The Outdoor Classroom

Yesterday, we were in the midst of a blizzard here in Connecticut! There’s nothing like shoveling heavy, wet snow while being pummeled by hail to make me appreciate being inside next to a cozy fire while preparing for next week’s Outdoor Classroom webinar! I do hope you’ll join me, but for now, I wanted to share […]

02.22.2017 Executive Director Blog: The Elements of Teaching

The Elements of Teaching Peg Oliveira, Executive Director The periodic table reveals an almost miraculous regularity. In it, the haphazard truths —observed piecemeal by so many individuals day-to-day, over centuries across the world— serendipitously fall in line. In its elemental predictability, a reassurance of order beneath the chaos. As a psychologist, the periodic table has […]

2.12.16 NLS BLOG: Number 4. Movement Develops More Than Muscles

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the importance of movement, physical activity, and physical education and its role in our educational system. We come across articles on a regular basis relating childhood obesity rates to lack of physical activity in our young children. Schools across the country have piloted programs to increase […]

12.17.15 NLS BLOG: Number 5. Knowledge of Specific Ages and Stages of Development is the Key to the Best Learning Environment

Knowledge of specific ages and stages of development is the key to the best learning environment Setting the Stage: Understanding the Importance of Ages and Stages “Parents and teachers who think that the child is so plastic that he can be made over by strenuous pressure, have failed to grasp the true nature of the […]

11.19.15 NLS Blog: Number 6. Self­ Regulation Skills Are Of Utmost Importance

Billy begins his morning walking into the classroom and his mom attempts a quick goodbye as Billy grasps onto her leg sobbing for her not to leave. During circle time, Billy’s teacher begins reading a story. Billy begins wiggling in his seat and gazes out a nearby window. Before snack time, Billy is asked to […]

11.19.15 NO COST/LOW COST ACTIVITIES FOR EVERY KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOM

A PLAN FOR PLAY: NO COST/LOW COST ACTIVITIES FOR EVERY KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOM 1. Establishment a block center and the dramatic play center 2. Room arrangement conducive for Center Time and Circle Time 3. Linear Calendar 4. Line Leader Chart with clothes pins moving daily 5. Play plans (Plan, Do, Review) 6. Emphasize Daily Schedule/routines moving […]

10.22.15 NLS Blog: Number 7. Explore, question, search and GROW !

Top 10 Countdown – What Every Early Childhood Educator Should Know Number 7. Explore, question, search and GROW If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we […]

9.17.15 NLS Blog: Number 8. Too much too soon can lead to less success later

Top Ten Countdown: What Every Early Childhood Educator Should Know   Number 8. Too much too soon can lead to less success later   Our society has made a definite statement about what we should expect from children and the speed in which they should grow and learn. Our educational system has continued to “push […]

9.16.15 PLAY IS LEARNING

My Weekly Reader, October 4, 1972   Jackie Haines came to the Gesell Institute in 1969 and retired in 2002 after serving her last 12 years as Executive Director.  She continues to be a wonderful friend, advisor, and supporter of Gesell Institute activities.  She recently came across this piece which she thinks Dr. Ilg wrote […]

8.10.15 NLS Blog: Number 9. It’s all about teacher-child relationships; really it’s all about the teacher

Every parent hopes their child likes his/her teacher and that the teacher has positive feelings about their child in return. It makes sense that having a strong teacher/child relationship would have a positive influence on school success. Not surprisingly, research has shown that “relationships with teachers are a foundational component of young children’s experience in […]

7.16.15 Number 10. Every child is completely unique: not all “4 year olds” are the same

Many people are surprised when they learn that our educational system in America was formed based on a “factory model”. Due to the views at the time on intellectual enlightenment and the economic industrial revolution, our education system was designed to batch children by age and educate everyone the same way. (See Ken Robinson’s complete […]

6.16.15 NLS Blog: Top 10 Countdown – What Every Early Childhood Educator Should Know (new series!)

  10.  Every child is completely unique: not all “4 year olds” are the same   It’s all about teacher-child relationships, really it’s all about the teacher   Too much too soon can lead to less success later   Explore, question, search and GROW   Self-regulation skills are of utmost importance   Knowledge of specific […]

5.26 Fine Motor Development Is Not “Fine” in Kindergarten

A new and disturbing phenomenon is rising on the Kindergarten horizon and it may start in infancy. Kindergarten children are coming to school with a lack fine motor skills (fingers and hands) due to increased use of technology and less use of crayons, markers, chalk, paints, pencils, and scissors in their daily lives. One headline […]

5.13 NLS Blog: “Your Six Year Old”

Kindergarten teachers are always receiving feedback and concerns about their kindergarten child as they grow and change. It dawned on me that many of our children are six or will be turning six. The six-year-old is a complex child, and so very different from the five-year-old. No wonder Dr. Ilg and Dr. Ames of the […]

4.24 NLS Blog: What’s REALLY Important During the Early Years

I came across an exceptional article this month written by Sara Mead, published in US News and World Report (http://www.usnews.com/opinion/knowledge-bank/2015/04/09/what-early-childhood-education-programs-can-teach-k-12-schools). It is well written, has great references, and of course includes valuable content. However, I think what I love most about it is the way it weaves together many of the relevant issues in early […]

4.21 Marcy’s Message Blog: “Opt In to Developmentally Appropriate Practice!”

Our local paper had this Opinion Cartoon: Two kids were talking to each other outside a school, each had an Opt Out of Testing T-shirt on. The one child says, “My dad says this is just the beginning! It is going to spread to all 56 states!” More and more stories are surfacing about the […]

3.19 NLS Blog: Starting EARLY: Developing Responsibility

I believe that when I read, hear, or see something more than once, I better pay attention and evaluate what I am taking in. Recently, I came across the following article in the Huffington Post regarding the importance of developing responsibility in children during the early years. Study Finds Habits in Children Take Root by […]

2.11 NLS Blog: Educational Expectations and Teacher Responsibility: What We CAN Do!

There is a universal debate in the educational field, which continues to resurface and conflict administrators and teachers alike. Are our expectations too much too soon for children? The foundation for this dilemma is the way in which we have structured our educational system, NOT any one set of standards or curricula. Our expectation is […]

2.10 Guest Blog: Gesell First to Include Twins in Research

Guest Blog by Eve-Marie Arce, Ed.D.   Twins are often mentioned in the media today, especially in the context of their births to celebrity parents. As you might expect, the number of twins in our general population has increased consistently since 1980. The twin birth rate in 2012 reached 33.1 per 1000 total births (Martin […]

2.6.15 Blog: Gesell Developmental Assessment Better Than Ever: Have You Heard?

Time to time, I come across professionals who still are not aware that the Gesell assessments have new normative data (published in 2011) and that the old assessments, of course, are no longer supported. Sometimes these people say negative things about the Gesell assessments that are no longer true. Gesell assessments have been under criticism […]

1.22.15 NLS Blog: The New Three R’s – Building a Better Today and Tomorrow

Chances are, if you have recently participated in or listened to a conversation about early childhood education, you might have heard some talk about the brain, executive functioning, and self-regulatory skills. Educators and public policy makers alike have recently focused their attention and research on executive function and self-regulatory skills. For some of us these […]

12.16.14 NLS blog post: Relationship is the HEART of Learning


This is the final post in our blog series “Five Ways To Keep It Developmentally Appropriate”. It has been a wonderful journey exploring practical concepts to ensure our daily interactions with children are truly developmentally appropriate. Developmentally appropriate environments happen when parents and teachers keep individual children and their developmental process in mind. There is […]

11.10.14 Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers and Screen Time

Screens, screens, and more screens!  Everywhere I go I see more and more young children being negatively affected by screens.  When we go out to eat, the next table has a preschooler playing with an i-Pad instead of having quality time interacting with his/her parents in a meaningful conversation.  When I am driving my car, […]

10.28.14 Play, Play, Play!

When our children PLAY, they LEARN!  This is a reminder to both schools and home, that children (of all ages) learn when they PLAY! However during the early childhood years (birth to age 8), PLAY is also the medium for developing some very critical foundational skills.  Through PLAY, our children learn how to use language […]

