What preschool teaches tots
Educators deem that preschool provides the best opportunity for rich social interactions, from which children discover a wealth of information about herself and others that she can’t learn by staying home with the nanny. The preschool is a place where children have their fi rst brush with coping in social situations, away from the doting and protective eyes of their parents.
Early childhood education gears up little tykes with good social and behavior-management skills, preparing them for formal schooling. Also, the school should be continuously seeking further study and development of preschool innovations as part of its curriculum.
Saving pen-and-pencil tasks for later
Every preschool today teaches alphabet and numbers—that’s true. The songs, movement and, age-appropriate toys may all be similar, too. What some adults forget to consider is that every child is unique. Each one of us learn things in different ways, which is exactly why early childhood specialists and educators stop at nothing to seek new approaches to help little tykes “learn”—not just what to “teach” them.
“I AM SMART!”
“Three-year-olds simply cannot sit down while teachers ‘teach’ them alphabets and numbers,” says preschool director Rose Guevarra of Little Presidents Learning Palace. “They learn best through ‘doing’ activities that spark their interest—storytelling time, talking to teachers about animals, or playing with blocks.”
When the Multiple Intelligences Theory was introduced in 1983, many preschools didn’t miss a stride and began to incorporate this approach into their curriculum. Some took it a step further and pondered deeply on how to hone it more effectively to further rouse their young students’ minds. Rather than employing a uniform curriculum, schools began to offer “individual-centered education,” with curriculum that responds to the needs of each child, and using all modes of intelligences to learn a concept.
“We think about how our kids can discover their intelligences, NOT [just] measure how intelligent they are,” Guevarra explains. This includes working to help kids develop all intelligences. When kids know they are smart in many ways than one, they are inspired to know more and learn more, she posits.
Intelligent in many ways Language learning and pre-reading skills are strengthened, for instance, by playing rhyming games and letting kids tell stories. “It can be about counting, like the ‘Mother Duck’ song or ‘Ten Little Indians,’” Guevarra illustrates, “which integrates math skills.” Throw in action and movement, and you’ll be rousing body-kinesthetic and music skills. And because the activity is done with kids of the same age group, it actually pins down the people skills of the child. It’s all about planning—what activity to do every day, and which ‘smarts’ it stimulates.
Sandra Co, vice-president of Little Presidents Learning Palace stresses the need to encourage little ones to be imaginative and sociable. “That is what fosters and builds children’s creativity, well-roundedness, and sense of self.” They learn how to compromise, problem-solve, and be respectful of others.
That is why this school-year, they have decided to include swimming as part of their basic preschool curriculum. It’s not just about learning to read by age 4 or how to multiply by age 5, says Co. Teachers should know how to encourage, facilitate, and stimulate children to learn and develop. “We have a swimming pool two flights down our classrooms, so why not use that to further stimulate our students’ development?” she says. When the four walls of the classroom begin to turn off little tots’ focus, they have the pool to pique their interest. After all, kids are ducks in water. They enjoy games that allow them to explore, play with peers, and build confi dence all at the same time.
“They discover that they are capable and can do things for themselves—what seems like mundane tasks like dressing up on their own or packing things away actually set a strong foundation for very young kids,” says Guevarra.
Click here to read more about preschool innovations that work.