Curriculum Guides Released at N.A.E.Y.C. Conference

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NEW ORLEANS--At its annual conference, held here this month, the National Association for the Education of Young Children released a book designed to flesh out many of the guidelines and principles it has laid out in statements on "developmen-tally appropriate'' practice.

The book offers detailed guidance on curriculum and assessment activities, pointers and case studies on revamping early-childhood curricula, and chapters on addressing the needs of minority children and those with special needs and non-English-language backgrounds.

A second volume, expected next spring, will focus on applying developmentally appropriate curriculum and assessment strategies to specific subjects.

The documents are designed to help address concerns about curriculum content without losing sight of individual differences.

Copies of the guide, "Reaching Potentials: Appropriate Curriculum and Assessment for Young Children, Volume I,'' are available for $7 each from the N.A.E.Y.C., 1834 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009.

The Bank Street College of Education also released its own curriculum guide to programs for young children at the conference.

Anne Mitchell, who edited the book with Judy Davis, said the project, which was launched in 1988, represents the first time the Bank Street approach to early-childhood education has been "put on paper.''

The book is aimed at early-childhood professionals serving children from infancy to age 8 in settings from family day-care homes to Head Start centers to public schools. Besides including chapters on such issues as child development, diversity, observation and assessment, and working with families, it lays out an integrated curriculum for 4- to 8-year-olds.

A companion videotape depicts an integrated social-studies curriculum for 4- and 5-year-olds.

Copies of "Explorations With Young Children: A Curriculum Guide From the Bank Street College of Education,'' are available for $19.95 each; the videotape, "Social Studies: A Way To Integrate Curriculum for Four- and Five-Year Olds,'' is $39.95. Ordering information is available from Gryphon House at (800) 638-0928.

Another videotape showcased at the conference is designed to help revamp kindergarten classrooms.

The video depicts two Hawaii kindergarten programs, one in a public school and one in a private school, to illustrate developmentally appropriate teaching, curriculum, and assessment. It was made by Stephanie S. Feeney, a professor of education at the University of Hawaii, under a McInerny Foundation grant.

Copies of "Teaching the Whole Child in the Kindergarten'' are available for $39 each by calling N.A.E.Y.C. Customer Services, (202) 328-2604.

While the dramatic demonstrations staged at last year's conference to focus attention on low child-care salaries were absent this year, members of the Child Care Employee Caucus who meet regularly at N.A.E.Y.C. conferences--and their supporters--kept the issue alive.

Throughout the convention center, props such as dolls, tools, and representations of money with messages dramatizing child-care workers' poor working conditions were on display to urge those in the field to take action. The caucus also led several sessions related to the Worthy Wage Campaign, an effort launched last year to promote grassroots activities in support of higher wages.

More information can be obtained from the Child Care Employee Project, 6536 Telegraph Ave., Suite A-201, Oakland, Calif. 94609-1114.

The conference also featured a lively panel discussion on the role of child-care unions. While representing a wide range of viewpoints, the panel's conclusion on whether unions can play a major role in resolving the salary issue seemed to be "It depends.''

While Jim Morin, an Oakland, Calif., educator, and Barbara Reisman, the executive director of the New York-based Child Care Action Campaign, highlighted successful examples of union intervention, other early-childhood experts, including Gwen Morgan, Sharon Lynn Kagan, and Helen Taylor, said well-crafted union efforts should be seen as only a single tool in efforts to improve salaries and benefits as well as overall child-care quality.

Some of the panelists also suggested that the effectiveness of unions depends on the size and type of the child-care operation and how adversarial the union's role is.

Others said the kinds of union activity that have been effective in mainstream education--which has clear teacher-entry standards--may not translate as well to early-childhood settings, where standards are less clear.

While the N.A.E.Y.C. has stated that it will not assume the role of a union, some panelists suggested that it provide more information on the topic and move forward with efforts to distribute standards for professional development and prompt more early-childhood programs to become accredited.

While several conference sessions explored ways to eliminate bias and create climates that invite and respect diversity in early-childhood settings, the N.A.E.Y.C. itself has been struggling with how best to represent the interests of its diverse membership.

A discussion paper and videotape previewed at the conference are designed to help N.A.E.Y.C. and its affiliate groups address not only racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, but to represent a wide range of early-childhood professionals in settings of all types and sponsorships.--D.C.

Vol. 12, Issue 12

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