Throughout history there seems to be a trend that early childhood education was supplementary. Even today we still experience these similar issues. However there are a lot of other issues that come into play in early childhood education. Some issues that prevent children from learning are the child’s culture, learning disabilities, temperament, behavioral problems, and achievement gaps. We cannot control these issues from happening but we can adapt and cater to each child for some of these issues especially observing a child’s temperament.
There are nine temperament traits that we should look for according to article 17 of the Annual Editions textbook. This is beneficial so that we can, “tailor our approach to each child’s cluster of temperament traits. As you tune into temperament, you are likely to become more successful in helping all children adjust to situations and persons in was that promote their social ease and competence. ” (Annual Editions #17) Besides observing temperament, achievement gaps can come into play. “The achievement gap between poor and middle-class black and white children is widely recognized as our most important educational challenge. (Achievement Gap handout)
There are different types of gaps such as the reading gap, the conversation gap, the role model gap, and the health and housing gaps. “Young children of educated parents are read to more consistently and are encouraged to read more to themselves when they are older. ” (Achievement Gap handout) When a child enters preschool or kindergarten, there is an achievement gap already with the reading level of middle and lower class children. This issue unfortunately affects the lower class children dramatically and this is only one of the different issues on the topic of achievement gaps.
There are a few individuals that impacted early childhood education significantly and two of them are Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget. Maria Montessori still impacts early childhood education today and there are still Montessori schools all over the world. Montessori was the first woman in Italy to earn a degree in medicine. Her first intention was the study diseases in children but later on became a strong influence in early childhood education. She became so popular at one point she was opening up Montessori schools all over the world and touring as well.
Montessori has five principles to her theory. The 1st principle in her theory is having respect for the child. According to the handout on Montessori, “children are unique individuals” where teachers must respect each child for their differences. The 2nd principle is known as the absorbent mind, the belief that a teacher should not teach them because children can learn on their own instead. This principle is categorized into three stages ranging in ages. From birth to three year old, the child develops their senses from the environment around them.
By age three to six years old, the child’s senses are sharpen as they learn more about the world around them. The 3rd principle is known as sensitive periods, when the teacher must step back and be observant of each child in the classroom. When a teacher feels that a student is sensitive to a certain skill then they can learn it. It is time for the teacher to introduce this task. There would be many opportunities afterwards where the child can practice this new task till it is perfected. Finally, the 4th principle is the prepared environment where children can be comfortable and learn best in.
The teacher must customize the classroom for children. It is fit to be more convenient for the child to do things for themselves. The goal is to get the child must be independent and to take advantage of the freedom around them. The child will learn to rely less on their teacher but more on themselves. This idea is strongly emphasized in the classroom because Montessori believed that the education should be child centered rather than teacher centered. Even though a school may not be officially be a Montessori school you can find a few ideas that were influenced by her.
The prepared environment and respect for the children are definitely things you see at any good school or program. Moving onto the second individual, Jean Piaget was a Swiss philosopher and natural scientist that is famous for his theory of human intellectual development. His theory has four stages of development. The first stage is the Sensori-Motor Stage, which occurs mostly around the age 0 to 2 years old. This stage, “child relies on touching, feeling, and using his senses to find out about the world. (Handout on Piaget)
The second stage is the Preoperational Stage, which occurs mostly from 2 to 7 years old. During this stage, “the child still relies on using the senses, but is increasingly able to use language and words to represent things not visible. ”(Handout on Piaget) The third stage is the Concrete Operations Stage, which occurs usually around 7 to 11 years old. At this point “the child is developing the concepts of number, relationships, processes, and more. He is becoming able to think problems through mentally, though still in terms of concrete or real objects rather than in abstractions. (Handout on Piaget)
The fourth stage is the Formal Operations Stage, which happens when the child is 11 years old and older. “The child is able to proceed a step further; he can now mentally think in terms of concepts and abstractions, rather relying on concrete or real objects. ”(Handout on Piaget) There are other good ideas used in classrooms today. These ideas are taken from Piaget’s theories on how children and grow and learn. According to this extraordinary scholar, all children have the curiosity to learn about themselves and the world. If children are stimulated and found the skill interesting then they will learn.
Piaget also strongly believed that when teachers provide the material then children are eager to learn. Even today these theories offer guidance for teachers to find different methods to inspire children to learn especially at a young age. Developmentally Appropriate Practice, also known as DAP, is a widely used practice for teachers working with children. In 1987, “the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) published a widely used position statement about developmentally appropriate practices for serving young children from birth to age 8 in early childhood programs. (Handout of Early Childhood Programs)
However in “1997 the NAEYC revised the Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs, clarifying the misunderstandings and misinterpretations that arose from a decade of extensive dissemination of the original position statement. There are three dimensions in Developmentally Appropriate Practices and they are age appropriateness, individual appropriateness, and cultural appropriateness. There are numerous ways that they are demonstrated in a pre-K program.
Age appropriateness is a common characteristic that is seen in most pre-K programs. Developmentally appropriate practice suggests that teachers should not attempt to direct or tightly structure learning experiences and that formal academic instruction at the preschool level should not occur. ” (Handout on Early Childhood Programs) Another example is with cultural appropriateness, especially when it has to deal with holidays. Most pre-K programs, unless it’s a non-secular school, go over different holidays and mention which cultures celebrate which particular holiday such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza.
As young children learn about themselves and the world in school, literacy is constantly being exposed and is developing in their minds. It is important that their literacy is developing in their young lives because this also increases their vocabulary and grammar skills. As teachers read aloud to them and provide activities for children, early literacy is expanding their knowledge. Once this is evident, teachers can be on the look out for certain behaviors in children. This allows them to know that children are ready to learn how to read.
There are four behaviors to identify and they are handling books, looking and recognizing, comprehending pictures and stories, and reading stories. Other characteristics that occur in children are their loose teeth are falling out as well as putting their arm over the head and being able to touch the ear. (class lecture) Today there are programs that are supporting early literacy for young children. In the film Foundations of Reading and Writing, it stressed how reading should not be taught too early.
Alternatively, literacy can be taught in creative ways. In the film, several teachers believed that activities is beneficial for children and will promote early literacy. Block playing and painting are a few examples of activities that help children recognize shapes and colors. This simple activity can assist children to start recognizing letters and putting it in a certain order to create words, such as their name. It is up to us as teachers to promote early literacy and to enhance this development.