Springer Science+Business Media, 2008. — 208 p. — ISBN 978-0-387-79921-6.This new volume in the Search Institute Series on Developmentally Attentive Community and Society represents a milestone in Search Institute’s signature work on the Developmental Assets that children and adolescents need in their lives to succeed. Through the research behind this book, Karen VanderVen links this strength-based, community-based approach to human development o early childhood development and practice. In doing so, she advances a longterm vision of understanding child and adolescent development not merely as a series of discrete stages, but as a trajectory of development in which experiences in each phase of development link to, reinforce, or redirect experiences in other aspects of life. To be sure, VanderVen explores with both breadth and depth a particularly critical time in child development: the early childhood years, ages 3–5. The latest research in numerous fields has only increased our understanding of how important it is for communities to attend to children’s developmental experiences in these crucial years. Positive development in early childhood leads young people on a path to a healthy adulthood; and a lack of positive development in early childhood has a blunting effect that extends into elementary and secondary schooling years. The true measure of our society’s attentiveness to young children, however, is not increased awareness; instead, it is, as VanderVen states in her introduction, “how well we actually do something to ensure that young children develop in positive ways.” Yet many children’s developmental needs are not being met, despite the burgeoning research on appropriate interventions. One of the basic premises of Search Institute’s work in Developmental Assets is that all members of a community can play an important role in meeting young children’s developmental needs in whatever sectors they work and live. To address the gap between knowledge of positive early childhood development and the daily practice of those in all sectors of society charged with meeting the needs of children ages 3–5, VanderVen provides a new framework of Developmental Assets for this age group, guidelines informed by current, credible research, and practical suggestions for application in practice in schools, child-care centers, and family homes. Building Blocks for a Successful Start presents the framework and its theoretical, research, and practice underpinnings, then describes how the framework can help all those who work with young children better build their Developmental Assets in real life.
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