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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 4 Introduction times. Preschool and kindergarten teachers do not have to do away with their play areas and extended playtimes in order to address early learning standards. Instead, they can embed standards throughout their curriculum in fun and engaging ways and communicate clearly to administrators and parents about that process. Teaching in this way is hard work! It takes thoughtfulness, knowledge, and attentiveness to each child. In a presentation at a national confer- ence, Barbara Bowman, former president of NAEYC and, until recently, head of the early childhood programs in Chicago Public Schools, showed a slide that said, “It is rocket science!” She explained that she presents this slide whenever she is talking with administrators, policy makers, politi- cians, and parents so that they see the depth of best practices in teaching young children. In the latest edition of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (Copple and Bredekamp 2009), or DAP as it is commonly called, teacher intentionality is emphasized much more than in the first two editions. To quote Barbara Bowman again, “What we do is not haphazard.” Early child- hood educators are intentional in setting up the environment, facilitating high-level play, planning for engaging group times, and knowing each child well. And all of this occurs while educators incorporate goals related to standards, assess children’s performance, and build strong relationships with families. Teaching young children is rocket science! The Value of Play As I work with teachers, I hear them raise concerns about the multiple ex- pectations to which they are held accountable. When trying to incorporate early learning standards in their classrooms, they wonder if they need to act more as instructors teaching children specific skills in small-group work, incorporating more pencil and paper tasks. They ask if playtime should be reduced so that more academic learning can be the focus. They wonder if they need to assess each child’s performance through on-demand tasks or mini-tests. They question whether preschool and kindergarten classrooms now need to look more like classrooms for elementary grade students. Yet they also know young children, and they debate the rightness of “pushing down” curricular practices. They know it isn’t right to use curricular prac- tices from the next grade level—first-grade practices for kindergartners, and kindergarten practices for preschoolers, for example—to force academic COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL