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May 11, 2015

Connect4Learning jumpstarts science and math for preschoolers


Preschoolers engaged, teachers enthusiastic about moving math and science to the head of the class

The 4-year-olds at All Souls School in Englewood, Colo., are learning their shapes and numbers within a science lesson about sea creatures. It's a new approach to early childhood education that focuses more attention on science and math while incorporating important literacy connections along the way.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), University of Denver education professors Julie Sarama and Douglas Clements are part of the team that developed the research-based Connect4Learning (C4L), which blends academics, social and emotional development, and play for the pre-K set, with high expectations for learning for teachers and kids alike.

Sarama and Clements analyze videos of Connect4Learning in action to research the efficacy of this approach and to find even better ways to connect with children of all backgrounds, particularly those in struggling schools and difficult home circumstances.

The C4L author team includes experts in all four domains. Nell K. Duke is a professor of literacy, language, and culture and a faculty affiliate in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan. She studies early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Kimberly Brenneman is Program Officer for Education at the Heising-Simons Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kimberly was research faculty at Rutgers University's National Institute for Early Education Research where she led projects focused on curricular and instructional practices to foster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning for young children in school and home settings. Mary Louise Hemmeter is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and is a co-faculty director of the Susan Gray School for Children. She studies professional development, strategies for preventing and addressing challenging behavior, and instructional approaches for young children with disabilities.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1313718, Early Childhood Education in the Context of Mathematics, Science and Literacy.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Marsha Walton, Science Nation Producer


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