The Importance Of Being Little Book Summary By Erika Christakis

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The Importance of Being Little (2016) is a book that dives deep into the powerful and curious minds of children and looks at how our current educational standards, such as testing and standardized worksheets, can limit their natural skills.

The book focuses on the personal development of each child and encourages a better strategy to be implemented.

It looks at not only the social but the psychological aspects of early childhood development, exploring why we must prioritize giving children ample space to learn without pressure and judgement.

It also examines what preschool teachers' roles should be in helping young learners grow, as well as offering parenting advice for savvy mothers and fathers who want to help foster their child's learning process.

In short, this book is an informative read for anyone looking to optimize their child's growth potential.

The Importance Of Being Little Book

Book Name: The Importance of Being Little (What Preschoolers Really Need From Grown-Ups)

Author(s): Erika Christakis

Rating: 4.1/5

Reading Time: 13 Minutes

Categories: Parenting

Author Bio

The Importance of Being Little is a book written by Erika Christakis, a parent and teacher with extensive experience in the field of child development and education policy.

She currently works at Yale University's Child Study Center, which helps to promote awareness surrounding developmental issues in children.

Throughout her career, Erika has dedicated herself to understanding the importance of providing children with tenderness and care they need while giving them the space they need to be curious and independent.

Her expertise as an educator has been invaluable in allowing her to write this informative book that will surely help parents better understand their children's needs.

Why We Should Let Children Be Kids: How Preschools Have Robbed Childhood Of Its Joy


We need to start giving children more freedom, exploration and opportunity to enjoy childhood rather than turning them into “little adults.” Far too often we send our children off to preschools that are using a No Child Left Behind program, which can actually leave most children underdeveloped.

What’s more, teachers in this program rarely get the same respect or financial reward as other professions do.

Rather than teaching preschoolers on how to read a calendar, for example, let’s give them the chance explore nature and wonder about their world.

It is also worth considering taking preschool education away from traditional structures and giving it an experiential setting – with lots of games, art and music!

In short, let’s make preschool great again by providing an environment that is fun yet stimulating enough for young children to grow and develop in meaningful ways.

The Rigid System Of Education In Modern Preschools: What Has Changed And Why It Still Exists

Modern preschools are not conducive to the natural skills and curiosity of children.

Instead of encouraging kids to explore and learn through play, today’s preschools have shifted focus in favor of strict uniformity.

The change in teaching style is due to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which prescribe specific objectives for kindergarteners like “demonstrating command of conventions of standard English grammar.”

This one-size-fits-all approach denies students the opportunity to learn on their own terms and fails to recognize individual talents or learning styles.

It also creates a divide between those who excel in the given curriculum and those who don’t keep up with it as easily.

The cause behind this standardized education system goes back to the 1980s, when women began entering the workforce in greater numbers, resulting in an increase in popularity of preschools as a form of daycare rather than learning centers.

As inequality grew, so did the gap between educational achievement among different social classes – leading to No Child Left Behind legislation attempting to close this gap by establishing a universal curriculum for every child regardless of learning style or personal capacity.

The Increasing Anxiety Of Parents Has Led To A Move Away From Child-Centered Learning In Preschools

When it comes to modern preschools, it’s clear that they are designed more to meet the needs of adults than children.

The growing anxiety and sense of responsibility among parents has led to this approach, with a greater focus on safety than learning.

Public health data is causing parents to be ever more worried about their offspring’s safety and wellbeing, so the answer has been drill-and-practice curriculums in an attempt to emphasize academic achievement over play.

This distrust of child-centered education means there is less focus on playing than ever before, with parents expecting more from their children by teaching them knowledge rather than allowing them to make mistakes while learning through experience.

Research even shows that families from lower income brackets or little education tend to favor this type of learning over play-based one as they believe it would be better for their kids in future life.

Sadly, however, this passive style of Direct Instruction fails to capture young minds – something highlighted by the daily teaching of days of the week and months of the year despite such information often being quickly forgotten from a child’s memory due lack of applicability or relevance.

