I am writing this to discourage the school board from adopting the new state-mandated textbook-based curriculum from being implemented in the school. Even though the new curriculum has been mandated by the state, it is imperative to understand that developmentally appropriate practices have been proven to be the most effective curriculum for early childhood development and also it provides lifetime literacy skills which cannot be realized by a textbook based curriculum. Developmentally appropriate practice can be said to be the teaching approach that is based on qualitative and quantitative research on the development and learning of children at an early age and is designed in a way that inspires and promotes learning and early childhood development (Essa, 2012).
It can be regarded as the kind of practice in early childhood education and development that is critical in meeting individual children at their stages of development while working within a group (Gestwicki, 2013). This is imperative in enabling children to surmount challenges they face in learning both individually and as part of a group. When engaged in learning, kids are able to overcome when teachers having knowledge of each child as well as their stages of development. On the other hand, a textbook based curriculum involves the use of curricula in textbooks and teaching students based on the material in the books therein. This kind of curriculum, in my view, is not only narrow but also limited in the amount of knowledge children are required to learn because it limits teachers to the material in the textbook and also limits the knowledge children gain from their educators.
Some of the benefits of appropriate practices in early childhood development arising from the challenges is that they seek to address issues likely to affect children in the future. One of the benefits includes reducing learning gaps in children. DAP has been shown to reduce learning gaps between children coming from different backgrounds. Disparities in school performance especially in higher levels of education can be traced back to early childhood development (Gestwicki, 2013). This is because different backgrounds determine, to a large extent access to quality education in early developmental stages and literacy development at that stage as well. Children coming from poor backgrounds have difficulties in vocabulary and this affects their language from an early stage. Therefore, under developmentally appropriate practices, teachers are able to engage children from such backgrounds effectively by meeting them at their level and working towards creating literacy levels that can enable them to compete globally later on in life. However, a textbook based curriculum does not address the learning gap or deficiencies in language and vocabulary in children from disadvantaged backgrounds due to its inclination on the developed material contained in the textbooks (Essa, 2012).
Another benefit of DAP is the recognition of the knowledge a teacher has in influencing the decisions they make regarding effective education. Teacher autonomy is embedded in DAP and varies in different contexts because the skills, judgment and knowledge that teachers have are imperative in effective teaching of children. Availing teachers an opportunity to engage in decision making regarding particular children and in groups translates to greater benefits for children because such educators are allowed to use their skills in advancing the literacy levels of children at different levels of knowledge and from different backgrounds. The flipside of the mandated textbook-based curriculum is the removal of decision making from teachers that engage with the children directly and relegating that duty to developers of the curriculum who have little or no experience of what happens in the classroom. In addition, the teachers are also sidelined in the development of such a curriculum along with the assessment and this introduces an education system that is result oriented but blind to the developmental and educational needs of children at an early age. Due to the difference in school culture and individual children’s cultures, DAP provides an opportunity for teachers to develop literacy in children regardless of their backgrounds due to its focus on both individual literacy development and group development. Textbook-based curriculum on the other hand ignores the differences in cultures and this negatively affects early childhood development.
Instead of adopting the state-mandated textbook-based curriculum, it would be better to adopt practices in developmentally appropriate practices in increasing literacy. Engaging early childhood educators with the best practice in curriculum development and understanding the challenges faced by the teachers due to differences in the upbringing of children and the socio-economic factors of the families they come from is important. This is because it helps in developing a curriculum that ensures literacy levels are higher in kindergartens regardless of their backgrounds. Therefore, rather than adopting the new state-mandated policy, the school can integrate the material required in the textbook-based curriculum and tweak it with developmentally appropriate practices that have proven effective in literacy skills development.
Essa, E. L. (2012). Introduction to early childhood education. Cengage Learning.
Gestwicki, C. (2013). Developmentally appropriate practice: Curriculum and development in early education. Cengage Learning.
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