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School funds will guide educators in the wrong direction

THE FUNDING priorities of the Early Learning Challenge grants are misplaced (“State wins $50m grant to assess kindergartners; Winner again in national school innovation contest,’’ Page A1, Dec. 17). They will focus teachers’ attention on assessing specific academic skills in children and not on understanding their development and the complex ways that children learn.

Teachers should not be focused on specific skills in different subject areas, but on understanding how young children develop the tools and capabilities for learning. It is through active, hands-on, play-based experiences that young children develop problem-solving skills, self-regulation, and the conceptual foundation that will provide the basis for later academic learning and success in school.

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There is a serious danger inherent in this funding because it will likely result in teachers trying to teach specific academic skills directly to children instead of giving them the broad learning opportunities appropriate for their stage of development.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige

Professor of early childhood education, Lesley University, Cambridge
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