BFS Within the World of Early Childhood Education

As part of Pre-K for All, BFS is able to take part in the most impactful discussions happening in NYC regarding early childhood education. With De Blasio’s announcement of the rollout of 3k for All, we are poised to continue to be part of this historic initiative to bridge the opportunity gap of our youngest learners. This participation enables us to have our voice be heard in the wider discussions that surround the universal preschool movement at the city, state and national level. These include the standardization of early childhood, the impact of accountability measures on developmentally appropriate practice, and the need for cultural responsiveness in community programs.

Observation drawings in our Rainbow Pre-K for All classroom

Emerging Pre-K Literacy in the Sunshine Classroom

Healthy discourse on these important issues will serve to strengthen our city’s ECE offerings. With 3 year olds soon linked to a 3k-12 continuum, we will continue raising our voice to advocate for young children, and to help ensure that it is not only families who can afford private preschool that have access to progressive, child-centered learning environments.

In the fall of 2015, I enrolled in the Early Childhood Leadership Masters program at Bank Street College of Education, with a grant partially funded by the NYC Department of Education (DOE). Bank Street College is a leader in the progressive education movement, and has been partnering with Pre-K for All program to support its rollout. The DOE has taken an active role in developing and nurturing early childhood teachers and leaders in NYC. This is in line with the DOE’s approach to assuring quality in its contracted programs.  

“New York’s quality approach marries a deep understanding of child development with an understanding of each child’s unique context. The Department of Education has worked tirelessly to hire quality teachers and social workers, provide them with cutting-edge curricula and training, and offers them ongoing coaching and support.”

NY Daily News, 4/25/2017, Bring young brains to full potential with pre-K
Shael Polakow-Suransky, Bank Street College President

Through Bank Street’s Early Childhood Leadership program, ECE directors throughout the city have made connections and utilize each other as resources. I, along with our wonderful teachers, have worked to establish BFS as a resource in regards to building a child-centered curriculum, particularly within the Pre-K for All framework.

Below are some recent examples of how BFS is becoming a vocal participant in the wider ECE community and how we are acting as a resource for other programs interested in creating progressive, child-centered early childhood learning environments. Whether or not BFS chooses to be part of 3K for All in 2021, the early childhood landscape in NYC has been altered by our forward thinking mayor’s initiative, and we are looking forward to continue to be part of the ongoing discussion.

BFS’s Participation in the Wider ECE Community This Year:

  • On February 2nd, 2017, BFS hosted a group of preschool teachers from Kinder Sprouts in Queens who spent 2 hours observing in our classrooms, and engaging in a question and answer period afterwards. Medina Khalil, Sunshine lead teacher will be visiting their school in late May to facilitate a discussion about teacher planning with an emergent curriculum. 
  • For a number of years, we have hosted student teachers from Kingsborough Community College. Some of our student teachers have developed an ongoing relationship with BFS, and have become part of our teaching staff. Professor Glenn Moller is the field supervisor, He loves our long choice times,  the “rich and complex” play and work, and that the children are “engaged and happy”. He chooses to continue placing students in BFS because he feels that his community college students wouldn’t necessarily have exposure otherwise to this type of teaching and learning. 
  • On April 7th, 2017, BFS hosted 12 DOE Pre-K for All Instructional Coordinators (IC’s)  from Districts 13,14 and 15, and we facilitated a workshop entitled: Looking Closely: The Foundation of an Early Childhood Inquiry Approach: When we as early childhood teachers observe and document children's work and play, we are able to discover what they know, what they are wondering, and where we can meet them to inspire deeper thinking and further exploration. 
  • We were asked to develop and facilitate this event by an IC who recognized that her colleagues struggled with understanding how an emergent curriculum approach could align with the NYS PRE-K Foundation for the Common Core Standards, and its attendant assessments. 
  • The CUNY NY Early Childhood Professional Development Institute is creating a summer professional development series for ECE teachers. They want to include a video of toddler teachers talking about their emergent curriculum approach, supported with documentation, as part of the training. They are coming to visit our school this month to meet with the Jitterbug teachers to see if we are the best fit for this project.
  • On June 8th, 2017, which is an NYC-wide professional development day, we are hosting  the preschool staff of A House on Beekman, a community organization in the South Bronx that is beginning the implementation an emergent curriculum, and a study of the Reggio Emilia approach. BFS will be paid by a grant from Showcase Implementation Grants through the DOE. Our teachers will help facilitate the workshop, and work in collaborative groups and discussions with their staff to share how we have built our understanding and practice of these approaches.