The Importance of Being Little

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis

LB 1140.35 .P37 C47 2016

“To a four-year-old watching bulldozers at a construction site or chasing butterflies in flight, the world is awash with promise. Little children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain. These mismatched expectations wreak havoc on the family: parents fear that if they choose the “wrong” program, their child won’t get into the “right” college. But Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis says our fears are wildly misplaced. Our anxiety about our children’s futures has reached a fever pitch at a time when, ironically, science gives us more certainty than ever before that young children are exceptionally strong thinkers.

In her pathbreaking book, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers nuanced, real-life solutions to real-life issues that move past the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play. She looks at children’s use of language, their artistic expressions, the way their imaginations grow, and how they build deep emotional bonds to stretch the boundaries of their small worlds. Rather than clutter their worlds with more and more stuff, sometimes our wisest course is to learn how to get out of their way.

Christakis’s message is energizing and reassuring: young children are inherently powerful, and they (and their parents) will flourish if we can revitalize the early learning environment. Her bold and pragmatic challenge to the conventional wisdom peels back the mystery of childhood, revealing a place that’s rich with possibility.”
– publisher description

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