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Preschool Education In Today's World: Teaching Children with Diverse Background and Abilities


Future early childhood educators need to know how to teach all young learners effectively?including children with diverse cultural, linguistic, and economic backgrounds and children with special needs. This core textbook equips early childhood educators with the knowledge they'll need to succeed in the classroom and ensure the best outcomes for young children.

M. Susan Burns, co-editor of the National Research Council's seminal Eager to Learn report, partnered with two other ...

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Future early childhood educators need to know how to teach all young learners effectively—including children with diverse cultural, linguistic, and economic backgrounds and children with special needs. This core textbook equips early childhood educators with the knowledge they'll need to succeed in the classroom and ensure the best outcomes for young children.

M. Susan Burns, co-editor of the National Research Council's seminal Eager to Learn report, partnered with two other respected ECE experts (one a current early childhood teacher) to develop a highly accessible text that's perfectly in tune with the realities of today's diverse classrooms. Ideal for teaching the basics of early childhood education to undergraduate and community college students, this textbook is everything future educators need:

  • Field tested, both in the author's courses at George Mason University and a Head Start-University partnership for professional development in Washington, D.C.
  • Focused solely on preschool settings and the teaching strategies most effective for that specific age group
  • Inclusive, so teachers can skillfully meet the needs of the diverse students they're sure to encounter in their classrooms
  • Aligned with NAEYC, CEC, and TESOL standards—includes a clear matrix of correlations between the book's content and the standards for easy reference
  • Student friendly—packed with learning objectives, case studies, photos, self-reflection and study questions, helpful section summaries, and a glossary
  • Concise and clear, so pre-service educators are likely to read the whole text and keep it for years as a reference
  • Comprehensive, covering everything from the history and legislation of early childhood education to specific educational strategies

With this expertly organized collection of essential information on early childhood education, tomorrow's preschool teachers will enter the classroom prepared and motivated to give all children a great start in school.

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Editorial Reviews

Nancy Freeman

"A unique contribution to preschool teachers' professional education. It provides a useful overview of foundational theorists in cognitive, social/emotional, language and physical development; learning; and curriculum."
Chief Officer, Office of Early Childhood Education, Chicago Public Schools - Barbara T. Bowman
"This book has everything: history, theory, and best practice. It also provides important information for serving special populations— children with special needs, English language learners, and children from low income families. The perfect first text."
Consultant, Early Childhood Development and Education; Affiliate Faculty, Applied Developmental Psychology, George Mason - Marilou Hyson
It is a delight to discover an introductory textbook that does not talk down to students, and one that does not marginalize issues of diversity but places them at the forefront of skilled practice. With this text, beginning students are set on a path to 21st century professionalism.
Dean, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia - Mark R. Ginsberg
"The key ingredient for facilitating school readiness and life success is quality– in short, quality matters and must be understood in the context of the backgrounds and abilities that young children bring to their early childhood education experience. This new volume is an important resource that will help teachers, administrators and others who work in this critical field to better understand and provide a high quality early childhood education to ALL children."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598571950
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mona M. Assaf, M.Ed., Head Start Teacher and Doctoral Candidate at George Mason University, Post Office Box 114, Oakton, Virginia 22124

Ms. Assaf has been a Head Start teacher in a large public school district for the last 8 years, and she has conducted research in community Head Start programs. She is passionate about improving educational opportunities for culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse young children and their families.

M. Susan Burns, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, George Mason University, Graduate School of Education, MS 4B3, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 22030

Dr. Burns is Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at George Mason University. Her research centers on the development and learning of young children (birth through Grade 3). Her work includes all children: those with diverse abilities (children with disabilities), those living in poverty, and those from multilingual and multicultural backgrounds. Of particular interest to Dr. Burns are language and early literacy development. She has numerous publications presenting her research in these areas. A former employee at the National Research Council, she is a coeditor of Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, and Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success, all publications of the National Academy Press of the National Academies of Science. She earned her Ph.D. degree in psychology at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.

Richard T. Johnson, Ed.D., Professor, Institute for Teacher Education, College of Education, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1776 University Avenue, Everly Hall 223D, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

Dr. Johnson is a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he is on the faculty of the Institute for Teacher Education. His recent research and field-based work includes no-touch policies in education, risk, childhood subjectivity, and visual culture. He has taught and served extensively in various field-based preservice early childhood/ elementary teacher education programs for more than 20 years. He earned his Ed.D. degree at Vanderbilt University.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 4 of Preschool Education in Today's World, by M. Susan Burns, Ph.D., Richard T. Johnson, Ed.D., & Mona M Assaf, M.Ed. Copyright© 2011 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

The Core of Early Childhood Education Today

In the previous section, we addressed the environment and supplies needed for children's learning. In this section, we address the core of ECE: play, interactions, and building relationships with families. These concepts are introduced here and elaborated on in Chapters 5–9, especially as they relate to learning centers that address the whole child—including approaches to learning, social, emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development, as well as preschool content areas of creative arts, social studies, numeracy, science, and literacy. Treasuring every interaction with the child and building relationships with families serve as the foundations of education in all early childhood programs.


Research has demonstrated evidence of the strong connections between quality of play during the preschool years and children's readiness for school instruction (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2000). Supportive, well-supplied classrooms are essential for development to take place. Stimulation from the environment changes the very physiology of the brain, interlocking nature and nurture (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Further, research has directly linked play to children's ability to master academic content, such as literacy and numeracy (Hyson, 2008; Rogers & Sawyers, 1998).

In constructive play, materials are set up in a manner that promotes a specific goal or problem to explore through the play. Multiple types of materials should be available with which children can explore (e.g., sorting, classifying, looking at part/whole relationships, equivalences, experimenting with real-life number problems, making predictions and comparisons, seeing the impact of gravity, cause and effect). In a similar manner, materials and environments can focus on socioemotional development by having children act out scary concepts, frightening experiences, or something troubling they have seen on the news. Problem solving and different approaches to learning can be developed, as well as specific skills and concepts across all developmental areas.

Play promotes grounding of socially shared meaning for both physical and social worlds (Bruner & Olsen, 1977). Sociodramatic play is a type of play in which language plays the central role; extensive language use is often viewed as a key feature of mature play (Bodrova & Leong, 2008; Smilansky, 1968; Smilansky & Shefatya, 1990). In sociodramatic play, children develop a scenario that they want to play out. This might be one chosen from a book that had been recently read in class or from events in the children's lives (e.g., going to the grocery store). The scenarios are often played out in the block center or sociodramatic play center with a number of children. Pretending is a central concept: Children pretend to be in certain roles and use pretend objects and situations. Bodrova and Leong (2003) also pointed out how such sociodramatic play can be encouraged with fewer children or even with a child playing alone (e.g., in the sand table or art center). In these cases, toy people can be included in all learning centers so that a child can assign roles to figures and proceed to act out different play scenarios. Bodrova and Leong (2008) suggested that this type of play should be highly encouraged in all classroom learning centers. Teachers are intentional in promoting play: They Purposefully plan and provide learning opportunities designed to meet the individual needs and interests of the various children in instructional settings. They use knowledge of effective practices and stra

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