Universal Pre-K? What experiences really are important for young children?


Watch video of a faculty seminar from Commencement 2014.

Early childhood education is on everyone’s radar today, and there are many assumptions about what experiences children need early in their lives to enable them to be successful in school. Internationally, those countries whose children outperform us tend to begin “formal” education much later than we do in the U.S. This talk will focus on some surprising new research that suggests we may have taken the wrong tack in pushing for academic instruction for younger and younger children. Other kinds of experiences may be more important in the long term.

Appointed in the fall of 1996, Dale Clark Farran is a Professor in the Departments of Teaching and Learning, and Psychology and Human Development in Peabody College at Vanderbilt University; since 2009, she is also the Senior Associate Director of the Peabody Research Institute. Dr. Farran has been involved in research and intervention for high-risk children and youth for all of her professional career. She has conducted research at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center in Chapel Hill, NC and the Kamehameha Schools Early Education Project in Hawaii. Dr. Farran is the editor of two books both dealing with risk and poverty, the author of more than 80 journal articles and book chapters and a regular presenter at national conferences. Her recent research emphasis is on evaluating the effectiveness of alternative preschool curricula for preparing children from low-income families to transition successfully to school. Currently she is directing an evaluation of the Tools of the Mind curriculum and co-directing an evaluation of the State of Tennessee’s Prekindergarten program.