Teaching and learning from preschoolers.
. . . it is the job of our schools to get ready for their incoming kindergarteners, not the kids’ job to get ready for kindergarten. This is because kids come in such a wide range of skills and developmental needs.
But even still, we want to help children be prepared to be successful as they move ahead in school. The most important thing that I think Pre-K teachers can do is keep school fun and help their students love to learn. Encourage their curiosity, interest to discover and explore, and creativity. We want them to love learning and have a desire to learn more.
This is so helpful! Thanks for sharing it.
I love this post, Tom (and just shared on Facebook). SO many parents get so caught up in the worry that their 5 year old isn't reading or spelling but they miss looking out for these very simple skills. This is also a great list to have on hand when parents are looking at preschools...does the school emphasize these skills, or are they more concerned about "academics"? Thanks for laying it all out so clearly!- Gina
Thanks for writing from this perspective. It's overwhelming reading other blog lists advising "Kindergarten Readiness" which list 70+ specific things that 4 or 5 year olds should know. I come from the perspective that students have plenty of time to learn these little motor/academic skills (like in kindergarten!) I struggled in school until, basically, I was a teenager then everything seemed to "click". Unfortunately I've seen too many classmates who succeed in the younger grades, lost interest in high school and lost opportunities at the college level. So let's slow down and realize education is a journey, not a race.
Thank you so much, Tom!I really needed the reassurance right now, actually. You see, I'm an aide at a private preschool and at our school's last staff meeting we all shared that we were feeling the pressure from parents to force more "academics" in favor of play based learning, which is the philosophy of the school. I'm a young teacher, and I don't understand why parents would sign up for a play-based school and then ask why their 4 year old can't read yet. and I feel that my school's wonderful child-lead approach is going to be swayed by the wants of these very vocal parents, because as a private school, we depend on their tuition to run fluidly. Any input or resources I should look into? I want to provide the parents with more information, and let them know that it is okay for their child to play! But I just feel so overwhelmed. I don't know where to go for this info.Thank you in advance.
Well said! I agree completely.
I'm sorry E. in SF . . . It can get exhausting to have to constantly "defend" a play-based curriculum, especially when all the research supports this approach. There is no research supporting the academic approach -- none. Learning academic skills early has absolutely no bearing on future success in school or life. Your school has a play-based philosophy. If it were my school I would develop a 1-3 page "defense" of play-based learning, along with links to the research that goes all the way back to the earliest researchers like Piaget. If parents still don't buy it, then you have to be prepared to let them take their business elsewhere. I have told several parents, "I think you'll be happier in a different school." I bite my tongue before adding, "but your child won't."
I love developmental checklists. I once worked at a centre that evaluated the childrens' development based on a check list that had been adopted from "somewhere". It turns out that it was originally developed in the 60's for a very specific study focussed on 5 year olds from low income families, who were latch key children in the Chicago projects. A number of generations of children had been "graded" against it. I've always thought that these developmental and readiness lists rarely touch on the skills and knowledge that make a self confident self accepting child/adult.
Here in Long Beach, as in most places in CA, it is 30 kids with 1 teacher, no assistance. I teach at a public elementary school, but couldn't accept the change in the ratio from the 8:1 at my son's Reggio-based preschool.
i am a K teacher in CA. I agree with all of the skills you listed. If a child comes to my class ready to learn, I can teach them. They will read and write by the time they go to first grade. Please continue to give them lots of time to play and explore. Please continue to help them develop fine motor skills and large motor skills. Sing lots of songs, do lots of finger plays, get messy and have fun! School should be a joy.
Play-based preschool is EXCELLENT preparation for kindergarten! Parents need to have a little more faith in kindergarten teachers. Believe it or not, they actually do know how to teach children how to read and count. It will happen, and it will happen a lot easier if the students come to them with the social skills and executive functioning that play-based learning provides.
Tom,May I share this with my parents? I will happily credit you and provide them with a link to your website.
Of course, Betsy! Thanks for reading!