Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Should Early Childhood Education be Academic, or Play-based?

Kids perceive through all their senses all that happens around them. Every sensory experience is an instance of some active learning for them. This is how they gain knowledge of the world. Hence, it is important for early childhood education teachers to include play-based educational activities in their curriculums.

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Learning is better through play

Research findings have proved the following:

  1. The preferred method of learning for a young child is through movement.
  2. Play promotes creativity, better problem-solving ability and improved levels of reading, and higher scores in IQ.
  3. Optimal learning takes place with the integration of all body systems.
  4. Lessons experienced physically have an immediate impact, and happen to be longer lasting.
  5. Retention of quality information depends upon the number of senses utilized during the learning process.
There is definitely a very strong connection between performance of physical activity and mental associations.

With all the mounting evidence, it is pretty clear that play-based learning is far more superior in comparison to that through plain academics. Unfortunately, in spite of the findings of such research studies, most educators continue to focus on the need to ‘educate’ the child. Thus, preschoolers fill more sheets and perform more seatwork. These were originally designated for first-graders or kindergartners.

Why learning through seatwork only?

A big part of this tradition comes from the society's belief that brain functions are more important than body functions. Moreover, many of us have lived with the misguided belief that body and mind are two separate entities. Hence, schools continue to train human minds through ears and eyes only.

The need to go back to basics

Early childhood education teachers created in the past programs to meet the developmental requirements of children. They believed that active play promoted active learning; some of the play-based activities included:

  1. Stacking and sorting blocks and other such manipulatives
  2. Dancing and singing, or acting a story out
  3. Exploring outdoor areas, and growing plants
  4. Trying different roles and speaking to one another during social studies classes.
However, many parents and educators are in a hurry to feed children with as much information as they can. This tends to affect the overall experience of children.

The truth is, children from kindergarten to third-grade should be more active in learning because they're still too young to be forced to sit for hours. Conversely, early childhood education happens to be less appropriate to all-round development.

Recent research studies on the brain have confirmed what early childhood education teachers have upheld for long: the body and mind are strongest when integrated rather than separated. Physical activity helps in activating the cells of the brain much more than seatwork.

Sitting can increase fatigue and decrease concentration. Movement helps in feeding oxygen, glucose and water to the brain, enhancing its performance. Moreover, learning through activity creates neural networks within the brain and all through the body, making the whole body an instrument for learning.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Advantages of Using Preschool Worksheets

Most children do not have a chance to reap the benefits of preschool worksheets. However, for generations, educators have been using worksheets for developing lingual, logical, problem-solving and analytical skills.

The fact is kids are quick learners during their formative years. For this reason, educators give importance to training children in the age group of three to seven years, as they can be molded easily to become confident learners.

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Here are some benefits of using worksheets:

1 Make easy foundational concepts

Imaginative worksheets for children, created by professional teachers, can be utilized to make English and Math concepts intriguing and easy, in a fun format.

2 Boost and motivate

Completion of a set of worksheets, rewarded every time by stickers for example, can boost and motivate the interest of the kids.

Help kids express creativity

Coloring worksheets offer the advantage of giving children the opportunity to give expression to their imagination; at the same time, kids enjoy the use of colors as they like.

4 Prove to be effective forms of learning

One worksheet a day helps in keeping away the need for private tuition or extra help. Children have a very little attention span. Every worksheet can be finished within seven to ten minutes, and that leads to effective learning.

5 Improve learning potentials

Educationists prepare worksheets according to the child’s level of understanding. Therefore, they are a great way to enhance a child’s learning potentials. They help children apply the knowledge they gain from their teachers in the classroom.

6 Can be customized

Worksheets for children suit every group, and can be upgraded easily to match varying applications and demands of each child.

7 Usable from a very early age

Worksheets are an important resource for learning fundamental concepts, irrespective of the subject. Therefore, it is a good idea for educators to start early with worksheets and help children build a solid foundation.

8 Simplify the learning process

Educators use extensively worksheets, especially the ones designed for children in preschool, kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Following the right plan and offering rewards at every level of completion help motivate the children finish their tasks, and make the most of the process of learning.

9 Reinforce concepts

Preschool worksheets are one of the best ways for reinforcing learning, which is done for important subjects including, phonics and English, Math, GK, and life skills.

