Over the next few days I will be sending out pieces from our new page on the preschool site called “Teaching Philosophies”. Many of you have already been at our preschool for many years and have a pretty good idea about why we do what we do. Even so, I thought summer would be a great time for a refresher. 🙂
Over the years, I have studied various teaching approaches: Traditional, Reggio Emilia, and Maria Montessori, to name a few. While teaching children for the past fifteen years, I have found that most children respond best to a traditional teaching approach. Since our children’s brains are not developed yet, they are looking for teachers and parents to guide them in wisdom and to help them make sound decisions. They need to be taught to listen, have respect, share, and work cooperatively. We feel it is our job as preschool educators to guide them in the direction that will enable them to be able to learn at their highest capacity. This involves laying the foundation for the learning that will take place for the rest of their lives. This also involves teaching them the social skills they will need in order to learn and to function in relationships, schools, friendships, and any other social situations they may come in contact with.
During recent years, I have seen a real decline in the emphasis of the importance of traditional learning, and have also heard feedback from local school teachers that children are coming to school not socially prepared to learn. It seems like our society has been buying into educational ideas that may “sound good”, but lack the foundation, depth, or age-apppropriateness for the learning that children really need. Do children really need to learn yoga at the age of 3? Should children be the ones to decide what they want to learn? Should the focus of preschool education be to teach children to write a thank you letter? Children need to be taught how to learn. They need to be directed in focussed age appropriate curriculum and interactions designed for their age that will prepare them for the school years to come.
Throughout my teaching experience, I have had a few students transfer from other preschools where they were not instructed in the traditional teaching ways. I remember one of the children asking if was “okay” for her to play with the other children. I was shocked. “Of course, I want you to interact with the other children. That is what preschool is about. We learn how work cooperatively with our friends.” I also had another transfer student who just wanted to whatever he wanted to do whenever he wanted to do it. He had no idea how to follow a school routine, how to learn in a group setting, or take instruction from a teacher. From these experiences, it seems to me that if a child will be going into a traditional teaching school, which most of our local schools are, shouldn’t they be in a preschool that teaches in the same way?