The Research Behind What We Do Every Day at Green Acres School

Progressive education is a collection of powerful ideas about teaching and learning. Since 1934, Green Acres has championed this approach, which is informed and supported by current research. What are our core beliefs?

  • Teaching what is most needed for success in the 21st century: challenging academics, leadership, communication, problem solving, and collaboration.
  • Learning in an engaging program that values depth over breadth, application of knowledge over memorization, active participation over passive learning, emphasis on both process and product, and authentic assessments rather than only paper-and-pencil tasks and standardized tests.
  • Practicing active citizenship, compassion, and respect, and empowering students to contribute to improving society. 
  • Encouraging children to take initiative, know themselves as students, and develop their natural curiosity, intellectual passions, and intrinsic motivation to learn.
  • Respecting students as individuals, learners, and contributors and attending to children’s intellectual capabilities and interests, as well as to their social, emotional, and developmental needs. 

To explore additional research and resources that inform what we do every day at Green Acres, please click on the topics below:

Love of Learning: Progressive Education

Bruner, J.S. (1977). The process of education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

In this seminal book, Bruner explains that children can understand a myriad of concepts, even at very young ages. He believes that curriculum in schools should encourage and extend this understanding. Bruner advocates for the importance of active discovery and self-directed learning for children. He proposes that educators adopt a “spiral curriculum,” in which ideas are taught to children in different ways depending on children’s developmental stages, with the same concepts retaught in increasingly sophisticated and complex ways.

Dewey, J. (1964). John Dewey on education: Selected writings. R. Archambault (ed.). New York: Modern Library.

This collection of Dewey’s writings contains discussions of his philosophy, principles, and theories as they pertain to education, serving as an essential framework for understanding the critical ideas and concepts undergirding progressive education.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Macmillan.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. Free Press.

John Dewey is a renowned psychologist, educator, and philosopher who is considered by many to be the leader in the American progressive education movement. In these two books, Dewey advocates for learning to be meaningful in students’ lives, for schools to be “authentic” models of democracy, for learners to think critically, solve problems, “learn by doing,” and spend time reflecting on their learning experiences, among other topics.

Engel, B.S., & Marin, A.C. (2005). Holding values: What we mean by progressive education: essays by members of the North Dakota Study Group. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 

These essays critique current policies in education and provide clear statements of progressive education practice. Important topics addressed include the ways children learn, testing, evaluation and assessment, staff development, racial diversity and community.  The essays are “jargon free” explanations of ideas embodied in the progressive perspective.

Erikson, E.H. (1964). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.

This book explains Erickson’s beliefs about the eight stages of psychosocial development focused on how humans grow and develop through their interactions with others.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.

In this, the most renowned work of the Brazilian educational philosopher, Freire analyzes the transformational nature of education, viewing it as a means of looking critically at the world and making change happen.

Kohn, A. (2015). Schooling beyond measure & other unorthodox essays about education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Kohn, A. (2011). Feel-bad education: And other contrarian essays on children and schooling. Boston: Beacon Press.

Kohn, A. (2008). Progressive education: Why it's hard to beat, but also hard to find.

In this article, Alfie Kohn identifies the core values practiced by progressive schools. These include a focus on: the whole child, community, collaboration, social justice, intrinsic motivation, deep understanding, democracy, constructivism (children making their own meaning from the world around them), excellent teaching, and taking children seriously. Kohn defines progressive education as a “tradition” which is well supported by research. He debunks numerous myths about progressive education and makes the case for popularizing this effective approach which highlights the learner. 

Kohn, A. (2000). The case against standardized testing: Raising the scores, ruining the schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Kohn, A. (1999). The schools our children deserve: Moving beyond traditional classrooms and "tougher standards." Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Kohn, A. (1993). Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, praise, and other bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

In these writings written by renowned author Alfie Kohn, the author presents his ideas about children, how they best learn, and what their experiences should be in school.

Little, T., & Ellison, K. (2015). Loving learning: How progressive education can save America’s schools. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

In this compelling book, Little describes his visits to a myriad of progressive schools across the country in search of common, compelling principles and values that lie at the core of the progressive education philosophy.

Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (1969). The psychology of the child. New York: Basic Books.

The famous work of the psychologist who examined and explained the stages of children’s psychological and cognitive development, including how thinking, reasoning, and knowledge develop.

Sizer, T. R. (1996). Horace's hope: what works for the American high school. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“A stirring personal meditation on what works-and what doesn't-in our high schools today. Revisiting America's classrooms, Sizer assesses the changes over the past decade and a half—from school choice to interdisciplinary learning—that give us reason to be hopeful.” (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=20025841778&searchurl=&cmtrack_data=cm_abecat%3D100200012)

Sizer, T. R. (1992). Horace’s school: redesigning the American high school. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“Sizer emphasizes minimum testing, maximizing student work into individual exhibitions and portfolios, and expecting lots of hard work and commitment from all parties. He rejects the 'shopping mall' approach to schools, instead proposing that students concentrate on an in-depth study of a few themes rather than attempting passively to absorb the whole gamut of the so-called comprehensive education.” (https://www.amazon.com/Horaces-School-Redesigning-American-High-ebook/dp/B0089VWYS8)

Sizer, T. R. (1985). Horace's compromise: The dilemma of the American high school. (Updated ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“This best-selling classic is Theodore Sizer's eloquent call to arms for school reform. In a new preface, Sizer addresses the encouraging movements afoot today for better schools, smaller classes, and fully educated students. Yet, while much has changed for the better in the classroom, much remains the same: rushed classes, mindless tests, overworked teachers. Sizer's insistence that we do more than just compromise for our children's educational futures resonates just as strongly today as it did two decades ago.” (http://www.amazon.com/Horaces-Compromise-Dilemma-American-School/dp/0618516069)

Sizer, T. R., & Sizer, N. F. (1999). The students are watching: schools and the moral contract. Boston: Beacon Press.

“In this groundbreaking book, Theodore and Nancy Sizer insist that students learn not just from their classes but from their school's routines and rituals, especially about matters of character. They convince us once again of what we may have forgotten: that we need to create schools that constantly demonstrate a belief in their students.” (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/206017/the-students-are-watching-by-theodore-r-sizer/9780807031216/)

Vygotsky, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

The most well-known work of this Russian cognitive psychologist, in which he introduces the concept of the “zone of proximal development” and “scaffolding,” two phrases that are now part of the education parlance.

Why Attend a Pre-K–8th Grade School?

Hollander, C. N. (2012). Why K–8 schools may be better for middle school students.

Kamenetz, A. (2016). Sixth grade is tough; it helps to be ‘top dog.’

This article presents a 2016 research study that shows that middle schoolers in K–8 schools tend to feel safer and experience less bullying, less fighting, and a greater sense of belonging. 

Rothbart, M. W., Schwartz, A. E., & Stiefel, L. (2016). Do top dogs rule in middle school? Evidence on bullying, safety, and belonging.

This research study “provides the first credibly causal evidence that top dog status improves the learning environment and academic achievement.” 

Tamer, M. (2015). Do middle schools make sense?

Thompson, M., Grace, C.O., & Cohen, L. J. (2001). Best friends, worst enemies: understanding the social lives of children. New York: Ballantine Books.

In this book, the authors investigate the importance of friendship in the lives of children from infancy through their teenage years. They examine the levels of complexity that exist in the social lives of children, discussing why children behave as they do in relationship with others. 

Yecke, C. P. (2006). Mayhem in the middle: Why we should shift to K–8.

Inspiring Teaching

Balingit, M. (2016). Teachers are using theater and dance to teach math—and it’s working.

Balingit describes arts integration as an effective and successful method of encouraging children to learn concepts in an engaging and enjoyable way. When children participate in arts activities, they develop better comprehension of a subject matter—math, in this case. Abstract concepts become concrete, and children enjoy learning in ways that incorporate their imaginations.

