Preschool is an early childhood program in which children combine learning with play in a program run by professionally trained adults.
Preschool education is the foundation of the child's education. The skills and knowledge (not to mention aptitude and attitude) that the child develops in the preschool years will have a dramatic impact on the child's success when formal schooling begins as well as life success. Today we expect children to know more by the time they start kindergarten. While previous generations learned basics like color identification and the alphabet in school, today's children are expected to possess these basic skills by the time they start kindergarten.Preschool education help the child gain confidence by making learning fun and easy. It can give the child the edge in a competitive world and education climate. While children who do not receive the fundamentals during their preschool years will be taught the alphabet, counting, shapes and colors when they begin their formal education they will be behind the children who already possess that knowledge and skill set.
Preschool education can boost the child's self esteem, and it can give them the edge they need for lifelong success.
Developmentally appropriate preschools address the needs of the growing child and focus on normal healthy development. Although the pressure to include academics in preschool programs has received much attention in recent years, the idea that early academic training prepares children for academic success in school is faulty. According to Eric Digest, children who attend developmentally appropriate preschool programs, instead of programs emphasizing academic advancement, fair better than their peers in reading and math, exhibit more creative and divergent thinking skills, have better receptive language skills, show less stress and may perform better academically over the course of their educational career.
EnvironmentCreate a safe learning environment that allows children to explore and experiment through play. Self-directed activities like "dress up" and other creative play activities encourage children to explore and to discover new concepts. Encouraging social interaction with peers develops social skills and communication skills in a natural environment.
Language SkillsProvide many opportunities for children to engage in conversation with both peers and adults. Listen carefully and expand on children's ideas to build vocabulary and strengthen receptive and expressive language skills. Children learn language through speech and need practice to develop age-appropriate language skills.
- Teach age-appropriate behaviors such as respecting others, listening, and conflict resolution. Preschool children can follow simple classroom rules to govern their behavior, but rules should not be overly restrictive. Do not expect preschool children to sit and listen for more than a few minutes, as they have no yet developed the skills to do so. Gradually increasing the amount of seat time over the course of the year is appropriate for preschoolers.
Music and MovementInclude music and movement in classroom activities. Nursery rhymes set to music appeal to young children and teach important language skills that are prerequisite to reading and writing. Acting out rhymes provides opportunities for active involvement. Not only do preschoolers enjoy the chance to sing and dance to music, they develop cognitive skills as well.
- Maintain order in the classroom. Preschool children should help in putting away toys, cleaning up their own areas and maintaining order in the classroom. Be ready to intervene to assist in resolving conflict, but avoid solving problems for students. One of the goals of a developmentally appropriate preschool is to teach children problem-solving skills.
- Read to preschool children on a daily basis. This quiet-time activity is often looked forward to by children. Encourage interaction and discussion about the story and its characters. Include some time in the day for children to read books on their own.
Teaching preschool looks simple from the outside. In reality, preschool teachers come into a child's life at a crucial developmental age. What happens in that classroom will build a foundation for the rest of the student's academic career. There are certain key strategies that a dedicated preschool teacher must understand and employ.
- Teaching preschool aged children is largely repetitive. You will need to establish simple learning objectives for the year and repeat them as often as possible. Exercise your patience. The students are unlikely to remember anything the first, second, even fifth time. Be ready to explain the same things over and over. When you are teaching letters, split your class into three centers. Each center should be about the same letter. If you are teaching the letter B, have one center decorating bags, another center blowing bubbles, and the last center coloring a bear. Stress the sound the letter B makes in each center.
Fine Motor SkillsAside from helping your students with letters and numbers, it is a preschool teacher's job to guide the development of fine motor skills. This can be accomplished through any activity that engages the smaller muscles in a child's hands, toes, lips, tongue and eyes. Fine motor skills also promote good balance and coordination. Be sure to provide plenty of art projects and puzzles to work on inside the classroom, but also bring your class outside on a regular basis for some physical activity. Play catch or host a relay race.
- An extremely effective teaching method for younger children is turning their learning material into a song. While they may struggle with learning words by themselves, once you arrange some rhymes, a melody and hand motions, your students won't stop singing about the seven continents or how many pennies are in a dollar. As an added bonus, education songs are a great way to settle down a wiggly class without compromising any learning time.
Outside the Curriculum
- One of the most attractive aspects of preschoolers is their natural enthusiasm and curiosity for life. As you go through the school day, be on a constant look out for learning opportunities. If it's raining while the children arrive for school, take a moment to discuss where rain comes from. Practice recognizing the letter R. Draw a picture of a rainstorm. The more they see you finding their learning material in real life, they more they will begin to see it too.
