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Early Childhood Education as Risky Business: Going Beyond What’s

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Author(s): Rebecca S. New | Ben Mardell | David Robinson

Journal: Early Childhood Research & Practice
ISSN 1524-5039

Volume: 7;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: Early Childhood Education | Young Children | Curriculum | Developmentally Appropriate Practices

ABSTRACT
Much has been learned about the possibilities of early childhood education from nations that have long invested in high-quality early care and educational programs. These new understandings are now being used by U.S. early childhood advocates to help parents, policy makers, and others better understand children's vast learning potentials, to acknowledge the deep intellectual work of teachers, and to recognize the rights of parents to help determine the essential features of a challenging and beneficial early childhood curriculum. What is less well acknowledged are cross-cultural insights into the potentials of a "risk-rich" curriculum, one in which both adults and children explore new topics and unfamiliar terrains, including those traditionally identified as developmentally inappropriate and beyond the reach of young children. In this article, the potentials of a "risk-rich" curriculum are explored using examples from the cross-cultural research literature as well as two classrooms of young children—one of 3- and 4-year-olds, the others from a kindergarten class. Teachers' reflections on what they learned about themselves and the children they teach are presented as they reveal untapped potentials of early childhood settings as sites for new discoveries and new relationships.

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