Carini, Patricia F. (2001). Starting strong: A different look at children, schools, and standards. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

In this book, Carini argues for the importance of creativity in schools, where children should actively construct meaning about the world around them through engaging in activities such as art, writing, and building. She advocates for a vision of schools as places where children can experience the freedom and joy of learning.

Duckworth, Eleanor. (2006). The having of wonderful ideas: And other essays on teaching and learning. New York: Teachers College Press.

In this book, Duckworth presents her theory that “the essence of the child's intellectual development lies not in the progressive accomplishment of Piagetian tasks, but in the child's testing out the ideas that she or he finds significant. This process of testing out ideas, she argues, is critical for the child's cognitive growth.” (http://hepg.org/her-home/issues/harvard-educational-review-volume-42,-issue-2/herarticle/_1001).

Duckworth, Eleanor. “Tell me more:” Listening to learners explain. (2001). New York: Teachers College Press.

This book portrays “people involved in real learning. Features include: critical examinations of philosophical and psychological ideas about learning; examples of the power of the human mind to come alive across a range of subject matters and situations; and suggestions for pedagogical and curricular pathways that schools can initiate.”  (http://www.amazon.com/Tell-Me-More-Listening-Learners/dp/0807740403)

Gardner, H. (1994). Creating minds: An anatomy of creativity seen through the lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. New York: Basic Books.

This book uses “portraits of seven extraordinary individuals to reveal the patterns that drive the creative process—and to demonstrate how circumstance also plays an indispensable role in creative success.” (http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Minds-Creativity-Einstein-Stravinsky/dp/0465027741)

Holman, C. (2015). The case for letting kids design their own play.

Holman’s article advocates for the importance of children’s self-directed play and suggests that children should play with toys that do not come with “pre-defined identities and stories” and are not gender identified, but rather, that allow children to use their imaginations to create their own narratives and purposes. The author explains how using objects that can shift purposes and fit into different narrative structures can build children’s imaginations, enable them to develop empathy, and contribute toward the creation of their identities—all important effects of imaginative play.

Krechevsky, M., Mardell, B., Rivards, M., & Wilson, D. (2013). Visible learners: Promoting Reggio-inspired approaches in all schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

This book describes the ways in which teachers can “make learning visible” by documenting their students’ learning as it unfolds. Using a Reggio-inspired approach as a foundation, the authors have created vignettes about children of various ages in different subject areas, all of them sharing a focus on capturing student learning.

McTighe, J., O'Connor, K. (2005). Seven practices for effective learning.

The authors of this article define and explain the three kinds of assessment practices (ways to discover what students know and understand) commonly used in classrooms: summative, diagnostic, and formative. They recommend the use of seven assessment practices which they believe both measure and encourage student learning.

Nadworny, E. (2016). How adults can encourage kids to be original thinkers.

In this interview with Adam Grant, author of the book Originals, Nadworthy explores Grant’s views about parenting and teaching. Grant suggests that if parents focus on values and responsibility, rather than on rules, their children will be more likely to become risk takers and original thinkers. Grant applauds teaching practices which promote original thinking, including the use of the jigsaw model of cooperative learning. He recommends that teachers first encourage children to think creatively on their own, and then to work in groups with others.

Perrone, V. (1991). A letter to teachers: Reflections on schooling and the art of teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

“Teaching after all is about knowing children well." In this book, Perrone reflects on his many years of close observation of schools and school people, parents, teachers, children, and their communities. It is simple, elegant and full of common sense. These reflections on the art of teaching address the deepest concerns teachers have for their work with children and young people.  

Pink, D. H. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York: Riverhead Books.

In this book, Pink outlines the ways in which creativity and “right brain” thinking will assume critical importance in the future.  Pink describes six “senses” which are important aptitudes which contribute to personal and professional success.

Strachota, B. (1996). On their side: Helping children take charge of their learning. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.