Most children today are addicted to gadgets and digital devices, as the lure of the technology is irresistible. It is important for them to keep away from the digital world, and activate brain-stimulating activities. They need to be occupied in valuable lessons, transforming their experiences of learning into these simple and creative fun sheets.

Worksheets serve enhancing effectively students’ intellect and imagination simultaneously. They help as well in improving the handwriting and finer motor skills of the children. Early childhood education teachers themselves can learn a lot by preparing suitable worksheets from the interactions they have with the kids on a day-to-day basis. Learning is the other side of teaching!

Friday, 22 February 2019

Dealing with Disruptive Behaviors: Reflective Practices

Disruptive behavior in the classroom is one of the primary concerns of teachers around the world. According to statistics, more than forty per cent of childcare professionals quit their jobs in just five years: they find it hard to handle unsettling behaviors in the classroom.

Troublesome behavior is essentially any kind of demeanor that acts as a threat to productive learning situation as well as successful performance of a teacher. This definition is useful in that it helps to make a distinction between the types of behaviors occurring within the classroom. Here are a few ways in which a reflective practitioner can handle such behaviors while teaching.

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Reflect on action before action

Take some time to ponder on all common disruptive classroom behaviors you may have to face: distracting other students during the class, gossiping, not following directions, showing aggression, being rebellious and so on. This is extremely important to staying proactive and planning strategies of management.

Thus, you are better prepared to handle situations as you have reflected on action before action. Think critically about your experience and personal knowledge of strategies utilized for reducing disruptive behavior. You would do well to learn from the strategies employed by senior colleagues in school.

Reflect in action

When a disruptive behavior happens right before your eyes, you need to reflect in action. Plans to handle recurring behaviors like the ones mentioned above will be useful at times; when you 'frame' the 'issue', think critically 'on the spot' about the context (classroom), students, experience and personal knowledge of strategies employed for preventing disruptive behavior.

You should follow the policy of the school on handling disruptive behavior. Moreover, you need to be clear about strategies to manage violent, confrontational or critical behaviors such as using tools in a workshop as weapons of ‘war’, throwing tantrums thereby creating anxiety in other learners, or showing defiantly no inclination to follow rules.

Understand the hidden message of violent communication

Almost all behaviors are a way of communication, particularly disruptive behaviors. However, violent communication of small children may be extremely difficult to understand.  To avoid such behavior, you must try your best to understand the unclear and unknown message of such communication. Patient perseverance is the key here.

Connect with all your students

Try to connect with all the children so that they can build a strong relationship with and trust in natural authority. This is important before you expect them to display their best behavior. You can make a class behave using brute authority, but the costs will be heavy.

That might turn even a quiet child a ‘militant’. A warmer and stronger connect with them will be more productive. The first reaction of the teacher after managing the misbehavior must be to play more with the child, give quality time, and make  her/him feel important, relaxed and at home in the classroom.
Evaluate the reaons

Evaluate the reasons that caused the disruptive behavior. Was the class noisy? Was the group time too long? Was the child hungry? Are there any disturbing issues at home that the child faces? Is the child having a hard time establishing friendships?

A reflective early childhood education practitioner will ensure a good connect with all children, as they know they are being understood properly with immense love and taken care of.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

6 Important Life Skills for Development in Preschoolers

Children keep learning constantly. All new experiences offer opportunities for them to acquire life skills that go a long way in adding value to their lives. The earlier they learn these skills the better for them. Preschool children interact with one another and receive gentle directions from ECE teachers in a nurturing, innocent environment. It would be ideal for them to learn the following six vital life skills.

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1 Taking good decisions

Preschool is a great place for kids to learn different things from different choices they make each day. As they work and play together, they start to decipher the type of behaviors acceptable and the ones that are not.

Preschool helps them understand the many outcomes of their actions. With their regular interactions, they learn to cooperate. All the activities there help children understand how to make the right decisions within a safe setting.

2 Ensuring effective communication

Appropriate play way lessons with dance and songs help preschoolers get exposed to, acquire and develop effective communication skills. Apart from learning basic skills of writing, they practice as well the right way to speak complete sentences. They try to communicate verbally in order to articulate their feelings. They try out a way to express their viewpoint.

Every day at school provides several new opportunities for verbalizing and expressing ideas to patient teachers and peers. Communication may be very basic and shaky in the beginning, but with more and more practice, preschoolers will start to communicate effectively.

