Playing to Our Strengths: Finding Innovation in Children’s and Teachers’ Imaginative Expertise

Wohlwend, Karen E.
Language arts

This article reviews recent research on young children’s literacy learning, with a focus on innovative ideas that reclaim a longstanding ethos in early childhood education: child over curriculum. This means the emphasis is on learning with the young child rather than teaching to cover the curriculum. I begin by reviewing early literacy studies that take a strength orientation to development, diversity, and technology in order to highlight fresh approaches that use play to activate children’s imaginative expertise. In other words, this synthesis examines early literacy approaches that assume children are capable, curious, and active learners who learn through play, inquiry, and exploration and produce texts with technologies and resources that are in actual use in their families, communities, and cultures. I then discuss how to make space for innovative curriculum as well as provide suggestions for programs and policies that build on a strength orientation to teaching.