This book suggests “many strategies for helping children untangle the riddles of learning and ethical behavior. He shows how to ally with children, how to ask real questions and how to share responsibility with students -- always setting high standards while giving children the power they need to take charge of their learning and behavior.” (http://www.amazon.com/Their-Side-Helping-Children-Learning/dp/0961863633)

Tomlinson, C. A. (2003). Fulfilling the promise of a differentiated classroom: Strategies and tools for responsive teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

"To truly engage learners, teachers must realize that how they teach is as important as what they teach. In this book, Tomlinson revisits her responsive teaching principles." (http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Fulfilling-the-Promise-of-the-Differentiated-Classroom.aspx)

Rigor and Well-Being Should Go Hand in Hand

Abeles, V., Congdon, J., Attia, M., Constantinou, S., Adler, M., & Reel Link Films. (2011). Race to nowhere. Lafayette, CA: Reel Link Films. 

This thought-provoking documentary film examines the stress and pressure under which our nation’s students suffer. The filmmakers lay bare the “mental health epidemic” caused by America’s “achievement-obsessed education system and culture.”

Bruni, F. (2015). Today’s exhausted superkids.

In this article, Bruni laments the transformation of childhood into an "insanely programmed, status-obsessed, and sometimes spirit-sapping race" and attributes this change to why kids are often sleep deprived. He asks readers to consider ways in which we can promote children's mental and physical health and perhaps redefine our understanding of "achievement" in this day and age.

Crain, W.C. (2003). Reclaiming childhood: letting children be children in our achievement-oriented society. New York: Times Books.

Crain asserts that parents should reconsider the overscheduling of their children, choosing instead to grant their children the gift of experiencing time and free exploration with art and language, and in nature. The author argues for the value of an education that revolves around the whole child.

Feiler, B. (2013). Overscheduled children: How big a problem? 

In this article, Feiler explores the question of whether or not today’s children are overscheduled with extracurricular activities. After speaking with a number of experts, Feiler concludes that it is not the number of activities that is critical—it is the attitude of parents toward those activities that makes a difference. Feiler maintains that parents should focus on their child’s enjoyment of the activities and how the activities contribute to the child’s sense of well-being. The author argues for a balance between extracurricular activities and unstructured, “phone-free” time with parents. 

Klass, P. (2016). Helping our school-age children sleep better.

Klass’s article about sleep is an important reminder about how sleep impacts so many aspects of children’s lives, including academic achievement, executive function, and attention, among other factors. The author advocates that parents maintain consistent sleep habits and routines for their children and avoid screen time before bed.

Levine, M. (2006). The price of privilege: How parental pressure and material advantage are creating a generation of disconnected and unhappy kids. New York: Harper Collins.

Levine explores the ways in which a growing number of children who have the benefits of material comforts are experiencing serious problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and anxiety. She suggests that materialism and the pressure that these children feel to achieve contributes to the development of these issues. Levine describes the ways in which parents can combat these problems and raise happy children who feel good about themselves. 

Rabin, R. C. (2015). Teenagers aren’t getting enough exercise at school, or anywhere.

In this article, Rabin presents a study that suggests that school may be partly to blame for teenagers' sedentary behavior. The research concludes that teens "would be more active if there were more opportunity for physical activity at school."

Brain Research & A Growth Mindset

Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (1993). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.

Dweck presents the reader with research and a compelling argument about how ability and competence are not “fixed;” rather, they grow and develop through perseverance and repeated practice.

Gardner, H. (1991). The unschooled mind: How children think and how schools should teach. New York: BasicBooks.

Jensen, E. (2001). Arts with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Ostroff, W. L. (2012). Understanding how young children learn: Bringing the science of child development to the classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sullo, B. (2009). The motivated student: Unlocking the enthusiasm for learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wolfe, P. (2001). Brain matters: Translating research into classroom practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

"Everyone agrees that what we do in schools should be based on what we know about how our brain learns. Until recently, however, we have had few clues to unlock the secrets of the brain. Now, research from the neurosciences has greatly improved our understanding of the learning process, and we have a much more solid foundation on which to base educational decisions." (http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Brain-Matters-Translating-Research-into-Classroom-Practice-2nd-Edition.aspx)

