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The Power of Intention

by Lisa Porter Kuh and Iris Chin Ponte
May/June 2017
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/the-power-of-intention/5023508/

It was a typical consult request — ­challenging behaviors. The message on my phone: “We just are not sure what to do with this group of children! They just seem to tear apart the room. They are disruptive at circle time and dis­respectful with materials. We need help!” 

We have been teaching and supporting preschool classrooms for years, and we have learned that, most of the time, the problem does not rest solely with the children. Often, the problem rests with the educator’s response to the children and the classroom environment.

As a field, we have polarized ourselves. On one hand, we want to promote play-based experiences and open-ended, creative opportunities with loose parts and multiple entry points. Developmentally Appropriate Practice tells us children learn through play and hands-on offerings (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). On the other hand, teachers are under increasing pressure to build skills to bridge the achievement gap. Teachers feel caught in this divide, fostering an either/or mentality that is counter­productive to children’s growth and development. Here are a few examples of what we are hearing from early education teachers:

“The children are being destructive with materials. They are basically dumping out the container and moving to the next activity without ...

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