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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in early learning
Posted by on in Early Childhood

b2ap3_thumbnail_curious-child.jpg

I was once asked during a presentation for a parent’s group what it is that preschoolers need most to prepare them academically.

I’m sure some would have loved tips on building early readers or how to get a jump start on math skills (both important, to be sure), but what I really believe young children need goes beyond even those basic skills.


“Honestly,” I said, “if I had to pick one thing, it would be for them to simply keep their curiosity.  Everything else will follow.”

Passionately Curious

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

kindergarten classroom

Recent news continues to highlight the increasing demands on teachers, students and families during the first year of school. Kindergarten is the "New First Grade" has been said many times during the past few years, however increased academic expectations can be met with developmentally appropriate instructional strategies…play included.  The benefits of play in the new first grade are seen throughout a child’s day in multiple domains.

1. Development of the whole child.  Play-based activities reach a wide scope and sequence of skills.  From critical thinking to problem solving skills-students have a very concrete and motivating way to learn the foundation skills that will support their learning K-12 and beyond.

2. Reaches the diverse learning styles of our students.  Play is a universal language.  I have observed students of all native languages interact together at a sensory table with water and sink/float activities.  We don’t always need our words to learn-but for our students who thrive in modes of learning that incorporate kinesthetic and visual activities- play can be the spark that supports more meaningful understanding of concepts.

3. Opportunities for development of oral language skills.  So much research has come out in regards to the importance of meaningful talk time for our early learners.  Playful learning offers intentional opportunities for students to enhance their vocabulary skills, while having student models and teacher facilitation of conversations.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Tonight I am writing about Hope. Every Child a Star! Leo The Early Bloomer.

One of my favorite children's books, Leo the Late Bloomer, resonates for us all. Regardless of who we are teaching, there are lessons galore in this special book written by Kraus, illustrated by Aruego in 1971.

Maybe even more relevant today, as we push children to exceed, meet sometimes unreasonable standards and expectations, at least as measured by standardized testing. My opinion, as a believer in DAP, developmentally appropriate instruction. 

Poor Leo. He couldn't do anything right, couldn't read, write, draw, was a sloppy eater and never said a word. His father, in particular watched him for signs of blooming but pretty much gave up. In our class, many of the children have no daddies, only tired working mothers who trust our teachers to provide a seamless sense of family from home to school. Parents are our partners. 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

When I was little, I was afraid of thunder and lightning, and you can be sure there was plenty of that in Northern Ohio, where I grew up. Lake effect storms were common, coming down as rain or snow. As I cowered from a storm, my father bid me come to the screen door to watch. He explained how the lightning always preceded the thunder, and that it demonstrated that the speed of light was so much faster than the speed of sound. Because I felt safe with him holding my hand, I gave in to my curiosity, which was, after all, behind my fear. I absorbed the sense of wonder in his voice. I fell in love with thunderstorms.

I’m not going to say I ended up as a meteorologist, as he’d wished he’d been (the Navy made him an engineer). But I still feel that grown-ups who model their love and wonder of natural phenomena must always be part of the young child’s learning. If a child becomes enamored of worms, find your inner worm-lover and join in!

On our playground during the spring, a few younger children found two enormous worms. Because I was near, they pulled me into the excitement. “They are so big!” “Giant worms!” “Ugh, I am not touching them!”  I picked one up. Without thinking about how I should approach this learning opportunity, I said, “Looks like night crawlers”. I could have said something more adroit, questioning them about their interest, but I guess I was channeling my Dad. They asked, "What's a night crawler?" so I looked them up on my phone. I showed them the pictures, which got them even more excited because the worms looked exactly like what we were seeing (and some were holding)! Jumping up, one girl went to get her teacher. “We found a night crawler!”, and showed her teacher the worm. “It’s another worm”, the teacher said, as if that was all that mattered. It was kind of deflating (in fairness, we were seeing every worm every child had found during a forty-five minute time period outside).

These children were seeking a meaningful connection with teachers, something crucial to real learning. Young children learn more, absorb more, if teachers fully connect with them in their interests. If teachers join in the excitement, giving opportunities to expand on the learning, they will provide the necessary container for the children’s exploration. Teachers' willingness to put aside their own agendas will be rewarded by their students' increased interest in learning.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

preschool classroom kids

 

If we want children to be ready for kindergarten, we must be certain that the environments and systems we create are responsive to the unique developmental needs of not only preschoolers but infants, toddlers and their families.   Dr. Terri Rose - Emotional Readiness:  How Early Experiences and Mental Health Predict School Success

Moving into the K-12 system is a big milestone for students and their families.  It starts their journey of lifelong learning and building relationships around multiple stakeholders in the educational system.  Kindergarten registration is a key point to connect with families and supporting their first few moments in the K-12 world are safe, positive, and meaningful.  

At Woodson last year we revamped our registration based upon personal experiences and feedback from families.  No longer was it a 60-minute 'talk at' but 15 minutes of 'big picture' and then hands-on activities that families could work on throughout the summer.

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