Beyond Standardized Testing & Grades

Kohn, A. (2015). Schooling beyond measure & other unorthodox essays about education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Kohn, A. (2000). The case against standardized testing: Raising the scores, ruining the schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Kohn, A. (1993). Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, praise, and other bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

In these books written by renowned author Alfie Kohn, the author presents his ideas about children, how they best learn, and what their experiences should be in school. “Kohn’s criticisms of competition and rewards have been widely discussed and debated, and he has been described in Time magazine as ‘perhaps the country’s most outspoken critic of education’s fixation on grades [and] test scores.’” (http://www.alfiekohn.org)

Meier, D. (2002). In schools we trust: Creating communities of learning in an era of testing and standardization. Boston: Beacon Press.

In this book, Meier criticizes an American overemphasis on standardized testing, which she believes prevents many of our schools from becoming the learning environments which students deserve. Meier posits that, instead, schools can be environments centered on trust and the good judgement of teachers, students, and parents.

Homework

Bennett, S., Kalish, N. (2006). The case against homework: How homework is hurting our children and what we can do about it. New York: Crown Publishing.

Bennett and Kalish tackle the subject of homework in all of its complexities. They reveal that homework, a regular part of school life, is not a topic that teachers study in their education training. The authors point to the lack of research evidence for the benefits of homework, particularly at the elementary level, and they explore the ways in which homework negatively impacts family life and relationships, as well as the health and emotional lives of children.

Kohn, A. (2006). The homework myth: Why our kids get too much of a bad thing. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Life Long.

In this important book, Kohn explores the topic of homework, which is commonly assumed to be beneficial for children, despite the fact that its use is largely unsupported by research. Kohn attributes the popularity and overuse of homework to factors such as an overemphasis on competitiveness. The author describes the ways in which homework places undue stress on families, and he presents an alternate path that will “rescue our families and our children’s love of learning.”

Kralovec, E., & Buell, J. (2000). The end of homework: How homework disrupts families, overburdens children, and limits learning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

In their book, the authors argue against homework, examining the lack of studies supporting it. They explore the ways in which homework impacts families and how homework places some children at a disadvantage.

Vatterott, C. (2009). Rethinking homework: Best practices that support diverse needs. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

In her book, Vatterott describes the negative impact of homework. She asserts that the research supporting homework is not necessarily valid or reliable, and that it does not prove homework’s effectiveness. She suggests a new approach to homework and provides readers with examples what this approach can look like in school.

Diversity & Social Justice

Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

“'To respect the many differences between people'—this is what Howard Gardner says is the purpose of learning about multiple intelligences (MI) theory, which holds that the human mind is composed of eight intelligences—linguistic, logical‐mathematical, spatial, bodily‐kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic—plus a possible ninth (existential)." (http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Multiple-Intelligences-in-the-Classroom-3rd-Edition.aspx

Meier, D. (2002). In schools we trust: Creating communities of learning in an era of testing and standardization. Boston: Beacon Press.

In this book, Meier criticizes an American overemphasis on standardized testing, which she believes prevents many of our schools from becoming the learning environments which students deserve. Meier posits that, instead, schools can be environments centered on trust and the good judgement of teachers, students, and parents.

Nieto, S. (2000). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education. New York: Longman.

Nieto explores the meaning, necessity, and benefits of multicultural education for students from all backgrounds in the United States.

Phillips, K. W. (2014). How diversity makes us smarter.

In this intriguing article, Phillips builds a compelling, research-based case for the myriad ways in which social diversity promotes innovation, creativity, and hard work.

