One day physicist Dr. Helen Czerski visited a pond in Winchester in the south of England. She noticed a little girl asking her mother a curious question. The child wanted to know why the duck she was observing didn’t get cold feet. Hmmm… Young children are naturally inquisitive about their surroundings and they ask awesome questions! Their sense of inquiry comes natural to them. I have visited many early childhood classrooms to observe my student teachers. I try not to be seen. I prefer to be like a fly on the wall, however young children usually want to know who I am and why I am there. They generally notice when something is out of place in the environment. Children are relentless seekers of information. Adults can support children by being responsive to their inquiry. We can even try being more like children by following some age-old advice from Jane Austen, “indulge your imagination in every possible flight” (Austen, 1813- Pride and Prejudice).
The term “abecedarian” means to learn the rudiments of something, or alphabetical arrangement. In educational circles, the Abecedarian Project refers to a study which explores the impact of early childhood education on babies who were born between 1972 and 1977. Researchers have been following the babies across their lifespan to determine the impact early childhood educational opportunities have on them. I am so lucky to be able to talk with interesting, smart, and charismatic leaders on our Buttercup iTunes show. Recently, I got a chance to talk with Dr. Craig Ramey who pioneered the legendary Abecedarian Project.
It is amazing to me how researchers can conduct longitudinal studies without losing participants over time. Attrition, or participants dropping out of a study, can be a problem in research. When I asked Dr. Ramey about this he said that as a researcher he tries to share his appreciation for their contribution and treat participants with respect. He and his team do things like send birthday and holiday greeting cards to participants. The work he and his team do to maintain participation by the people in their study has proven a successful strategy because the babies are turning 45 years old this year and are still participating in the Abecedarian Project.
Thank you to Drs. Craig and Sharon Ramey and all involved in the Abecedarian study for your major contribution to child development research. Check out the podcast to hear Dr. Ramey discuss the interesting things they have found about the importance of early childhood education, as well as implications for policy development. http://www.marisamacy.com/podcast/
I can make a proper French onion soup, or onion soup gratinée. Thank you, CIA! The main ingredients are simple—onions and chicken broth. Oh and sherry! The soup’s flavor comes from time. In order to develop the correct flavor, the onions need to cook slowly so they can become caramelized and acquire a deep rich color like espresso. Care needs to be taken so the onions don’t burn.
Gratinée means browned. The brown coloring comes from the onions being scraped on the pot with a wooden spoon for about an hour. Chicken (NOT beef) broth is poured over the onions once they have reached perfection.
Many cooks take a shortcut when making onion soup by using brown beef stock (for the color) instead of chicken stock. Shortcuts can save time. Shortcuts can sometimes make life easier. Shortcuts do not lead to optimal outcomes.
A professor of mine at the University of Oregon once wrote an article about the tyranny of time. He showed how missed opportunities for students in special education can have a significant outcome on child well being and school success. The earlier we can address a child's needs can make a big difference for the child and his/her family.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has a component called Child Find where it is the lead agency's responsibility to locate children eligible for services in a timely manner. No shortcuts, please. Early identification of a delay or disability is of paramount importance in the lives of little ones. Time matters in childhood.