Preschool---It's A Whole Different Animal

I admit I don't have documented proof, (I just strongly feel) that more often than not,  preschool classrooms and teachers are not "valued" for the extremely significant part they play in children's growth and development, as well as the success of those same children later in both school and life.

If you work with young children, you know what I mean. How often does someone ask you, "are you going to get a real teaching job?" or "oh, you're so lucky, you don't have to do anything but play with your kids."

Just to be fair to those who don't seem to value pre-k classrooms and teachers, I'm going to assume that their attitude is due to the fact that they do not know the purpose of preschool education for three and four year old children. Some even say, "they just play all day, how can they learn?"

First, children in preschool classrooms and their teachers do not just play all day. To the untrained or uninformed person walking into a classroom where children are at the easel covering their entire paper in blue or dressed like a firefighter while pushing a baby buggy, or building a tower with empty coffee cans, or looking out the window at birds at the feeder may think that "just play" is happening. But in reality actual learning is taking place.  Children are learning about cause and effect, thinking creatively, role playing, learning math skills by counting birds, and even learning about the force of gravity when the tower tumbles down.

Next,  let me say that preschool or pre-k is not a "boot camp" for kindergarten. The ability for children to learn to read and write, to control their impulses, and to learn how to cooperate with others takes time and guidance.  Some things are based on nature and others nurture, if you will. The body develops from the trunk outward and from the top to the bottom. In other words, large muscles and motor skills develop before muscles used for fine motor activities.  A child must be allowed to use a large paint brush and large paper to develop their arms and hands.  Later, as a child matures and works with smaller paint tools, crayons, markers, and play dough the smaller muscles develop and the child is able to hold a pencil and have some control over where the marks end up on the page.

So, the point being,  you can push and push a child in preschool to "write" their name between the lines, however, you can not speed up the process of development for that child.  If a child is not developmentally ready for a skill or task,  they are not ready!  The same can be said for using flashcards depicting numerals,colors, shapes, or letters. You can  flip those cards until you drop, however, if children are unable to sit up and attend or if they have never experienced holding square or round objects or picked out a specific color of paint to use, or used rocks or sticks to count with, or the letter you're showing isn't "their name" there is really and truly not much point to "drill time."

That's what I mean when I say pre-k is a whole different animal. It's not the same as kindergarten or any other grade. Nor should it be!  Preschool is a unique place for young children and the adults who work with them. Preschool should be a place dedicated to allowing children to explore, think creatively, develop large and small muscles, to understand the feelings of others, to have conversations and learn to express themselves,to become excited about learning and to develop a life long love of learning.

That's it for now.
Check back later!


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