Social, Emotional & Moral Development of Children

Armstrong, T. (2006). The best schools: How human development research should inform educational practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

"Thomas Armstrong urges educators to return to the great thinkers of the past 100 years—Dewey, Piaget, Elkind, Erikson—and to the language of human development and the whole child. This book highlights examples of educational programs that are honoring students’ differences, using developmentally appropriate practices, and promoting a humane approach to education that includes an emphasis on play for early childhood learning, theme and project‐based learning for elementary students, and active learning that recognizes the social, emotional, and metacognitive needs of adolescents in middle school." (http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/The-Best-Schools.aspx)

Elias, M. J. (1997). Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

"Fostering knowledgeable, responsible, and caring students is one of the most urgent challenges facing schools, families, and communities as we enter the 21st century. True academic success and lasting social effectiveness require strong social and emotional skills. Students today face unparalleled demands. In addition to achieving academically, they must learn to work cooperatively, make responsible decisions, resist negative peer and media influences, contribute constructively to their family and community, function in an increasingly diverse society, and acquire the skills, attitudes, and values necessary to become productive workers and citizens." (https://www.abebooks.com/9780871205711/Promoting-Social-Emotional-Learning-Guidelines-0871205718/plp)

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

"Through vivid examples, Goleman delineates the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence, and shows how they determine our success in relationships, work, and even our physical well-being. What emerges is an entirely new way to talk about being smart." (https://books.google.com/books/about/Emotional_Intelligence.html?id=TQQlAQAAIAAJ)

Heffernan, L., Wallace, J. (2016). To get into college, Harvard report advocates for kindness instead of overachieving.

This article discusses the ways in which Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is attempting to make the college admissions process less pressured for high school students and more focused on kindness, personal and family responsibility, and authentic experiences, balancing school work and involvement in extracurricular activities.

Isaacs, W. (1999). Dialogue and the art of thinking together: A pioneering approach to communicating in business and in life. New York: Currency.

Isaacs “demonstrates that dialogue is more than just the exchange of words, but rather, the embrace of different points of view.” (http://www.amazon.com/Dialogue-Thinking-Together-William-Isaacs/dp/0385479999).

Meier, Deborah. (1996). "Supposing that." Phi Delta Kappan, 78(4), 271-276. PDF

Meier poses an interesting question: What if all schools cultivated the joy and curiosity which children typically experience in kindergarten? Meier describes the importance of all students engaging in experiences familiar to them from kindergarten: having “big conversations,” developing self-confidence, experiencing the freedom to explore a range of ideas, and taking social and emotional risks. In kindergarten, children are encouraged to develop skepticism and empathy, pursue their passions, and develop an understanding of what it means to be citizens in a democracy. These are important for students to experience at all ages and stages. In short, the author argues that the “intellectual habits and dispositions” that are traditional hallmarks of kindergarten should be the foundation of educating students in all grades.

Miller, C.C. (2015). Why what you learned in preschool is crucial at work.

According to Miller, work has "become more like preschool" as "skills like cooperation, empathy, and flexibility have become increasingly vital in modern-day work." She argues that these non-cognitive skills should be taught beyond the preschool level in order for students to be prepared for "the actual world of work."

Strachota, Bob. (1996). On their side: Helping children take charge of their learning. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.

This book suggests “many strategies for helping children untangle the riddles of learning and ethical behavior. He shows how to ally with children, how to ask real questions and how to share responsibility with students—always setting high standards while giving children the power they need to take charge of their learning and behavior.” (http://www.amazon.com/Their-Side-Helping-Children-Learning/dp/0961863633).

Wood, C. (1997). Yardsticks: Children in the classroom, ages 4–14: A resource for parents and teachers. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.

Parents and teachers alike have, for many years, used Chip Wood's seminal book about developmental milestones and children's social, emotional, and physical developmental stages.

The Value of Learning Outdoors

Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

“'Today's kids are increasingly disconnected from the natural world,' says child advocacy expert Louv, even as research shows that 'thoughtful exposure of youngsters to nature can... be… powerful.' Gathering thoughts from parents, teachers, researchers, environmentalists and other concerned parties, Louv argues for a return to an awareness of and appreciation for the natural world. Not only can nature teach kids science and nurture their creativity, he says, nature needs its children: where else will its future stewards come from? Louv's book is a call to action, full of warnings—but also full of ideas for change." (http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-56512-391-5)

Mongeau, L. (2015). Preschool without walls.

