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.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay
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.

Image Courtesy : Pixabay

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.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay
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.

Image Courtesy : Pixabay
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.