The Importance of Being Little

What do young children really need? Erika Christakis explores this question in her new book The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups.


Christakis draws on her experience at the Yale Child Institute Study Center and her time spent working as a preschool teacher to explore this issue. She encourages parents and teachers to ease up on academic workloads for children. This means less of a focus on academic-style early education and more of an emphasis on letting kids explore their world as young people who are powerful and curious learners.


Her concern, as is mine, is that “the distinction between early education and official school seems to be disappearing.” With Kindergarten and Preschool becoming more like first grade, we must try more than ever to enable children to learn by encouraging their artistic expressions, building emotional bonds with friends, sharing stories and providing opportunities for meaningful conversations.

A three and three-month years old girl  practises ballet in Beijing

I first learned about Christakis’ work when I came across this article she wrote for The Atlantic earlier this year. Intrigued by Christakis’ ideas but not sure where to begin? For suggestions and strategies about how to implement her approach, as well as wonderful tips about how to have a meaningful conversation with a child, check out this in-depth interview.

Photos courtesy of The Atlantic


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