Mongeau’s article chronicles the experiences of numerous schools that emphasize the rich and valuable advantages children enjoy by spending time outdoors, exposing themselves to the joys of nature. A remedy for the “nature deficit disorder” to which a number of authors and educators refer, spending unstructured time outdoors, no matter what the weather, offers children numerous advantages such as avoiding childhood obesity, improving  attention, and reducing stress, as well as cultivating an awe of the natural world.

Mooney, C. (2016). Why green spaces are good for your kid's brain.

This article presents a research study that finds "myriad additional benefits for schoolchildren who go to schools that feature lots of green spaces and natural scenery." The research suggests that when children are exposed to more greenery, they experience improved attention and "superior working memory." 

Nature Explore

A website that “transforms children’s lives through research-based outdoor classroom design services, educator workshops, and natural products.”

Learning through Play

The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (Cornell University). (2016). What do early learners need most? Play! 

This article discusses how formal learning in schools is occurring at increasingly younger ages. Such a trend decreases the amount of play in which young children are engaging. This is unfortunate, as play benefits young children in vital ways, providing them with the skills necessary for success in school and in life. These include critical literacy, social, and emotional skills.

Holman, C. (2015). The case for letting kids design their own play.

Holman’s article advocates for the importance of children’s self-directed play and suggests that children should play with toys that do not come with “pre-defined identities and stories” and are not gender identified, but rather, that allow children to use their imaginations to create their own narratives and purposes. The author explains how using objects that can shift purposes and fit into different narrative structures can build children’s imaginations, enable them to develop empathy, and contribute toward the creation of their identities—all important effects of imaginative play.

Wong, A. (2016). Why kids need recess.

In this article, Wong cites research suggesting that recess boosts cognition, academic performance, and concentration. "Perhaps most important," Wong posits, "recess allows children to design their own games, to test their abilities, to role-play, and to mediate their own conflicts—activities that are key to developing social skills and navigating complicated situations."

Parenting

Cohen, L.J. (2001). Playful parenting: a bold new way to nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, and encourage children's confidence. New York: Ballantine Books.

In this book, Cohen explains that play is how children come to know the world around them. When they play with their children, parents build strong relationships with them. He explores the ways in which children use the context of play to grapple with stress, emotion, and conflict. 

Ginott, H. G. (1972). Teacher and child: A book for parents and teachers. New York: Macmillan.

“…a straightforward prescription for empathetic yet disciplined child rearing” which lays out for parents new communication techniques that would change the way parents spoke with, and listened to, their children.” (http://www.amazon.com/Between-Parent-Child-Revolutionized-Communication/dp/0609809881/ref=pd_sim_14_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51oZxdhUrwL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_A)

Kohn, A. (2016). The myth of the spoiled child: coddled kids, helicopter parents, and other phony crises. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

In this book, Kohn asserts that it is better to be an overindulgent and overly permissive parent that to be overly controlling. He argues against assertions that poor parenting involves being too protective and permissive with children.

Kohn, A. (2005). Unconditional parenting: moving from rewards and punishment to love and reason. New York: Atria Books.

In this book, Kohn argues against widely-used discipline approaches and techniques, such as time-outs, for example. He asserts that what children most need from parents is unconditional love, support, and acceptance, and he maintains that punishing children works against this vital goal. 

Lawrence-Lightfoot, S. (2003). The essential conversation: what parents and teachers can learn from each other. New York: Random House.

“'The essential conversation' is the crucial exchange that occurs between parents and teachers—a dialogue that takes place more than one hundred million times a year across our country and is both mirror of and metaphor for the larger cultural forces that define family-school relationships and shape the development of our children." (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/98604/the-essential-conversation-by-sara-lawrence-lightfoot/9780345475800/

Levine, M. (2006). The price of privilege: how parental pressure and material advantage are creating a generation of disconnected and unhappy kids. New York: Harper Collins.

Levine explores the ways in which a growing number of children who have the benefits of material comforts are experiencing serious problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and anxiety. She suggests that materialism and the pressure that these children feel to achieve contributes to the development of these issues. Levine describes the ways in which parents can combat these problems and raise happy children who feel good about themselves. 