Preschool Teaching Strategies
|Establish routines and consistency in a preschool classroom.|
Music is an effective way to teach preschoolers basic lessons. Preschool teachers should look for children's songs that are melodically catchy and easy for kids to sing along to. Simple song examples include "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." To help preschoolers define their motor skills, have students clap to the rhythm of the song as it plays. Lead the clapping and try to get students to watch when your hands clap together. This activity develops preschoolers' hand-eye coordination.
- Storytelling is a stimulating way to teach preschoolers about a moral lesson through a fairytale or another type of imaginary story. Preschool students will enjoy seeing the colorful pictures, listening to your funny voices and following along to see how the story ends. You can even make storytelling interactive by stopping at certain parts and asking for the class's help. For instance, in a story about a dog, you can stop and ask the class, "What sound does a dog make?" Student participation is effective for keeping kids focused on the activity.
Consistency and Repetition
- Consistency and repetition are valuable teaching strategies in preschool classrooms because they help preschoolers identify patterns and exercise their memory. Through consistency and repetition, students can develop an understanding of something over time that they may not be able to understand with one try. As a preschool teacher, be prepared to establish a consistent classroom environment by keeping a daily schedule. Have lunch, snack time, nap time, story time and other activities at the same time of the day. To engage repetition, make sure that students can practice tasks or skills repeatedly so that eventually they can remember how to do something without needing to be prompted.
Arts and Crafts
- Arts and crafts is an educational technique that allows children to learn through creativity and self expression. Many preschool teachers incorporate arts and crafts into classroom lessons, as it can be applied to any type of subject, such as learning about safety, animals, holidays or relationships. Preschool classrooms should be full of various arts and crafts supplies to use for different types of activities.
Preschool Teaching Methods
Preschoolers learn best when they are actively involved in learning. Knowledge emerges as a result of the activities they are engaged in as well as the relationships they form early in their lives. Preschool classes are social environments in which children learn about their surroundings and how to play with their peers.
- Creating a literacy-rich classroom environment is essential for building early literacy skills. This includes reading to the preschoolers daily, allowing them time to "pretend" read and having the room clearly labeled. It is useful to designate an area of the classroom specifically for reading. This area should be quiet and have good lighting as well as a variety of reading materials, such as picture books, magazines and other age-appropriate items.
Teachers should instruct students on what a book is and describe its elements. Big books ensure that all students can clearly view the book being read to the group. Rereading favorite books is another tactic that should be used with preschoolers; the repetition builds their confidence and allows them to be a part of the reading activities.
- Free play or student discovery is a teachable time. Children engaged in active play learn about taking turns, respecting one another, practicing social skills and learning other fundamental things without knowing they are doing so. The role of a preschool teacher is to creatively present core fundamentals while engaging children through play.
For example, playing catch can teach hand-eye coordination, or practicing "writing" can develop fine motor skills. It is important that various kinds of toys be available for the children to explore and to help engage them in learning.
- Circle time is a special time for children, because this is where they begin and end their day. Circle time is when children are introduced to the days of the week, ABCs, colors, feelings, story time and song time. It is a time that allows students to feel secure, because it happens at the same times every day and they begin to expect it. Circle time can be a time for puppets, flash cards, videos or any other medium that equally engages and educates the children.
Effective Ways of Teaching Preschoolers
|Preschoolers learn well when hands-on activities are offered.|
Even if you have taught other grade levels before, teaching preschoolers is an altogether different experience. Preschoolers are children who are entering a school environment for the first time. They have ample energy and learn about the world around them by exploring their environment. Keeping preschoolers' special needs and learning habits in mind will enable you to teach them more effectively.
Use Visual Aids
- Students of preschool age learn well when visual aids are presented to them. For example, instead of simply teaching them how to count from 1 to 10 by reading the numbers, use objects, such as pebbles or small candy. Give the child one object and tell him, "This is one." Continue giving him objects and announcing the number so he can see how many that number is. This helps make information seem more concrete and real.
- Preschoolers are young children with plenty of energy, so they enjoy learning and playing at the same time. Instead of just reading a story to your pupils, invite them to act out the events of the story. Encourage children to develop their imagination by asking them to pretend to be anything they can think of, such as an astronaut, a cowboy or an animal. As they play, ask them to talk about what they are doing. This helps pupils develop their language skills.
Create Work and Play Stations
- Preschoolers are learning a lot about unfamiliar topics, so they may become overwhelmed and discouraged. To keep young pupils motivated, ask them questions to get them thinking when they seem to be stumped by a problem. Help them find solutions to problems they don't understand. Give a child a task to complete, such as turning on a light switch. Have the child figure out how she will reach the switch to turn on the light. If she can't figure it out, offer suggestions. Guiding preschoolers to find solutions encourages them and keeps them motivated.