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Association for the Education of Young Children:
Preparing Young Children for the Classroom
Elementary Education in Public Schools
Level Issues (K-5) in Public Schools
Differentiation of Instruction in Elementary Education
Teaching the Way Your Child Learns
Eric Digest: (excerpt)
... if teachers want to maximize their students' individual potential,
they will have to attend to the differences.
Many times, there are educational
concepts that parents are unfamiliar with, simply because we are not a part of
the profession. Differentiation in Instruction is an example of one of
those concepts that most of us have been unaware of. Nothing affects our
children's educational development more directly than the methodology employed
in their instruction. In elementary education especially, we believe that
teaching methods have a dramatic impact upon our children's immediate and long
term academic experience.
In the Eric Digest article,
Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades Carol Ann
Tomlinson writes, " At its most basic level, differentiation consists of the
efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom.
Whenever a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group to vary his or
her teaching in order to create the best learning experience possible, that
teacher is differentiating instruction." She goes on to explain that, "In
most elementary classrooms, some students struggle with learning, others perform
well beyond grade-level expectations, and the rest fit somewhere in between.
Within each of these categories of students, individuals also learn in a variety
of ways and have different interests. To meet the needs of a diverse student
population, many teachers differentiate instruction."
We urge parents of elementary age
children to familiarize themselves with the concept of Differentiation in
Instruction, and to explore the teaching methods that are applied in your
child's classrooms, especially with children that are having difficulties with
primary learning curriculums. Observe your child to see if you can
determine whether or not they seem to grasp materials better verbally, visually,
interactively, etc., and finally, share those observation and concerns with your
child's teacher. Ask how material is
generally presented to the class and by all means, drop in on your child during
the school day to get a first hand view of the teacher's level of interaction
with the students. For more information on Differentiation in Instruction,
see Eric Digest:
Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades.
North Dakota State
University Department of Education
First Grade: Ready or Not?
The National Association of Elementary School Principals
has recommended standards for primary grades which are
very similar to those outlined by the National Association
for the Education of Young Children. The similar
Schools should be ready for the child
and not expect the child to be ready for the school.
Early childhood programs must be based on the ways
children learn, not on how adults prefer to teach.
Since young children learn best
through their senses by doing, learning should be the
outcome of hands-on experience, especially play.
Children should be assigned to
classes as close to the research-based recommended class
sizes as possible: ratios of 2 adults:20 children for 3-
to 5-year-olds and 2 adults:24 children for 6- to
Children should be assessed by
observation, not tested for success or failure. Letter
grades should not be used.
Children will learn more quickly if
they have actively experienced the process of learning
-- in other words, if they have been read to, have acted
out what they have learned, have touched the objects
described, have seen some of the places or people
described, and so forth.
Think about the following questions and
how your child is progressing. Remember, no child should
be expected to accomplish all of these items perfectly
before first grade.
Can your child:
Be away from you all day without
Pay attention to a short story when
it is read and answer questions about it?
Create things with paper, colors,
scissors, markers and glue? (It is not important
to stay in the lines!)
Tie a knot, bow or scarf?
Repeat simple messages?
Remember instructions and carry out
two or three tasks after being told once?
Put a simple puzzle together?
Draw a picture of a person which
includes the head, body, arms and legs?
Draw or copy shapes?
Visit comfortably with people outside
Tell his/her phone number, address,
Identify several colors?
Try to write or copy letters and
Admit he/she doesn't know or needs
More: Assessing your Child, Supporting Your
Curriculum . Technology Quarterly:
Focus on Differentiated Instruction - Q&A
Although most teachers probably have an
intuitive awareness of why differentiated instruction
matters, not all practice it well. Admittedly, learning to
adapt instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners
requires administrative support and practice time. No one,
it seems, would object to so worthwhile an effort. Yet many
teachers fear that teaching to standards may require
standardized instruction--reversing a century of research on
how children learn.
pressure of . . . kindergarten?
some schools, kindergarten is growing more and more
academically focused--particularly on early reading. The
pressure to perform academically is trickling down from
above, many experts say, because of new state and federal
academic standards. (excerpt)
But pushing all kindergartners onto the academic treadmill,
turning kindergarten into an academic boot camp for 1st
grade, can set many kids up for failure before they've even
The Shifting Kindergarten Curriculum: Current
Influences On the Curriculum
(excerpt) Few would
argue that what is now taught and expected to be learned in
many kindergartens is profoundly different from what it was
two decades ago. The shift from play- and group
adjustment-oriented settings to kindergarten classrooms
characterized by direct teaching of discrete skills and
specific expectations for achievement is being reinforced by
recent calls for reform of public education (Elkind, 1986).
Escalating Kindergarten Curriculum
The practice of kindergarten retention is
increasing dramatically. In some districts, as many as 60%
of kindergartners are judged to be unready for first grade.
These children are provided with alternative programming:
developmental kindergarten (followed by regular
kindergarten), transition or pre-first grade, or the
repeating of kindergarten.
Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?
(excerpt) Parents often
have some anxiety around their children
entering school for the first time. Although today many
children attend preschool, which often prepares them for the
routines and learning environment of kindergarten, parents
still may anguish over whether their children will meet the
expectations of kindergarten.