We have all heard the old saying that “you have to crawl before you can walk”, but many have forgotten the wisdom in that old adage. Studies show that crawling before walking is important for the proper development of the brain, and future learning. Neurophysiology Carla Hannaford, in her book, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head explains how it develops not only the muscles we see (legs, arms, ext), but also the muscle we do not see (the brain). Likewise in educating our children, each step prepares our children for the next one. Learning is influenced by the natural development of the body and brain. According to brain research for example, there
can be a five-year difference in maturation between any two “average” children. Gauging achievement on the basis of chronological age is therefore inappropriate
So what does this all have to do with the prekindergarten student?
We use to have the best education in the world. People came from all over the world to be educated in the U.S.. But that is no longer the case. According to studies and tests conducted by PISA — which measures math, reading, and science competency levels from 60 nations — America ranks 25th, 14th and 17th, respectively. Our children are graduating from high school unable to do basic math or read at grade level. What happened? We have been misled into believing that education is now a race. As a result, we often lose site of the uniqueness of each child. The one size fits all approach is failing our kids. Children are often pushed into the next level before mastering the steps necessary for them to succeed in the higher levels. “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”
Even what they are ready to learn is unique. In her book, Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success, Madeline Levine, PhD, explains that by pushing and forcing our children to fit unnatural molds, our education is actually causing ADHD and other learning disabilities. Note: no one is suggesting that this is the only cause of learning disabilities, but it is one well worth paying attention to.
The NT (Rational) personalities often take no interest in independent reading until around eight years old. Einstein was such a child. A Cambridge University led study says we are pushing our children too fast too soon, and that formal education should not take place before age six. But that does not mean they are not learning, and it does not mean we are not teaching.
How And What To Teach The Pre-K child
Use children’s natural tendencies to teach them. What do children naturally do if not watching TV? Yes, they play. Studies show that children (especially young children) learn best while at play, and real life experiences because it engages the body and mind. Following are examples:
- Coloring helps them to develop hand and finger coordination, and prepares them for future writing. Note: boys normally develop writing skills later than girls because of hand dexterity.
- To help them learn the ABC’s, sing the old ABC Song as you go for walks. Why does the Department Of Education want to reinvent things that worked so well? Most of them never taught even one child.
- Once they know their ABC’s, you can teach them letter recognition by drawing the letters in the sand, and walking the line as you say the letter. Use mud, or play doe to form the letters as you say them.
- While coloring, they can learn the colors. While shopping, talk about the different colors of the fruit, and the color of their shirt.
- Never use baby talk, and speak as if talking to an adult. That does wonders in preparing them for reading and communication skills. As I did my daily chores, I talked to my infants as if they were adults.
- Teach vocabulary with play. For example: as you jump over a stick, say “lets jump over this stick”. ..”lets go under the table”…”Can you walk around the chair like I am doing?”.
- Teach them about body parts…elbow, wrist, ext.
- Count fingers with them, and have them tell you how old they are by holding up the correct amount of fingers. While shopping, count the fruit with your child as you put the fruit into the bag together.
- Some young children are capable of learning sequencing. Important: the child’s interest level will give you clues as to what they are ready to learn.
- Read to them daily…even if they want to hear the same story over and over. That drove me nuts, but they love it.
- For More ideas see: Grade Level Requirements for the PreK child (to be taken with a grain of salt)
- How To Home School is another very helpful article.