Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Helping a Pre-Schooler Avoid Learned Mistakes

If you are an experienced early childhood education teacher, you must have already discovered that while some learning comes easy and immediately, other kinds of learning are tough and require repetition. A very important thing that you must realize, is that "unlearning" mistakes is difficult and should be avoided.

This does not mean the child should not make any mistakes. The truth is that mistakes are also important, but learned mistakes should be avoided. Mistakes should not be repeated without being corrected. When children are constantly made aware of their mistakes, they tend to learn from them and get better.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

The Technique of Repetition and Its Significance:

According to research, a human brain learns skills related to survival more easily than other kinds of skills like for example the reaction to touching something hot. The primary purpose of the brain is survival, learning non-survival skills is a difficulty for the human brain. The significance of making use of "brain-friendly" methods with the child, is hence important.  One such technique is known as repetition or practice.

Repetition is necessary for several kinds of learning to happen but the amount of repetition may vary. Three decades ago, educators thought a skill could easily be learned by repeating it 4 to 7 times. However, recent research has placed the figure much higher. It is now accepted that repetitions of 20 to 50 times are required to learn anything.

The good news is, preschoolers like redundancy. They have a tendency to listen to the same music, read the same books and play the same sport; every repetition tends to help learn vocabulary, skills, and facts. However, mistakes that are practiced can become learned and may get difficult to unlearn. It may take a teacher more than hundreds of right repetitions for "unlearning" a mistake that has been learned. Basically, it takes time to correct a bad habit.

How can early childhood education teachers help their students?

It means that they should supervise everything their students do and correct the mistakes lovingly when the mistakes do happen. It is not a good idea to criticize the children for the mistakes they make. Directing them gently to discover the right response and then awarding them is an extremely successful technique. This also means you should not let the students work on workbooks, worksheets or computer programs without close supervision. All such tools, when used unsupervised, may cause the child to make mistakes. Preferably, you should never utilize any of these with a preschooler. With just a little effort, you can make sure that the students you are responsible for learn the right things and do not make the same mistakes repeatedly. You are responsible for the learning needs of the children and can easily prevent learned mistakes if you are vigilant.

Early childhood education teachers play a very important role in ensuring their classroom blossoms with new learning. With their expertise and knowledge, they can mold young minds into becoming well-rounded individuals, helping them get better not just in academics but also in every other sphere of life.