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In recent years, researchers have discovered what early childhood educators have known for a long time...that the early years of life are the most critical for learning. We now know that brain development is directly related to early experience, and we understand that any learning which is sensory in nature promotes optimal growth and development. SEEC recognizes this critical period for young children and emphasizes interactive, multi-sensory learning in everyday activities. SEEC's teachers encourage exploration and discovery, placing objects and works of art at the center of a child’s day. Integrating the rich resources of the community into the curriculum enhances learning.
This 2012 report, prepared by Mary Ellen Munley, looks at the literature that relates to the role "traditional museums" play int eh education of young children and the lives of their families.
The Spring 2008 issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom featured a collaboration with SEEC.
From the Smithsonian in Your Classroom website:
"The lessons here bring collections into the classroom to give tangibility to mathematics - to turn numbers on a page into numbers of actual things. In the first, "A Collection of Artifacts," young students take a close look at something we use every day but rarely think about until it's missing - the button. In early-algebra exercises of sorting and classifying, they organize a collection of random buttons, counting and multiplying them according to attributes. In the second, "A Collection of Natural Objects," students work with seashells and come to see how sorting and classifying relates to the work of scientists."
In a newsletter article for the National Arts Education Association, Dr. Sharon Shaffer discusses the growing recognition of the importance of early childhood education.
View and download a sample lesson plan from SEEC's museum education team.
Growing Young Minds
This 2013 IMLS report discusses the important role that museums and libraries can, and should, play in the education of young children.
Dr. Sharon Shaffer was interviewed about museum schools for the award-winning radio show "Parents' Perspective".
Click here to listen to the podcast.
Click here to watch the video.
Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Visit www.smithsonianeducation.org for education resources for educators, parents and students.
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Arts Education Partnership
National Art Education Association
National Endowment for the Arts
National Building Museum
Corcoran Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center
PO Box 37012, MRC 184
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC 20013-7012