Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to shine the spotlight on a newly-released non-fiction title, “The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups”, written by Early Childhood Education expert, Erika Christakis.
About the Book
Title: The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups | Author: Erika Christakis | Publication Date: February 9, 2016 | Publisher: Viking | Pages: 400 | Recommended Ages: 8+
A bold challenge to the conventional wisdom about early childhood, with a pragmatic program to encourage parents and teachers to rethink how and where young children learn best by taking the child’s eye view of the learning environment.
To a four-year-old watching bulldozers at a construction site or chasing butterflies in flight, the world is awash with promise. Little children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms, learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain. These mismatched expectations wreak havoc on the family: parents fear that if they choose the “wrong” program, their child won’t get into the “right” college. But Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis says our fears are wildly misplaced. Our anxiety about preparing and safeguarding our children’s future seems to have reached a fever pitch at a time when, ironically, science gives us more certainty than ever before that young children are exceptionally strong thinkers.
In her pathbreaking book, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers real-life solutions to real-life issues, with nuance and direction that takes us far beyond the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play. She looks at children’s use of language, their artistic expressions, the way their imaginations grow, and how they build deep emotional bonds to stretch the boundaries of their small worlds. Rather than clutter their worlds with more and more stuff, sometimes the wisest course for us is to learn how to get out of their way.
Christakis’s message is energizing and reassuring: young children are inherently powerful, and they (and their parents) will flourish when we learn new ways of restoring the vital early learning environment to one that is best suited to the littlest learners. This bold and pragmatic challenge to the conventional wisdom peels back the mystery of childhood, revealing a place that’s rich with possibility.
The Buzz About the Book
“Honestly addressing every aspect of a child’s education, the author’s intent here is not to show how to fix things but to start an exchange that encourages us to think differently about education in the early years.” ~ Library Journal (Starred review)
“Sophisticated…Christakis’s rich experience and attentiveness to the details of child behavior and psychology give her approach the power of practical real-world experience.”~ Publishers Weekly
“Fresh advice… A deep, provocative analysis of the current modes of teaching preschoolers and what should be changed to create a more effective learning environment for everyone.”~ Kirkus Reviews
“Teach your children well. It’s easier to sing than do. Erika Christakis wants to foment a revolution in early childhood education, and with this deeply insightful, scientifically grounded, and utterly original book, she may just get her way.” ~ Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“As the experts have bombarded parents with contradictory and ever more demanding advice, childrearing has become more confusing than ever, and the children themselves seem to have been left out of the picture. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and policy makers could have no surer guide through this morass than Erika Christakis. With scientific acumen, irreverent good sense, and a novelist’s eye for human detail, Christakis offers us a judicious view of the new and old realities of bringing up children.” ~ Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate
About the Author: Erika Christakis
Erika Christakis is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Education affiliated with Yale University’s esteemed Child Study Center. An honors graduate of Harvard College, she has a MPH from Johns Hopkins; a MA in communication from the Annenberg School (Pennsylvania); and a M.Ed. in early childhood education, and is a licensed early childhood teacher (pre-K through second grade) and preschool director. She penned a Time.com Ideas column for two years and her work on children and families has appeared in numerous outlets, including CNN.com, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Financial Times, the Atlantic, and ABC’s Nightline.