Posts filed under ‘Article’

“Pressure-cooker Kindergarten” – Where are we now?

In 2009, The Boston Globe took a look at a trend of increasing academic demands on our youngest students, their teachers, and families. Even in kindergarten, children and their educators are being subjected to tests and standards “that early childhood researchers agree are developmentally inappropriate, even potentially damaging.” These new expectations arose out of concern for the achievement gap between white students and minorities; mandatory standardized testing was meant to hold schools accountable for all their students. According to Globe, accountability has come at the cost of play time and other activities critical to early brain development. Their special report featured the experiences of educators and experts struggling with the balance between accountability and best practices – many of whom work in the Boston area.

Three years later, what are the academic pressures of the kindergarten classroom? Do the experiences of the teachers in this piece reflect your own? How do you balance accountability with play? What’s changed? What’s stayed the same? Where do you think we should go from here?


Continue Reading April 23, 2012 at 1:22 PM Leave a comment

Handprint Turkeys and the Cotton Ball Snowman: Is There Hope For an Artful America?

I have a coworker at Boston Children’s Museum who has some compelling ideas about nurturing creativity in young children and I’d like to share them with you. Her name is Bridget Matros and she is our Arts Program Manager. She recently contributed a chapter to a book called 20 Under 40. Her chapter is called “Handprint Turkeys and the Cotton Ball Snowman: Is there Hope for an Artful America?” She urges us to think outside the box.

Introduction from the author:
“One might see finger-pointing at craft projects in early learning settings as gratuitous snobbery. Make no mistake, my realm is one of crayons and glue sticks and I’m surely unqualified as an elitist in any arts discipline. I claim only to be a well-positioned observer who has discovered and watched a glaring disconnect for so long that I finally have to step into the arts advocacy ring and sound an alarm -hopefully for the benefit of both the field of arts advocacy and its constituents – society at large. My intention is to share an insider’s view of what kids are learning (and unlearning) about creativity and art before kindergarten, and to shed light on how the situation creates an uphill battle for individuals working towards an arts rich culture. I’ll do a bit of theoretical connect-the-dots, explain myself by sharing (in gory detail) my experiences with families and teachers of young children during my time at Boston Children’s Museum (BCM) and just when the picture becomes horrendously bleak, I’ll offer some simple suggestions on how we can change the status quo for the better.”

Some basic tips Bridget has to share on art making with young children:
1. Materials should be simple. Stick to the basics: glue, scissors, paint, crayons and markers.
2. Let the child lead (back off).
3. Focus on the process not the product.
4. Respect the product – “ it is not yours, it belongs to the artist. Resist tweaking a button for symmetry! “
5. Teach parents, educate them. Send a note home at the beginning of the year to set expectations about art making in your class.
6. Different is better, “weird” is good. Positively reinforce any and all out-of –the box thinking!

Click here to read more from Bridget’s chapter (also available on the “Resources” page).

For information about the book go to:

July 5, 2011 at 4:47 PM Leave a comment

The state of affordable high quality childcare

In December, the Globe published a article titled “The day care squeeze” where the author wrote about the challenge of finding affordable daycare. According to her statistics, Massachusetts has the highest average day care cost in the nation. Childcare for  an infant costs roughly $18,773 dollars a year which is approximately 67% of the average single mom’s salary. I found these statistics to be very alarming and it made me  wonder if, as state and a nation  we will ever be able to find a means to achieve affordable high quality childcare. What are your thoughts on the state of our childcare system? How do you think we can go about improving it?

May 12, 2011 at 1:48 PM Leave a comment

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