• 3 New Preschool Innovations That Work

    No Two preschools are a 100% alike. Here's a peek at three approaches to preschool education that may well pave the way for every tot's future academic achievement
    by Rowena Beloso .
  • 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.


    What works?

    ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

    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.


    Here are more preschool innovations that work.


    SAVOIR-FAIRE FOR LITTLE TYKES
    Imagine a group of bright-eyed, 4-5 year old boys and girls of diverse cultures and nationalities, huddled together reading aloud from picture books, or learning music, dance and arts in both English and French. This is an everyday scene at the Ecole Française de Manille’s (EFM) Pre-school. The Bilingual French-English Curriculum program, which started in September 2007, aims to develop the students’ ability to express themselves in both languages with much ease, fluency, and facility.

    According to school headmaster, Mireille Vincent, all of the subjects are taught in both languages for an equal number of hours, at alternate schedules. “There are two teachers handling the classes, one for English and one for French. The classes are held in two separate rooms, both of which follow identical lay-out and design like a board for telling the weather, day, and time,” she shares.

    International Curriculum with a local fl avor. The curriculum is defined by the French National Ministry of Education and recognized by our own Philippine Department of Education. “The program not only hones the children’s sensorial and linguistic skills but harnesses their full potentials as well.
    Exposure to a myriad of cultures will not only broaden their horizons at such young age but will also tremendously develop interpersonal skills and ability to adapt to various situations later on as an adult,” reiterates Madame Vincent.


    What works?

    ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

    Though EFM accepts enrollees as young as 2 years old, its bilingual program is only open to 4 years old, since one of the conditions to qualify is that the child be very confident in her own language, whether English or French. To fully integrate with the whole European educational system, other languages such as German, Spanish, and even Mandarin, are taken by students in the higher grades. How’s that for your little citizens of the world?


    Click here to read more about preschool innovations that work.


    Read on about a preschool innovation that works.


    A HAPPY PLACE OF LEARNING 

    It’s like spending school days in Disneyland—only here, it is employed as a teaching method for preschoolers. After teaching at the Disney Children Center, a preschool in Burbank exclusive to kids of Disneyland employees, early childhood educator Ina Tulio returned to the Philippines and espoused the Disney school curriculum at Creative Children Learning Center.
    The goal is simple, she says: “to make young students feel good about themselves no matter what stage of learning they’re in.” Tulio uses specially designed materials to teach concepts and skills.
    “These are not just ordinary materials that you can find in the bookstores and school supplies shop.
    They are the exact custom-made materials used in Burbank,” Tulio reiterates.


    What works?

    “Even our scissors and papers are of different kinds,” Tulio points out. They pay special attention to the proper methodology, resources, and materials that should be used in progressive schools.

    The Disney school in Burbank brought the idea of “progressive” a notch higher by exclusively patenting school materials that correspond to each child’s developmental needs.
    Teachers are expected to come well-prepared for every class, keeping in mind that each activity carefully addresses the individual needs of a child. They stand as guides—not the sole source of information. Quality teaching, she believes, means identifying, explaining, and supporting the major developmental tasks primarily expected of preschool children, including adjusting to school, making friends, problem-solving, and expressing feelings.

    Planning tools and an array of useful teaching strategies come as top priority, meticulously incorporating child development theories and relating said theory to practice. “We use age appropriate materials, equipment, and resources, that help teachers ensure a happy, healthy learning experience for every preschooler,” says Tulio. Even the size of each classroom is carefully planned and adjusted according to the teacher student ratio. It is indeed a happy place for little tots and adults alike. Their approach promotes individuality while enhancing the child’s strengths.


    SOURCES
    ● Rose Guevarra, early childhood educator, preschool director
    ● Sandra Co, vice president, Little Presidents Learning Palace, J.P. Laurel cor. Matienza Sts., San Miguel, Manila, Tel. 735-5757, 735-3535, 733-4494
    ● Mireille Vincent, school headmaster, Ecole Française de Manille’s (EFM) Pre-school, eis-manila.org/EFM
    ● Ina Tulio, owner/directress, Creative Children Learning Center, 32 Riverview Dr., Blue Ridge B, Libis, Q.C., Tel. 681-5475



    ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
View More Stories About
View more articles