it seems to be patching up everything properly this should not be used to patch up the mistakes of the way we decide on a child’s readiness to enter kindergarten. Mrs.

Cheryl Mueller, former director of the Center for Child Development on the campus of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, states that these screening tests are mostly developed locally and claim to test things that are not important to the readiness of a child in kindergarten. At the Center for Child Development where Mrs. Mueller previously worked, the teachers must administer an evaluation two times during the school year which tests the child’s knowledge on several different tasks that determine the child’s readiness(see figure 1).

Mueller believes that a pre-k program is imperative for a child to be fully prepared for kindergarten at age five. This should be the standard nationwide (Mueller). The “No Child Left Behind Act” now in place across the country has raised the bar on pre-k classrooms nationwide. In 2006, pre-k school teachers were required to hold an associates’ degree (Tozer). With these standards being raised it ensured that proper education in a pre-k classroom would be take place and encourage more parents across the nation to get involved in placing their children in a pre-k program.

This would significantly reduce the kindergarten retention rate says Mueller. There is no statewide standard, which prevents a lot of children from advancing to the first grade. The kindergarten retention rates continue to climb all over the country. The Education Statistics Services Institute states 40% of children that are retained in kindergarten are more likely to have behavioral problems, and set backs in social development with other children (West).

This is why there should be four aspects that a district reviews in order to determine a child’s readiness for kindergarten including; social and emotional development, approaches to learning, communication, and cognitive development and general knowledge, and this should be a nationwide criteria. Social and emotional development in children of five years old is imperative in determining the readiness of a student for kindergarten. A student that is five years old, and ready for kindergarten should be able to do a certain check-list of activities including: · Dresses self without help · Tie shoelaces.

· Balances on each foot · Heel to toe walk · Can count on fingers · Knows own address and phone number · Recognizes colors and common shapes · Copies simple shapes (e. g. triangle or square) · Able to print a few letters and numbers · Draw a person with a head, body, arms, and legs · Speaks in phrases that are understood by others · Plays make believe and dress up · Plays and shares with others · Understands opposites · Recalls parts of stories These are just some of the social and emotional aspects that should be nationally accepted to the guidelines for kindergarten readiness (Amos).

These tasks should be evaluated by a pre-school teacher or by a highly qualified expert. A student’s developmental skills are also very important in evaluating a child’s readiness for kindergarten. They need to be able to complete several different tasks to function happily in the kindergarten classroom. These tasks include parts of speech and language, gross motor coordination, fine motor coordination, and social and emotional. In the speech and language section students need to ask meaning of words. This determines whether or not the child will be involved in the learning process in a classroom setting.

The student must describe pictures and experiences. They must use appropriate verb tenses and grammar. This will ensure a core of knowledge for the kindergarten curriculum. Also, the student must recognize simple jokes, riddles, and absurdities. (Gisler and Eberts). The student’s gross motor coordination should also be an important factor in determining the child’s readiness for kindergarten. They must be able to walk downstairs using alternate feet, and hop on one-foot; this is to check the child’s balance and ability to walk.

They must jump along a six- foot line with both feet. The student needs to be able to walk scissor steps across a line. Last, but not least, student must be able to begin to skip alternating feet. These evaluations are done in a few states nationwide. These evaluations do take place in certain districts in the state of Mississippi and are administered by properly trained educators. This needs to become a nationwide standard. (Williams) The next part of the evaluation should include fine motor coordination including using scissors to cut a straight line.

It seems like an easy task but as a kindergarten teacher witnessing it first hand everyday; it is hard for students to complete this task. The child needs to copy a circle, square, and cross. This is to make sure the child is ready to learn extensive penmanship. This is also where students need to draw a person with a body, a head, and four limbs. This is not to see if there is an artist in the making, yet to see if children comprehend parts of the human body, and to see if they can distinguish their basic shapes. The final portion of this part of the evaluation should be social and emotional.

This would include the child handling snaps, buckles, zippers, and possess the beginning knowledge of shoe tying. The child should be fully potty trained, and should independently take care of their own business in the bathroom. They should be able to dress and undress independently. This is very imperative especially with the laws and regulations between a student/ teacher relationship from kindergarten and beyond (Schweinhart and Zongping). A child also needs to be able to function in structured group activities with rules and discipline.

The student needs to have sympathy for others in all situations. And, of course the golden rule, “Sharing is caring” all students need to partake in sharing and taking turns. If a child can complete these tasks they will be ready and able for the task at hand. “A child who is socially ready for school should be able to make friends, gets along with peers, and communicates well with teachers. Children who arrive at kindergarten with social competencies generally have an easier time forming relationships with their peers and better school outcomes” (Elovson 27). Dr.

Elvoson has a good handle on this situation. The social aspect is often overlooked in most kindergarten evaluation tests, if the district even has any such test. A kindergartener should be able to ease in joining others in play, have an ability to make and keep friends, and positively interact with peers. There is a large percentage of students who interact with their peers who show positive social behaviors while a very small percentage show poor social development. Full-day kindergarten is a trend nationwide that is helping with the oversights, or lack of kindergarten evaluations.

Full-day kindergarten has made state standards and standardized testing more advanced so, that at age five children will attain more knowledge academically, in better preparation for the first grade. It also gives teachers more time to get to know their students, and individualize their instruction. In turn, it gives students more time to learn all the academics that kindergarteners are required to learn. Having students in class over twenty hours a week has produced the increased studying of, all subject matter including: math, social studies, and science every day (Walston).