Poor Understanding Of Children’s Cognitive Abilities Denies Them The Chance To Reach Their Full Potential

Cognitive Abilities

Adults often forget what it’s like to be a child, and in turn underestimate the degree to which children understand their own needs.

This is particularly true when it comes to early education, with adults prioritizing their own needs over those of the children.

However, this overlooks what children are capable of learning.

They have an incredible capacity for taking in new information – for example, babies as young as ten months can tell when they’re being spoken to in different languages.

Rather than foisting a rigid curriculum onto these creative minds, adults should allow kids to explore the world around them, experiment with their interests and develop social skills through play rather than rigor.

But instead we measure children using the same criteria as adults, leading us to quickly judge or label them according to our misguided understanding of childhood development.

These labels can lead us down a dangerous path of perceiving entire swaths of childhood behavior as ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’.

In fact, our approach should take into account that each child is unique and relies on an environment tailored especially for them; one that serves both their physical and mental wellbeing simultaneously.

The Impact Of Low Teacher Salaries And Insufficient Resources On Education Quality

It is becoming increasingly obvious that poor funding for education is limiting the possibilities for improvement.

Steven Barnett from the National Institute for Early Education and Research conducted a study which showed that low teaching salaries are highly correlated with low-quality teaching.

Moreover, very little money is being invested in offering teacher training to those tasked with educating young children; this puts them at a huge disadvantage when trying to make meaningful connections with their students.

Furthermore, limited funding also results in inadequate curriculums.

If resources were instead diverted towards providing individual care and attention to students’ social and developmental needs, there would be more tools available to close the achievement gap.

Unfortunately though, no real budget has been allocated to such strategies.

As a result teachers have shifted towards using standardized vocabulary lists as success metrics, completely neglecting the language development of individuals based on their interests.

The current educational system clearly demonstrates how poverty of resources can hamper any form of development or progress – it makes it impossible for educators to truly provide quality teaching and learning strategies if they don’t even have proper financial backing.

The Power Of Play And Student Engagement In The Learning Experience

It’s no secret that in order for children to benefit the most from their education, trusting relationships with instructors and an environment that supports learning through play are invaluable.

Studies have proven that play not only stimulates cognitive ability, like memory capacity, but it’s also necessary for building survival skills in mammals—including humans.

A key part of this type of learning environment is allowing students to take the lead when engaging with a subject.

An instructor might pose a question or issue related to a topic the students have asked about and then encourage the kids to come up with an answer collectively.

The instructor’s role is to support them by repeating knowledge they already have, not spoon-feeding them the answers.

Involving kids in problem solving on their own helps them develop at their own pace, regardless of the level they’re currently learning at.

It should be recognized just how capable young children are at self-motivated learning; if only we could properly fund education initiatives so this approach can be applied more widely!

How To Guide The Future Of Education Toward Enthusiastic Learning

Future Of Education

It’s essential that preschool education should focus on the individual, personal development of young children.

To achieve this, we must move away from academic teaching and instead prioritize nurturing learning environments where skills like problem solving, organizing and communicating in a group are taught on a daily basis.

Reforming educational funding is necessary to ensure schools have access to the resources they need in order to support individual children—such as quality teacher training, materials, and time.

Investing in this approach can lead to significant improvements in primary and secondary school results later down the line.

Take Finland, for example: its preschool curriculum puts emphasis on children’s independence, self-development and socializing skills.

It’s no wonder their teenage students have some of the highest performance results internationally.

This makes it clear that including age-appropriate activities such as play and games into a child’s education helps them learn transferable skills which will be useful throughout their life.

Ultimately, being able to guide pre-schooling towards an age-appropriate focus on personal development is essential for creating successful schooling methods for all ages.

Wrap Up

The Importance of Being Little by Erika Christakis encourages us to appreciate and value a play-based learning approach for preschool and early education.

The main takeaway of this book is that play-based and trusted relationships are the most important components in early education, as it provides children with a secure and stimulating environment to develop their learning abilities.

Christakis presents evidence on how active learning and providing resources from an early age allows toddlers to become confident, competent, curious learners whose skills they can apply in the future.

By understanding the importance of being little, parents and educators worldwide can use this concept to nurture the growth of their children and students alike.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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