I want to share with you an excerpt from a piece that I recently authored with Beverly Perdue, a former public school teacher and North Carolina’s first female governor. Click here to read the full article on Education Week.
Two competing narratives have taken root in communities of early-childhood education policy and practice:
On one hand, an increased emphasis on numeracy and literacy in a child’s early years comes at the expense of developing the whole child, including the social-emotional learning and executive functioning that have a profound impact on later learning. On the other hand, adopting whole-child curricula in kindergarten that widen the aperture of key learning outcomes to incorporate social interaction, self-regulation, and other psychosocial development milestones puts academic progress at risk.
Such a distinction presents a false choice, with serious implications for student outcomes.
Skepticism of whole-child curricula is, in some ways, not misplaced. But it is outdated. In decades past, some whole-child curricula failed to provide educators with all the resources they needed to address some of the most fundamental dimensions of early-childhood development and foundational learning. While early versions of this approach did not always incorporate explicit attention to all elements of children’s learning and development, educators have made great strides in addressing the core elements of learning that matter most for later development.