3 Making friends

This is a very important life skill, which generally blooms in preschool. Little kids learn the fundamentals that go into building a lasting friendship. They learn how to make good friends and how to be a good friend. They get the chance to understand friendships with classmates of diverse interests, backgrounds and abilities.

4 Assisting others

Little children are naturally inclined towards helping others. Early childhood education teachers are trained in human behavior and classroom dynamics. When they offer guidance, kids learn quickly crucial qualities such as empathy and compassion. Within the class, children are motivated to help one another. When they experience the joy of assisting one another, they acquire the natural desire to help others.

5 Sharing

Sharing is another important skill that needs to be developed in preschool. A group activity such as coloring, for instance, creates a chance to share stationery. Playing with puzzles, toys, and building blocks are also informal lessons that teach the value of sharing, cooperating, patience, teamwork and taking turns.

6 Confidence development

An early classroom setting is one of the best opportunities to try different things and excel at them with time. This whole process of attaining success by trying something repeatedly is one of the best ways of developing confidence.

Participation in show-and-tell activity or becoming a class monitor can enhance and reinforce confidence in every child. When the attitude of ‘can-do’ is developed at an early stage of life, it carries forward and offers the necessary external and internal strength to accept life confidently in every age.

Early Childhood Education Teachers play therefore a significant role in developing these vital traits in preschoolers, so that they get ready to take on the challenges of life head on.

Monday, 24 December 2018

10 Effective DAP Teaching Strategies

Developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) ensure that early childhood education offers opportunities for kids to learn  age - appropriate development skills.After all, it is senseless to expect a four -year old to learn in the same manner as a fourteen-year-old!

A successful teacher knows how to choose a strategy that fits correctly a given child in a given situation. Before setting learning goals, it is extremely important to have a clear idea of what the little ones have already acquired in terms of skills and knowledge. Close observation and flexible practice help teachers determine which approach would be effective for a group of kids.

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Ten successful DAP teaching techniques

1. Acknowledge: Let the little ones know that you observe them with full attention. They will be happy when you sit nearby, notice their actions and make positive comments.

2. Encourage: You should always encourage effort and persistence instead of merely evaluating and praising what the little ones have done.

3.Give constructive feedback: Instead of making general comments, offer activity-specific feedback in a constructive manner. (“The ball did not reach the boundary, James! You could hit it harder.”

4.Be a model: You should be for them a model of positive attitude to emulate. Show them by doing instead of giving instructions after instructions. (“Well, that did not work and I should think about the reason why. Try again.” “I apologize, Ben, I honestly missed what you said. Can you please tell me again?”)

5.Demonstrate the right way of doing: Kids learn fast when you demonstrate the right way of doing things. This normally involves a process of completion of things in steps in a particular way (for example writing the letter M).

6.Create challenges: Challenges ensure that the tasks given go beyond what students can normally accomplish. For instance, lay down on a table a number of sticks and ask the children to count them along with you. Then remove some from the table, and ask a few of them to tell you the number of sticks left. This is a great strategy to help children learn how to count; they will do a simple subtraction as well to give the right answer.

7.Ask questions to provoke thinking: It is necessary that kids develop critical thinking from an early age. Asking provoking questions will be useful in this respect. (For instance, “If you are not allowed to speak with your partners, in what other ways could you communicate with them?”)

8.Offer helpful hints: Drop a hint or two to help the little learners go beyond their current level of competence. (“Is there any word you can think of that can rhyme with your name, Bratt? How about mat? What else do you think can rhyme with Bratt and mat?”)

9.Give facts: Give correct information and facts directly to children, providing verbal labels. For instance, “This thing that appears to be a mouse with a small tail is actually known as a vole.”

10.Give proper directions: It is best to give them proper directions for right behavior or action. (“Touch every block just once while counting them.”)

DAP teachers should know closely their students to identify what strategies would work best for them. However, for a successful implementation of these strategies and best learning outcomes, it is very important to create (i) a caring environment, (ii) a well-planned curriculum and (iii) a strong relationship with the children’s families.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Master's Programs in Early Childhood Education

If you are thinking of advancing your career in early childhood education by doing a Master’s program, the wide range of options available will probably leave you confused. You are possibly speculating about the subjects you should take, the alternatives you should consider, and so on.

