Now that I am 17 1/2 years into child rearing and into my second year of teaching those cute little chubby fingers in my preschool classes; I have some opinions about early education. Now, granted, this is my opinion so take it for what may but there are probably a few out there who may also agree with me. This opinion probably has changed a bit over the years and really takes watching your first born go from womb to graduation. Watching my children's journey in education has inspired me in my preschool teaching and what these little ones really need to succeed in their primary education.
Everyone will learn their ABC's at a certain time in their life, barring disabilities of course. They will be able to count to 20, recite their colors and label shapes. It will happen if they aren't already there by 3. So many measure their little ones success and intelligence by what they know at 3 and worry way too much if those milestones aren't met. What I have learned is that the pre-school years should be focusing on getting ready to learn. Of course, learning academia at this age is also important but a huge focus should be on learning how to learn.
For instance, if a child lacks obedience for authority, ability to hold still and focus or inspiration to learn, they won't be nearly as teachable. If a child is allowed to run the show and dictate their every wish; that will carry into their education. If they lack manners or social skills, education and friendships will also suffer.
Therefor, these early "pre-school" years should be focused heavily on shaping these little primary students to be. If they come out of it knowing how to read ahead of the game and are the smartest cookie in the class; great! However, the most important thing is that they are ready to learn. They become ready to learn by holding still when it is required, being polite, respecting authority, being attentive, being obedient. When these are mastered, everything else will fall into place. Not everyone is a rocket scientist. We all come with different levels of intelligence but social skills and manners will make up the difference. Guaranteed.
Teaching these skills takes patience and diligence. It means not letting the little ones run the show. It means not giving up when it doesn't go smoothly. This can be done in a sweet but firm manner. I run my preschool like this and somehow, they all love me despite my rules. I expect them to listen, to be polite and to follow the rules of kindness. It is a learning process so it does take repetition. So many times it is easier to let the little ones get what they want so we don't have to endure the fight but this will only carry on to bigger things in life. You need to nip it in the bud early on.
I get to see lots of little personalities. I get warned by moms of their child's precociousness and stubbornness. I sort of like these challenges. It really doesn't take very long to get them in the groove of things. They learn the rules quite well since there really isn't an option for them. It can be done without time outs and belittling.
Every child is different. Some are born with more ants in their pants than the others. Every mom can testify to that. However, I am a firm believer that each and every one of them can learn all the skills they need to be successful in the classroom. That is true for the typical child as well as those with special needs. Just a little more patience is involved. This must start in the home as early as can be. Children really do best with rules.
For me, I feel that if my preschoolers graduate from my class with nothing else than learning to sit still when asked, saying "please" and "thank you" without being prompted, sharing and being kind to each other, respecting my authority and following the rules; my job has been done. Of course, it is great if they can learn the basic preschool academia as well but that is done over and over again the next few years of school.
Just my thoughts but for my children, I think this has worked. Even my little Tater with autism is an extremely obedient little one for his teachers. Not always for mom but he respects his teacher. He follows rules like their wasn't an option. I know by learning this early, this principle has blessed my children's lives. I thank the teachers who have persisted to teach this to my children and have not let them get away with things. I thank the teachers who have made learning fun and creative.
Children need to be inspired and that means they need to be allowed to be creative and hands on. Just one fun thing before I end this sermon ; the picture above is something we do often for snack time. Toothpicks; love them! It makes snack time fun and educational. On this day, I gave them toothpicks, Cheerios and raisins. We were learning patterns so I would tell them how many cheerios and raisins to pattern. They loved it and it was much more entertaining than writing it out on paper. It also teaches them to sit and focus and to develop a better pincher grip. Just a little idea to pass along.
Thanks for listening.
P.S. I have ordered some extra immune boosting supplements and allergy pills for those who missed my order today. First come, first serve.