10.21.14 A Special Visit to the Institute

Dear All, Yesterday we were visited by two of Dr. Gesell’s grandchildren.  Anne and Rex were the children of Gesell’s daughter, Tassy.  The visit was arranged by the Grant a Wish Foundation.  It was Anne’s wish to see the place where her grandfather worked.  I think Anne very much enjoyed the trip (from WS), as […]

10.17.14 Standardized Testing Under Pressure

The Washington Post on October 15, 2014 has an excellent article, “School standardized testing is under growing attack, leaders pledge changes.”  We feel this article is right on, and directly coincides with Gesell Institute of Child Development’s philosophy. “A child is more than a score,” said Dr. Arnold Gesell (1880-1961) a Yale professor and pediatrician […]

10.1.14 Helping Your Child Succeed Academically from Birth

Four pieces of news caught my eye last week and I think there is a relationship among them;   The Way to Beat Poverty by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, New York Times, September. 12, 2014. Kindergarten Entry Age: Student Age and the Collegiate Pathway by Holly Yettick, Education Week, September 17, 2014. The Secret […]

9.30.14 FIVE Ways to Keep It “Developmentally Appropriate” – Part III

 3. Environment, Experiences, and Exceptional Interactions What we KNOW for certain is that the amount, quality, and meaningfulness of the above play an invaluable role in the development of children in many areas including brain, cognitive, social, emotional, language, and academic development. Exposure to new ideas, meaningful interactions with others, hands-on experiences, and building on prior […]

9.12.14 Common Sense for the Common Core

Common Sense for the Common Core The following blog was prepared for and posted on www.Kompan.com website.  Kompan is an international playground company that has always kept the principles of child development as a basis for their playground designs; thus they are a friend of Gesell Institute and of International Play Association.  Check out IPA […]

8.5.14 FIVE Ways to Keep It “Developmentally Appropriate” – Part II

2. MEET them where they’re at! Doing what we’ve always done can set some children up for failure in the first few days of kindergarten. We tend to follow suit with what the “norm” is, and we base our decisions on these norms. One example is the idea that all children must start formal schooling, […]

8.5.14 Child Development: Ten Principles that Everyone Needs to Know

Gesell Institute of Child Development’s Mission Statement: To promote the principles of child development for all decision making about young children. The study of child development is a fascinating science. How does a child develop in the first few years of life? The beginning part is well known by all—along comes a baby, somehow, some […]

7.15.14 FIVE Ways to Keep It “Developmentally Appropriate” – Part I

Number 1: KNOW your stuff! Knowing how children grow and when they are ready for different learning experiences is the first step for parents and educators to fully support and scaffold growth and development. Many teachers are surprised at their lack of knowledge in the area of child development once trained fully in the developmental […]

6.25.14 Three Critical Issues in ECE

Three critical issues facing the field of early childhood education, in my opinion, are Kindergartens that look and function like Grade 1, elementary school principals who lack training in early childhood education and child development, and the weaknesses in our teacher preparation/certification programs coupled with the low wages paid preK teachers who are not in […]

6.24.14 Parenting Styles

This is an amazing story. A study of 6 year olds and their parents found that parents who promoted a less structured day had children with more executive functioning!  These children were better able to set and reach their own goals without pressure from their parents.  Parentswho structured the child’s day with organized sports, religious activities, lessons, etc had […]

6.10.14 New Heckman Equation Video

  Promote healthier lifestyles and prevent chronic disease. Be the first to preview Medical Compliance Starts at Birth, the latest video from the Heckman Equation. This 2-minute video highlights Professor Heckman’s latest findings that disadvantaged children who receive quality early health care and education are more likely to demonstrate self-control, follow doctors’ instructions and lead […]

6.4.14 FIVE Ways to keep it “Developmentally Appropriate”

Parents and teachers are feeling the constant pull of “faster, further, earlier” when it comes to our children and their learning. The truth is, children are unique in their growth process, and a few simple principles can help us guide them more successfully through their development journey. 1. KNOW your stuff! We prepare for most […]

5.23.14 Summer Training Offerings

NEW FOR 2014! Professional Development for Early Educators, Elementary Educators, and Parents Customizable Training Topics include: COMMON CORE how to create developmentally appropriate lessons aligned to CCSS PLAY the imporance of PLAY and how to design plans that increase learning through play CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT designing curriculum that is age-appropriate and meets the needs of the […]

