This month's topic is early childhood education.
It's a Wonder I Can Think at All
Children learn by using their senses. They hear, see, touch, smell and taste things and use the data they gather to make sense of the world.
I had always been offended by Paul Simon's Kodachrome line,
When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school,However, we have become a nation which publicly equates education and testing. Children will learn that "school" is a place for testing and has nothing to do with learning. They'll understand that "thinking" isn't something you do in "school." The definition of "school" will be...or has been...changed forever.
it's a wonder I can think at all.
The Love of Learning
Written language is what makes the human species unique among all the Earth's creatures. Developing a love of reading is one of the primary purposes of education and early learning. That's why I am a big fan of Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook. He rightly points out that a love of reading is something which needs to be taught from the time a child is conceived.
Reading expands our minds both literally and figuratively. Instilling a love of reading in a child is the first and most important task of a parent after basic survival. One of the best ways to foster and grow that love of reading is to read aloud to your children...no matter how old, or young, they are.
Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)
A developmentally appropriate curriculum is essential for all early learning. We should test a child's achievement to see where he/she is, rather than to pass judgment. Tests are simply reflections of a child's developmental process and shouldn't be used to make high stakes decisions about the child...and the younger the child is, the more important this is. The old adage is very true..."You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." We can't make children learn something if they're not ready.
Non-educators who make education policy need to learn this.
No teacher exists who can handle every moment of the teaching experience expertly without error or fault. There is no such thing as someone who can't learn more.
Good teachers must never stop learning. Why?
- A good teacher is better if he/she understands what it's like to be a learner.
- No one knows everything. There are always ways we can grow and improve.
- A good teacher makes sure students know that learning is a positive action....the Master Teacher let's his or her students see them learning.
- To paraphrase John Holt, "Intelligence is knowing what to do when you don't know what to do." Every teaching day/moment is different. How you handle -- and learn from -- unexpected situations is an indication of your strength as a teacher.
Children...indeed, humans of all ages...use play to learn and grow.
The Value of Play...
Play in our species serves many valuable purposes. It is a means by which children develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and moral capacities. It is a means of creating and preserving friendships. It also provides a state of mind that, in adults as well as children, is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving, and all sorts of creative endeavors.
We know that students who attend preschool achieve at higher levels. Ignoring this fact means that we are not looking to the future. The shortsightedness of our policy makers will catch up to us eventually.
Long Division: The Debate Over the Value of Preschool
In June, another study, also published in Science, found that children who participated in a state-funded preschool program in Tulsa, Okla., saw gains of nine months in prereading skills, seven months in prewriting skills and five months in premath skills, relative to their peers. Internationally, the PISA project, or Program for International Student Assessment, overseen by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, has found that high math achievement is associated with attendance at preschools. Gains from preschool attendance have been recorded as far afield as Argentina, Uruguay and Bangladesh. Today, more than 95% of toddlers attend preschool in England, which, along with Scandinavia and France, has a universal preschool system in place.
Stop the Testing Insanity!
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