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Depending on the kind of program you choose, you may be looking at courses and subjects like influence over children of early childhood learning environment, strategies for bridging learning gaps and evaluation of learning environments that cause problems. Here are the core specialization courses in early childhood education:

The core specialization courses

  1. Classroom management strategies: This course is designed to help students understand and appreciate the advantages of utilizing pre-tested practices and strategies. They can demonstrate their effectiveness relative to the proper management of their instruction classes.
  2. Educational leadership foundation: This course introduces the students to all the significant historical, sociological and philosophical foundations of education. In addition, by the time students complete this course, they are able to identify themselves the problem areas and primary gaps in the schooling system of their country.
  3. Children with special needs: This course highlights all the main aspects of and the significance of reviewing every important detail of work with students with special needs. Areas like legal requirements, accommodations, adaptations, typical development, atypical development, and techniques of inclusion are a few of the main aspects studied.
  4. Instruction, assessment and standards-based curriculum: Such courses deal with an imaginative development of curriculum, instructions and assessment plans based on country standards. Areas like the Comprehensive Assessment Systems (CAS), and the role they play in a teacher’s life are some of the crucial aspects under focus here.
Specialized courses

  1. Learning environment during early childhood: This course examines best practices for development of young children in the age group of three to eight.  Concepts such as materials, space, activities or schedules need to be used and learned through practice.
  2. Instruction in relation to literacy and reading during early childhood: Students pursuing this course will learn the best practical and theoretical aspects of teaching reading and writing. They study word identification, vocabulary, phonics and phonemic skills. They learn how to spot problems in reading or writing accurately and the best ways of coping with these difficulties in young children. They will be able to assess in particular the relation between reading, writing and literacy development.
  3. Early childhood education and practicum: Students will have to put in several hours of practical work in this course under the guidance of an instructor. They learn the best application of all concepts and theories they studied while pursuing their program. This is where they will learn what it means to be a teacher in an actual classroom.
Earning a master’s degree in early childhood education can open up several career opportunities. Furthermore, there is enormous scope for acquiring diverse skill sets and knowledge that can help one become a more rounded teacher.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Towards a Career in Early Childhood Education

The need for childcare educators and professionals is on the increase as ever: hundreds of teachers retire every year, and school enrolments keep rising. There is no denying that a solid foundation during early childhood is directly linked to a child's future and overall growth.

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Importance of aptitude

Before embarking on a career in the field of early childhood education, it is important for you to ask questions about your own aptitude: since you will be shaping the future of scores of kids every year, it is imperative that you take your job seriously. Your everyday routine may include a lot of fun and play, but there is at the same time a sense of responsibility of molding young minds.

In case you are planning to work for a degree in early childhood education, you must have enormous patience to deal with children, and be ready to impart loving care all the time. Apart from this, you have to be creative and imaginative enough with good communication skills for engaging kids.

Age group of kids

Professionals working in the early childhood education sector have to handle children of the age group ‘infancy–8 years’. Your role as an educator will be to enhance their emotional, physical, and intellectual skill sets in different ways.
There has to be creativity in designing hands-on activities including artwork, games, story time, role-play and music. The focus should always be on learning how to learn, making room for imagination of the child.

Contents of education and training

Obtaining a degree in early childhood education can be a wise decision that can in turn lead to a much greater scope in the education field. Usually, an ECE degree program is very extensive in content and structure that prepares you for a wide spectrum of career opportunities and advancement.

You need one to two years to complete the program. The degree offers all the required training you are expected to have to teach young kids of the age group specified. It entails practical knowledge as well as in-depth understanding of early childhood education.
Carefully designed courses of the holistic curriculum cover early childhood development, child centre administration, safety and health, and the like. General knowledge of social science, science, language and crafts is also a part of the curriculum.

After graduation, you can become a pre-school teacher, elementary school teacher, special education teacher of children with special needs and counselor; you can even get a position in the administration like a director or program supervisor. You can become a childcare provider too.

Irrespective of the nature of the career you choose, you will gain rich experience in the implementation of new methods and activities. At one stage, you are likely to feel your job is not simply a job: it is a fulfilling mission!

With a qualification of the right early childhood education degree from a reputed online college, you can invest your time and skills in the shaping of several future generations of the country. You'll find the entire process extremely rewarding!