Mogel, W. (2010). The blessing of a B minus: using Jewish teachings to raise resilient teenagers. New York: Scribner.

Mogel, W. (2001). The blessing of a skinned knee: using Jewish teachings to raise self-reliant children. New York: Scribner.

In this pair of parenting books, Mogel uses Jewish teachings and texts to explore the ways in which loving, well-meaning parents make the mistake of “overprotecting, overscheduling, and overindulging” their children, developing in them a sense of “entitlement and ingratitude.” Parents of teenagers must face the challenge of navigating their teens through the pressures of failure, success, and competition. Mogel presents a different parenting path, which leads to children and teens who are independent, resilient, kind, and compassionate.

Porter, S. E. (2013). Bully nation: why America's approach to childhood aggression is bad for everyone. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.

In Bully Nation, Porter details her view that current definitions of terms such as “bullying,” “bully” and “victim,” have been misinterpreted and incorrectly defined. The author suggests that rather than labeling children and their behavior in these ways, we should look at children’s interactions and realize that some level of aggressive behavior can be a normal part of child development, or can simply be a mistake made by children as they grow and learn how to interact with others. 

Senior, J. (2014). All joy and no fun: the paradox of modern parenthood. New York: Ecco/Harper Collins.

This book explores the myriad of ways in which children impact the lives of their parents. Senior discusses the complex, difficult, and rewarding aspects of modern parenthood. 

Thompson, M., Grace, C.O., & Cohen, L. J. (2001). Best friends, worst enemies: understanding the social lives of children. New York: Ballantine Books.

In this book, the authors investigate the importance of friendship in the lives of children from infancy through their teenage years. They examine the levels of complexity that exist in the social lives of children, discussing why children behave as they do in relationship with others. 

Wood, C. (1997). Yardsticks: children in the classroom, ages 4–14: a resource for parents and teachers. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.

Parents and teachers alike have, for many years, used Chip Wood's seminal book about developmental milestones and children's social, emotional, and physical developmental stages.

Green Acres Authors

Aborn, M. (2006). "An intelligent use for belief." http://ecologyofeducation.net/wsite/an-intelligent-use-for-belief. 127(1), 83–85.

"Over the last three decades there has been a major shift in how practicing educators think about intelligence. One great driving force of this change can be attributed to 'Frames of Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligences,' written by Howard Gardner in 1983. [...] In this article, the author proposes that practitioners, administrators, and parents should [...] broaden their views of what they understand intelligence to be, and not allow it to interfere with the belief they hold in the success of each child with whom they work. He strongly encourages the reader to learn more about the Multiple Intelligences Theory, and then use it to help weave a beautiful tapestry of how students learn." (https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ765804)

Brown, N. M. (2012). Elementary school leadership in an age of anxiety.

In this article for NAIS’ Independent School magazine, our Head of School Neal Brown examines ways in which the rising tide of parental anxiety impacts how many schools currently approach teaching and learning. Rather than being guided by what is best for children, often decisions related to homework, accelerated learning, and the role of “academics” in early childhood education stem from parental angst. This leads unfortunately to a generation of students who are overly stressed, with high rates of depression, and who learn less and feel less positively about school. Brown offers advice to schools and to parents about how to engage kids in ways that best serve them academically and socially/emotionally. 

Huneke, S. K. (2015). Talking about Charlie Hebdo in class: Bending rules to cultivate understanding.

Schnog, N. (2008). We’re teaching books that don’t stack up.

For more than fifteen years, Schnog taught English and American literature at an elite private high school. During those years, she came to understand a bitter educational irony: how, far too often, teachers’ traditional pedagogical approaches to literary study shut down the interest and curiosity of the very students that they were so passionate to serve. Against the backdrop of national concern about teen reading habits and the shift to screen-based culture, this article proposes a shift toward more progressive methods of literary education in order to encourage and promote active reading among adolescents.

Schnog, N. (2009). Preventing "readicide."

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