Friday, 27 June 2014

Five Toddler Teaching Tips

The speed at which toddlers learn can be amazing.  Speech, language and cognition are all increasing, almost overnight. The baby babble of last week could be real words today. The problem with the rapid pace of toddler development is that adults often tend to think it is a continuous linear process. It is not. The pace at which understanding and internalization occurs, varies from day-to- day and from subject to subject. Adults do not consciously put pressure on the toddler to learn quickly. But young kids are very sensitive and often they instinctively know when adults are disappointed in them. A toddler’s emotional development may be at a nascent stage, but he or she can sense when an adult is disappointed. This can have a negative impact on the developmental process.

Here are five things that parents and teachers can do to support a toddler’s development.
  1. Slow down. An adult’s need to achieve targets, adhere to schedules and meet deadlines is beyond a toddler’s understanding. When talking to toddlers, the pace at which communication is done is as important as the words that are used. A toddler will appreciate the meaning of the words, but not their import. And this can lead to confusion in the developing mind. When talking to children, either individually or in a group, ensure that you are communicating not at the speed you want, but at the pace that they are happy with.
  2. Do not talk down. This does not mean do not be rude to a toddler. Talking down is used here in a literal sense. For a toddler, an adult is a huge person with immense power to do what they want, even if what is being done is not understood. This is why adult movement and actions are often blindly imitated.  This is natural and harmless. But interaction with a toddler is not something that the child should think of as another unfathomable adult activity. Do not talk at a child. Talk to him or her. This includes literally going down to their level. It is not possible for an adult to communicate with a child only when kneeling down or lying on the floor. But going down to the child’s level as much as possible means something like making eye contact; it is easier and increases the focus on the message that is conveyed.
  3. We live in a world of instant responses. Whether online, at work or with friends we demand immediate answers. This does not work with toddlers who have their own pace. When asking a question or telling the child to do something, be patient. Give enough time for the child to understand what is being asked; and to demand clarification by asking things like ‘Why’, ‘When’, ‘How’ etc. This is how obedience becomes understanding.
  4. Do not evaluate a child’s development based on the number of new words learned. Children learn new things at their own pace and no two toddlers are the same. What is more important is to appreciate how well they can use the words they do know and how coordinated they are in the movements they can do. Do not push a toddler to do or learn more than he or she is comfortable with. Often a slow learning speed turns into a strong foundation for rapid learning later on.
  5. Upgrade toys regularly. Infants love brightly colored plastic toys that light up and make sounds. But these toys do everything on their own instead of requiring inputs from the child. This is fine for an infant but a toddler needs to have toys that stimulate the mind and require some kind of inputs from the child. The change should be gradual but in time the toys that require inputs will become the favorites as the challenge of playing with them increases the enjoyment.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Must Have Qualities of a Good Preschool Teacher

While no two teachers are the same, two qualities they all need to have in common are love for children and passion for teaching. But these in themselves are not enough to make a person a good teacher. If you are planning for a career in early childhood education, here are a few of the qualities you will need to be successful in your future profession.
  • Patience is not a virtue, it is a necessity. You will be asked the same questions over and over again; and you might face the same problems time after time. There is a great deal of repetition in caring for young children and without the patience to cope up with it, you and your students will have a hard time.
  • A preschool teacher has to cover a range of subjects. You should have a solid understanding of the subjects you will be dealing with. Remember that young children can often ask the most difficult and awkward questions and you need to have answers for them.
  • Teaching is a rapidly changing profession in terms of both teaching methods and course materials. You will need to have the commitment to staying abreast with all the latest developments in your field to have a successful career.
  • You must have the kind of personality that enables you to relate to the children you are teaching. You must be able to communicate and talk to them, not at them. Every aspect of teaching is based on the ability to communicate in a variety of mediums.
  • No amount of training will prepare you for all the problems you will face on the job. You will need the ability to think on your feet and stay cool in a crisis in order to reassure the children that you are in control.
  • Young children have short attention spans and get bored easily. You will need to be innovative in the way you communicate and teach to retain their attention.
  • As you progress in your career you will have a large number of students to deal with, many subjects to cover and a wide array of administrative work to handle. This means that you will need to be organized and methodical in the way you approach your work, failing which things may descend into chaos.
  • Try to approach your work and problems as matured as you can. It is this that will earn you the respect of your students and coworkers as well.
  • You must be a good listener. One of the best ways to develop rapport with children is to let them know that you are a person who is ready to listen to what they have to say.
  • You need to be a leader. Without this quality you cannot expect your students to follow you and obey your instructions. Being a teacher gives you authority. But only being a leader earns you the respect that makes for a really good teacher.
Very few people are born with all the qualities needed to be a good teacher. Most of them either had a mentor who guided their development or learned on the job by trial and error. Experience is the best teacher, but knowing the qualities you need to succeed will enable you to learn the most from the experiences you will have as you begin your career.