Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Importance of Being Little (+ Giveaway)

I have an interesting book to tell you about today that I think you’ll also find quite informative and you can enter to win your own copy.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LITTLE: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis is a bold challenge to the conventional wisdom about early childhood, with a pragmatic program to encourage parents to rethink how and where young children learn best. Parents of young children today are in crisis: Pick the "wrong" preschool and your child won't get into the "right" college.

But our fears are misplaced, according to Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis. Children are hardwired to learn in any setting, but when "learning" is defined by strict lessons and dodgy metrics, it devalues a child's intelligence while placing unfit requirements on the developing brain; we have confused schooling with learning.

What Young Children Really Need from Grownups
◊ by Erika Christakis
◊ Penguin Books
◊ $17.00
◊ On-sale: February 7, 2017
◊ ISBN: 9780143129981 
Available as an eBook

Now available in paperback, the hardcover of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LITTLE was featured on the New York Times Non-fiction Extended Bestseller list and received national review attention such as: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LITTLE makes a bracing and convincing case that early education has reached a point of crisis . . . her book is a rare thing: a serious work of research that also happens to be well-written and personal . . . engaging and important.”—The Washington Post

“What is it like to be a young child?” That is the powerful and fundamental question driving Erika’s revelatory. Strikingly, this question also drives the formation of early education, and as Erika argues in a popular piece in The Atlantic adapted from this book, “The New Preschool is Crushing Kids,” today’s young children are working more, but they’re learning less. In THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LITTLE, Erika celebrates preschoolers’ unique strengths and potential, and offers a radical reevaluation of the how and why of early learning.

Early childhood education is front page news and a platform issue for political candidates, but missing from the discussion of early education are those most directly affected by changes in approach: the children themselves. Early learning is social, and Erika (who has been both a preschool teacher and director), shows parents and educators how sometimes the best thing to do is to get out of children’s way, allowing them space to make discoveries on their own.

Erika describes what a child-focused learning environment really looks like (less is definitely more) and explains why schooling does not always equal learning. Above all, Erika empowers parents and teachers to support their children’s learning potential by observing them closely and trusting in their natural curiosity and drive to learn. Readers will come away with a greater understanding of how to improve a child’s entire learning habitat, from home to preschool and beyond.

Some of the improvements Erika recommends are deceptively simple:

      * The most important predictor of preschool effectiveness is the quality of the relationship between teacher and child. Valuing and promoting this relationship can drastically improve any early childhood education setting. 
      * Declutter the classroom! Children learn best in environments that are clean, open, and inviting. Taking down the lists of vocabulary words, busy decorative borders, and ubiquitous alphabet charts lets little kids engage more deeply with classroom activities. 
       * Focusing on the process of learning rather than the delivery system of curriculum leads to more engagement and better learning. For preschoolers, the environment is the curriculum.

The good news is that young children are hard-wired to learn in any setting, and tools to improve preschools are within reach of any parent and educator. Drawing on pedagogy, science, policy, and politics, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LITTLE offers a clear and rational road map to giving children what they really need.
Erika Christakis, credit Andrea Reese
Erika Christakis is an early childhood educator and school consultant. She was a faculty member at the Yale Child Study Center and is a Massachusetts-certified teacher (pre-K through second grade) and licensed preschool director.

She has an MA in communication from the Annenberg School (Pennsylvania); and a M.Ed. in early childhood education. Her work on children and families has appeared in numerous outlets, including, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Financial Times, the Atlantic, and ABC's Nightline.

This giveaway is for one print copy of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LITTLE by Erika Christakis. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Monday, Feb. 13.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.”

The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you think too much pressure is put on young children to success, especially in pre-school to second or third grade? What about the pressure parents place on themselves to make sure their child gets ‘the right’ education?


  1. Sounds like simpler is better. Parent definitely over-think these things. Forty-fifty years ago, they didn't worry about college at the kindergarten level, and we all turned out pretty good.

  2. This sounds really interesting, Mason, and it's in line with a lot of research about what children need and how they benefit. Thanks for sharing.

  3. A cluttered classroom is just too many distractions anyway.

  4. Parents are too pushy and overdo everything from activities to school. We managed well and succeeded in our lives in the 1950's

  5. I would love to win this! Thank you!


  6. I suppose there might be a little too much pressure to perform on parents and kids these days. It's a lot different than my own "free range" style childhood. But every generation will do things differently. As long as no one is actually trying to harm their child then parents should do what they think is right.

  7. Hi Mason and Erika ... our children should have the opportunity to grow ... we just need to let them have a happy home, a place to grow and learn without restrictions, just a safe place ... cheers Hilary

  8. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article.
    distance education university


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.