They are, and I am excited for the promise of the new school year. In this giant Back to School issue, we focus on the education of young children. I cringe when I hear terms like “rigorous preschool curriculum.” To me, preschool curriculum should be finger painting and jungle gyms. Children need to play, and need to be allowed to develop at the speed that works for them. In this issue, my friend Marcy Guddemi, Executive Director of the Gesell Institute of Child Development, brings you important new findings linking pretend play and executive functioning in young children. Think play is important? Now there’s additional proof. Children who are allowed to engage in pretend play often have higher test scores in both reading and math. And pretend play, which builds executive functioning, is linked to increased language and communication skills, increased creativity and problem solving.
Look around. Our schools are aging. Most were designed for a time when education was limited to textbooks and a teacher who stood facing a classroom, talking to a room of students seated neatly in rows. We no longer teach like this, and most of our schools are woefully inadequate in their design. Many are falling apart, leaking energy like a sieve. In the coming years, it is estimated that our nation will spend hundreds of billions of dollars rebuilding our aging schools. In this issue, Irene Nigaglioni, chairman of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, lays out a plan to make our schools safe, agile, technology-rich, energy wise and conducive to a variety of learning activities. As Irene points out, it is important to maintain our school environments. School facilities impact learning. There is a strong correlation between the places children learn and their ability to succeed.
Also in this issue we have some very good resources for English Language Learners, including an article by Anne Swigard, president of Educational Training Specialists. English language learners are a huge (and often relatively new) challenge for our districts. Anne urges us to preserve the native language. There is growing evidence that a strong native language base is important, if not crucial, to the acquisition of academic English. Without the native language, parents often lack the necessary vocabulary to communicate with and support the academic efforts of their children.
In our Winter issue, we’ll explore the importance of Career and Technical Education to the future of our nation. We’ll also explore the wonderful conferences, seminars and professional development available, and present some popular doctoral education programs as we continue to improve ourselves as educators. And starting in the Winter edition, we’ll begin to recognize companies who are selflessly giving back to our schools. If you have any ideas you would like to share with me, or if you would like to contribute, drop me a line. I can be reached at [email protected] or 704-568-7804.