This is preventing kindergarten retention. Kindergarten retention is another serious problem that could be avoided if we increased the rigor of the content on kindergarten evaluations. The pre-k tests that are administered at educational institutions such as the Center for Child Development Center in Hattiesburg takes the gross motor, fine motor, psycho/social, self-help, cognitive, homework, and reading/writing categories and put them into a mini-evaluation as shown in figure one. This is what every state should do for the kindergarten evaluation.

In figure one a sheet is shown where the teachers that do the evaluation are told to show children ten colors. The children must point them out and recall the colors without any help from the instructor. Then, the child must pick out four shapes, and tell the instructor the names of four shapes. Next, the student is asked to count to ten. Following counting the numbers aloud the student must then look at flash cards of the numbers and distinguish them apart by name without any help from the instructor. The final step of part two in the evaluation consists of the alphabet.

The students must say the entire alphabet without singing the alphabet. This is difficult even for adults. Then the students must recognize the alphabet as shown with flash cards, with again, no help for the instructor. These evaluations seem to work very well, and 95% of the Center for Child Development students goes on to pass kindergarten successfully (Mueller). In conclusion, there are some of these same techniques taking place in different parts of the United States today. Education is an essential part of growing up. Many children begin school at the age of 5 or 6, when they usually enter kindergarten.

Kindergarten is where the foundation is set for a child’s long term educational progress. Some view kindergarten as a baby stage that is not important, but really it’s the first step that a child takes into the real world. The skills learned in kindergarten will be carried with the child forever. “Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand box at nursery school” (Fulghum 4). However, children’s learning capabilities are at there peak at earlier ages than that.

Preschool is the special tool for an educated future, but few people pay attention to or care about preschool’s potential benefits. Children are valuable to the future of the country, but the government has largely ignored them. At the Federal level, the government should make it a law that every child should enter preschool and also create free preschools available to all families. Preschool is a tool that would improve our children’s performance in school by giving them a head start in education, lower the risk of being placed in special education or being held back a grade, developing social skills, and lowering the crime rate.

Although you might think that preschool is just a place for parents to drop off their children while they are at work for the day, you’re wrong. It is in preschool where children learn the necessary skills needed to succeed in school and in life. It’s not only the children who reap the benefits of early childhood education; their parents, fellow peers, and even society feel the positive effects of quality preschool programs. Children enrolled in quality preschool programs are more likely to succeed academically and socially when they are older.

In preschool your child will listen to poetry and songs — building blocks needed to grasp phonics and reading skills when it is developmentally appropriate. The play that takes place with water, sand, and containers gives them the foundation for understanding some basic math concepts. Matching, sequencing, one-to-one correspondence are all activities that are done over and over in preschool settings and help children get ready to learn academics. Judy Packer, a pre-k teacher at French Elementary School in Jackson says, “Children learn more in their early years than they ever will again.

With the dissolution of the extended family, the best way to support early learning is with publicly funded pre-K. ” Quality pre-K programs helps children by helping them accomplish something all families want for them: success in K-12. School success in turn, is a path to life success – to children’s ability to graduate from high school, support themselves as adults, to own homes, stay out of trouble with the law, and eventually raise their own families.

Referring back to Graduation by Maya Angelou she briefly described what it felt like to graduate from high school, as she tells the story, the importance of this day for Angelou grows beyond that of the typical graduation. These days preschool has a big impact on whether a student will graduate or not. Quality preschool boosts our K-12 schools by laying a learning foundation that enables children to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn, play and build on their self confidence. Preschool lifts a burden off our K-12 public schools by ensuring that all children have the chance to start strong in school.

Kindergarten teachers know from experience what a positive contribution preschool makes toward children’s success in school, also the kindergarten teachers see first hand the difference between kids who have experienced quality preschool and those who haven’t. References Amos, Denise. “No More Nappy Time-Kindergarten’s Serious”. Enquirer 06 April. 2005: 4-7 Atkins-Burnett, Sally, and Samuel J. Meisels. Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention. New York: Cambridge, 2000. Elovson, Allana PhD. The Kindergarten Survival Handbook: The Before School Checklist & a Guide for Parents.

New York: Parent Ed Resources, 1993 Fulghum, Robert. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. New York: Ballantine, 1986 Gisler, Peggy Ed. S. , and Marge Eberts Ed. S.. “Education Q & A with…” Family Education Online (2005): 4 pars. 17 Nov. 2005 Meisels, S. J. , S. Atkins-Burnett, and J. Nicholson. “Assessment of social Competence, Adaptive behaviors, and Approaches to Learning with Young Children. ” National Center for Education Statistics (1996) 6 Nov. 2005 Mueller, Cheryl. Conference Call. 5 March. 2009 Packer, Judy. Personal Interview. 24 March. 2009 Schweinhart, Lawrence J.

, and Xiang Zongping. “ The Michigan School Readiness Program Evaluation through Age 10. ” High Scope Ed (2002):3-9. 23 Nov. 2005 Tozer, Steven E. , Guy Senese, and Paul C. Violas. School and Society Historical & Contemporary Perspectives fifth edition. New York: McGraw, 2002. Walston, Jill. Education Statistics Services Institute 28 June 2004-cited in Ellovoson West, Jerry. “Delaying Kindergarten: Effects on Test Scores and Childcare Costs. ” Education Week Magazine 27 Feb 2004:1-3 West, Jerry. Education Statistics Services Institute 07 June 2004-cited in Ellovoson.

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