Great Teaching in Preschool

If you want to see how teaching should be done, I would encourage you to step into your local preschool or early childhood center. I have been fortunate to spend a fair amount of time in my local early childhood center because both of my sons have attended and one is still there. It appears to me that all a teacher really needs to know about how to teach they could learn in a preschool classroom. For example…

·         Play is learning – Kids interact with their environment and learning space as if they were playing. Learning through play is par for the course and kids actually enjoy doing it. At what point does play work its way out of our classrooms?
·         Relationships trump everything else – Just watch the way a preschool teacher helps kids and you know that relationships are key. Both of my sons absolutely adored their preschool teachers. They couldn’t wait to talk to them and share every single aspect of their personal lives and some of their parents as well. J The reason for this is kids know when you care for and about them.
·         Parents are part of the process – There is no other setting where you see more parental involvement than the preschool classroom. My son’s school has monthly parents in the classroom where my wife or I can go and “play” with your son. In addition, there are community nights, open houses, and numerous other activities for parents to be a part of the school community. This sends a strong message that parents are a part of the learning process and are a valued member of the school.
·         Small class sizes – Anyone that has actually spent time in a school as an educator knows that the smaller the class size the better learning potential there will be. When you have a class of 12-15 kids, you can provide the individualized attention we know to be best for kids.
·         Cooperation is taught and celebrated – Kids in a preschool classroom are taught how to work together to solve problems and cooperate. Competition is not a tool they use but rather they focus on working in a collaborative manner to learn and play together.
·         Failure is used as a learning tool – Kids at this age fail on a regular basis and that is to be expected. These failures though are learning opportunities and kids are challenged and supported to keep trying and figure things out.

I know there is nothing profound in this post but it just strikes me how we think some of these skills or ideas go away when kids get older. There is nothing in this list that could or should not be a part of any classroom at any grade level. For some reason we think that the fundamental ideas we utilize in early childhood somehow become less important as they get older. 


Tony Baldasaro said...

I remember thinking I was a pretty good teacher until I walked into my son's Kindergarten class and realized I couldn't hold a candle to the work that Mrs. Sullivan was doing with her kids.

Great post.

dmfouts said...

Absoutely true in every way. Beyond a few more years of living experience and an indcreased, yet fleeting sense of maturity, there are really few differences between really young kids and middle schoolers/high schoolers (adults for that matter). You can make a pretty good argument that the most creative, responsive teaching is done at the lower levels. Great post

dmfouts said...

Totally agree.. Great points. The older we get, the more we lose perspective on all of these issues. Thanks for the post. Dan

Sarah at Easyread said...

Great post - I especially like that you listed the play-based environment first! Studies have shown that most brains learn better in a play-based environment (and not just preschooler brains :). If only this continued on into secondary school education... - Sarah at Easyread

Katy Smith said...

Preschool is a wonderful place to build the village around your kid as well. Since preschoolers depend on their parents to get them there and bring them home in most cases, parents have time to connect with one another. It starts with the little things.."your son looks cute today"..."Oh, is she still having a tough time separating?" and often times leads to lasting relationships. The powerful message to kids is in the pick up and delivery as they see lots of adults connecting at school. Wouldn't it be great to offer parent education in every preschool setting?

Unknown said...

thank you for the post!
reminds me one of my favourite books/posters: Everything I need to learn I learned in Kindergarten.
'Class size', however, is sadly something out of the control of most teachers in public education. While we can still differentiate and promote small group learning, managing a large group of teenagers has its challenges~ something for the policy maker to think about for sure~

as an intermediate teacher, I find that we do spend a lot of time trying to 'recondition' our kids to accept failure as part of the learning. While some of these kids' resistance to failure is due to their age (they don't wanna look bad in front of peers); we can't stop trying to help them understand that it's more foolish to pretend you are perfect.

again, thanks for reminding us how we teachers should go back to the basics once in a while~


Unknown said...

Hey Josh,
Profound or not, your words are so true. Often times we consider play and learning to be seperate. Truly, there is nothing more effective than when you can get a kid to participate in learning enthusiastically with play. You sound like the kind of teacher that truly impacts their students. Keep up the great work!

Jackie Crawford said...

So true and I couldn't agree more! I am a 2nd grade teacher sometimes find myself racking my brain trying to think of ways to engage my students in ways that I haven't before, all the while making what we're learning fun. I love taking my kids to hands on museums that is all about learning, but they think they're playing all day. It's amazing what they can absorb from experience like that. I just read a great book you might like, it's called "Teach Like A PIRATE" by Dave Burgess. You can check him out and get the book right from the website Thanks for the post!

preschool childcare in Yorba Linda said...

Preschool child careis not only important for a child but a parent as well. The involvement of a parent with the young one's teachers is the key to shaping the child's future. If a child knows that his parents are very much concerned about him, he feels secure.

Unknown said...

Hi Josh,
I am currently studying to become an educator, and I can’t agree with you more. No, I don’t have a firsthand teaching experience with this, but I do remember my experiences as a student. What you have shared here makes me want to strive to accomplish and keep all that is lost with age in the teaching and learning processes. Thanks for the great post! Every part was dead on.