5.16.14 Ten Facts about Kindergarten that Parents Need to Know

1. Kindergarten today is more academic today than in the past; in spite of research including our own Gesell Institute’s national research that showed 3-6 year old children are not reaching developmental milestones any sooner than in the past. Overly academic Kindergartens can harm some children. 2. Many children are simply “not ready” for the […]

5.1.14 CCSS in Kindergarten for Boys

Yesterday I had a revelation concerning the CCSS in K for boys!  We have been working here at the Gesell Institute over the past few months with slicing and dicing our national data from our study (2011) of 3-6 olds on our Gesell developmental assessment.  One thing we are looking at is the difference between […]

3.14.14 Professional development webinars in April/May 2014

Does your staff still need professional development hours? Looking for a new idea for a staff meeting? Are you a parent looking for information about child development? Are you working on a CDA? Gesell Institute is offering a four-part webinar series,and the first session is FREE! Individuals can register in our online bookstore. 4/15/14  4-5pm EST The Three-to-Five-Year-Old:  […]

2.19.14 ‘Whole Child Development’ – the key to raising test scores the right way

Two articles arrived at my desk last week.  The first one, uses research to position Kindergarten curriculum as not being challenging enough for five year olds. The second one is the polar opposite. Recent research by Gesell Institute revealed that children are not developing any faster, nor reaching the major cognitive milestones any sooner, than […]

1.31.14 Gesell Institute Pleads: Best Practice for the Common Core

Gesell Institute of Child Development is calling for best practice for the Common Core State Standards  or for any set of learning standards – which means applying the principles of child development when teaching young children. All early childhood programs birth to age eight—be it publicly funded, private, Head Start, childcare, prestigious prep schools, religiously […]

1.27.14 The Heckman Equation with a Focus on Quality

Have your heard of Dr. James J. Heckman? He is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, and 2000 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics. Dr. Heckman has been spreading the word across the nation to politicians, businessmen, policy makers, educators, and parents that investing in quality pre-K programs is […]

1.15.14 Screen Time vs. Play Time

There was a great Q & A in one of Sunday’s newspaper advice columns. The parent, who does not allow her preschool child to watch TV or other screens, asked how to handle the situation with TV viewing (and other screens) when visiting the homes of the child’s friends. The answer was to simply tell […]

12.3.2013 Are You Participating In This National Day Of Action?

  Attending NAEYC’s 2013 Annual Conference last week, and being with like-minded child advocates, is always a renewing and invigorating experience! This year I attended two sessions presented by Diane Levin, Professor of Early Childhood at Wheelock College and co-founder of Defending the Early Years. One of the sessions was about “remote-controlled children!”  Her message […]

11.22.13 The Three-Way Pressure Cooker

Today Dr. Marcy Guddemi presented, “A Three-Way Pressure Cooker: How Parents, the Media & Schools Can Harm Children” at the 2013 NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, DC. During the afternoon session she shared how today’s pressures –even parents/teachers thinking they want/know what is best for their children or students (technology-wise) — can harm […]

11.15.13 Gesell Institute Is Being Ignored

It was brought to my attention this week that Diane Ravitch posted on her blog that people have ignored our warning about the Common Core State Standards. Read Ravitch’s blog here!

11.8.13 Developmentally Appropriate Practice (D.A.P)

Developmentally Appropriate Practice is so important if we want to give children the right start in life.  Please read this article!  Sooner is not better even though our country seems to be obsessed with this notion. You can also follow Not Just Cute on Twitter at @NotJustCute Click here to read, “The Cost of Ignoring […]

11.1.13 Grit Is It

Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance:  Skills of the 21 Century. Google “grit” and see what you get!  Grit is the new buzz word in education. From TED Talks (http://bit.ly/16t597Q) to US Government reports (http://1.usa.gov/1f8QH7o) everyone is recognizing that content alone is not enough to be successful either in school or later in career. Grit is what […]

10.22.13 A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy

Another article I just read today was  A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting All Students Reading by Third Grade. A sad fact is that most Kindergartens in CT, and other states as well, are focusing only on the mechanics of reading and not including the other essentials elements of reading such as Content Knowledge, […]