Erika Christakis

  • New York Times Bestselling Author
  • Early Childhood Educator

 

Erika Christakis is an early childhood educator and New York Times best-selling author of The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need From GrownupsFormerly on the faculty of the Yale Child Study Center, she has written and consulted widely about child development from preschool through the college years, drawing on her experiences as a teacher, preschool director, and college administrator. Her work has been featured in media such as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Salon, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal,  and for two years she wrote a column for TIME.com. An honors graduate of Harvard College, she holds master's degrees in public health, communication, and early childhood education. 

 
  

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Rave Reviews About Erika Christakis
Christakis . . . expertly weaves academic research, personal experience and anecdotal evidence into her book . . ."The Importance of Being Little” makes a bracing and convincing case that early education has reached a point of crisis . . . her book is a rare thing: a serious work of research that also happens to be well-written and personal . . . engaging and important.”

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  • Trinity School
  • Sinai Akiba Academy
  • Book Page
  • Science Magazine
  • Mom.me
  • Book Page
  • The Washington Post
Erika Christakis - The Case for Letting Kids Be Kids -The Atlantic Education Summit - Get Sharable Link
Erika Christakis - The Case for Letting Kids Be Kids -The Atlantic Education Summit
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The Importance of Being Little: what young children really need from grownups

Can we repair the early childhood “habitat” in which young children learn and grow? Parents and caregivers will learn early childhood has changed in a generation and will be given evidence-based strategies to support children in the early years, with a special focus on the physical environment, soci ...

Can we repair the early childhood “habitat” in which young children learn and grow? Parents and caregivers will learn early childhood has changed in a generation and will be given evidence-based strategies to support children in the early years, with a special focus on the physical environment, social-emotional learning, and language development.

How to grow a reader: supporting language and literacy in early childhood (without stress and tears)

Reading is one of the most complex and most recent of human achievements and, unlike mathematics, one of the least natural or intuitive. Becoming a good reader requires the integration of many skills, but some children nevertheless learn to read with ease. What does science tell us about how to crea ...

Reading is one of the most complex and most recent of human achievements and, unlike mathematics, one of the least natural or intuitive. Becoming a good reader requires the integration of many skills, but some children nevertheless learn to read with ease. What does science tell us about how to create strong readers? Caregivers/parents will learn about the reading continuum from birth through elementary school and the critical role of oral language, including specific strategies to structure classrooms and home environments for phonological knowledge, comprehension, vocabulary development, and a passion for reading.

Picking a preschool: What does high-quality early education really look like?

What makes a good early childhood program? Parents worry about program cost, access, and quality, but some of the most common measures of quality don’t tell the whole story. By adopting the perspective of a young child going to preschool or daycare for the first time, parents and caregivers will lea ...

What makes a good early childhood program? Parents worry about program cost, access, and quality, but some of the most common measures of quality don’t tell the whole story. By adopting the perspective of a young child going to preschool or daycare for the first time, parents and caregivers will learn to strengthen their observational and empathic skills in order to make the most of their child’s early learning environment. Special attention to proven research-based strategies, including home-school partnerships that can work in a variety of child-care settings.

Going off script: The case for creativity in early childhood

Young children’s lives are increasingly scripted, with more direct instruction in classrooms and less free playtime at home. How can adults help children reclaim their creative voices and develop the imagination and problem-solving skills linked to many positive outcomes? Caregivers and parents will ...

Young children’s lives are increasingly scripted, with more direct instruction in classrooms and less free playtime at home. How can adults help children reclaim their creative voices and develop the imagination and problem-solving skills linked to many positive outcomes? Caregivers and parents will learn the scientific evidence for creativity, with specific strategies to enhance expressive art, storytelling, and music in the classroom and at home. 

The essential connection: supporting healthy emotions in an iPad world

What is it like to be a young child? Adults often miss children’s emotional cues or have trouble responding to them in part because we don’t remember our own childhoods! Technology and the demands of 21st century life can make it especially hard to see how children really think and feel.  Parents an ...

What is it like to be a young child? Adults often miss children’s emotional cues or have trouble responding to them in part because we don’t remember our own childhoods! Technology and the demands of 21st century life can make it especially hard to see how children really think and feel.  Parents and caregivers will learn how to improve the emotional “cueing system” between adult and child, with special attention to children’s need for autonomy, competence, and connection.  

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<p>Early childhood education expert Erika Christakis touts independence for children in her latest book.</p>

Early childhood education expert Erika Christakis touts independence for children in her latest book.

In her latest book, The Importance of Being Little, ERIKA CHRISTAKIS offers that giving children free time to play with others allows them to learn how to solve problems and deal with conflicts. In a Wall Street Journal interview, early childhood education expert and New York Times bestseller Christakis also points out a recent role reversal for adults and children. She notes that adults are reading children’s books and dressing like college students while children have become overscheduled, hyper-pressured, and are having their childhoods cut short.  Christakis is concerned that “Adults are paying attention to their own self-care with mindfulness and spa care and yoga, yet children are really suffering." 

Read the story in The Wall Street Journal...
<p>The New Preschool is Crushing Kids</p>

The New Preschool is Crushing Kids

Walk into a pre-school classroom in America today and Erika Christakis says it’s likely you’ll see some familiar décor: alphabet charts, bar graphs, calendars, and schedules. It’s all part, says the expert in early child education, of a nationwide drive to make sure kids are ready for school at a younger and younger age. That effort, Christakis argues in her new book The Importance of Being Little, is misguided.

Erika Christakis joins guest host Indira Lakshmanan to discuss what’s wrong in pre-school education today and what we can do to get in on the right track.

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Biography

Erika Christakis is an early childhood educator and New York Times bestselling author of The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need From Grownups. A former faculty member of the Yale Child Study Center, she has written widely about child development from preschool through the college years. Erika is an honors graduate of Harvard College, where she majored in anthropology, and holds master’s degrees in public health, communication, and early childhood education. She is a Massachusetts-certified teacher (pre-k through 2nd grade) as well as a licensed preschool director. For two years, she wrote a TIME.com Ideas column and her work has been featured in a number of other venues, including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, CNN.com, Nightline, Salon, NPR, and the Financial Times. A mother of three grown children, she lives with her husband in New Haven, Connecticut.