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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 2 Introduction • How do I do implement developmentally appropriate practices when others demand more accountability? • How do I plan for play experiences, give children choices, and not have absolute chaos? • How do I focus on learning and standards and still nurture the joy of learning? • Is it okay to plan teacher-directed activities? How much of my day should be devoted to group times and how much to play? • How do I implement assessments that really show what the chil- dren are learning and how they are applying their skills? And the question I hear most frequently is • How do I write a lesson plan that shows everything I do that is intentional and preplanned and is also child focused and respon- sive, integrating all of what I know are best practices? This book is my attempt to answer these questions. The Wonders of Teaching Young Children As I said earlier, I think there are wonderful parts to this shift in early education. Let’s consider those wonderful parts. The development of early learning standards for preschool and kindergarten has occurred in all fifty states in America, and many states have developed or are developing stan- dards or guidelines for infant/toddler development. The beauty of early learning standards is that they define reasonable expectations for young children at different age levels. Professionals in the field of early education have written most of these standards, and most are helpful in outlining what young children can do. No longer do teachers have to rely on sources such as developmental checklists and other information to piece together their knowledge base of child development. Early learning standards now serve as the reference point for planning curriculum and assessing young children’s progress. Teachers have a common language grounded in research and endorsed by their state. This gives them a strong foundation from which to teach. That’s good! Clearly defined expectations and greater accountability profession- alize the field of early childhood education. Unfortunately, inadequate wages still prevail for many early educators, but this may shift as the role COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL