By Lesley Cressman, RECE
Isaac is about 3.5 years old. He has been given the most amazing gift by his parents and his provider (Faery Childcare) to steer his own early writing development . I am a firm believer in following the children's lead, however, I am also a purposeful educator. Which means provocations are set in place to help expand new discovery and growth. Personally, I love letting children and their parents discover the joy of their child's development. I was so please to hear from Isaac's mom that he showed her his newly developing printing skills last night.
Mary, Isaac's mom shared, "I read an article once, I believe it was written by a kindergarten teacher, suggesting that parents focus on teaching their children social skills and manners, rather than pushing them to learn all of the things they are meant to learn in school anyway. This was very eye opening for me, and quite honestly, took a lot of pressure off! We still work on things and are continually taking opportunities for teachable moments, but we don’t stress when we see things like, one of his friends counting to 20 already when he gets stuck at 12, and we don’t sit down and do exercises, because we know that when he’s ready, it will click."
In the document, How Does Learning Happen, "Pedagogical approaches that nurture learning and development in the early years include: establishing positive, responsive adult-child relationships; providing inclusive learning environments and experiences that encourage exploration, play, and inquiry; engaging as co-learners with children, families/caregivers, and others". Being able to share in the delight of his mother last night was incredible gift for me. I am so grateful every day to work with these children each day with their amazing parents.
Titi MacLennan, DECE, Being an Educator in Kindergarten, I am often asked, “How do I prepare my child for school? Do they need to know how to write their name, know the alphabet, or count to a certain number?”
She shared, she always respond with the same answer, "If you want your child to be successful show them they are loved, that they deserve your time, attention and admiration. Above that, provide them with opportunities to be independent so that they can gain the confidence they need to explore new experiences and discover new wonders. Why, you may ask? It’s simple, this allows them to learn that failing is the first step to succeeding and not a reason to quit. If you can gift your child with these opportunities you will be providing your child the strongest foundation to conquer the demands of school. We need to remember that all children will reach expected milestones when they are good and ready to do so and not a moment sooner. By comparing them to their peers we in fact hinder their development. It will shock most parents to know that the new kindergarten curriculum is not focused on reading, writing and arithmetic. In fact language and math are grouped together and only make 1/4 of the program. The other 3/4 revolves heavily on Self-Regulation & Well-Being; Belonging & Contributing; and Problem-Solving & Innovation. Then we must remember that we have two years to help guide your child to reach their full potential in all these domains. So please believe me when we say don't fret about your child's writing and reading skills, instead, let them get ready to dress for outdoor play, open up containers and put on shoes independently and while you're at it give them opportunities to partake in risky play. These experiences will better prepare your child for school by reinforcing their confidence in themselves and building a positive self-image. The brain develops exponentially faster through these experiences rather then forcing them to read or memorizing the alphabet song." Titi MacLennan, DECE
As a purposeful educator, I work very hard at letting the children follow their interests, and letting them process in a healthy and stress free way. I spent a great deal of time researching the implacations of stress within young children and how that stress impacts on their brain development. If you are interested in learning more, I would suggest starting at The Hurried Child, David Elkind.
According to Zero to Three, in the article, Learning to Write and Draw "For very young children, there are four stages of drawing and writing that you may see as your child grows from 15 months to 3 years old. By offering repeated fun experiences with a variety of art and writing materials, you will see forward progress over time."
These beliefs were shared by one of the most forward thinking ECE's I know, Natasha, "When we follow a child's interests and scaffold their learning based on that curiosity they feel heard and valued. Children will always be more engaged when the subject or skill they are learning is one that interests them and because of this they retain more of what they are learning. As an educator taking the time to observe, reflect and know the children's interests demonstrates the care we have for the little ones in our programs. They are each individuals and it is so important for us to meet them where they are and guide them with love and support." Natasha Kocher, RECE
Articles such as, Development of emergent literacy and early reading skills in preschool children: Evidence from a longitudinal study., "Although research has identified oral language, print knowledge, and phonological sensitivity as important emergent literacy skills for the development of reading, few studies have examined the relations between these aspects of emergent literacy or between these skills during preschool and during later reading...Structural equation modeling revealed significant developmental continuity of these skills, particularly for letter knowledge and phonological sensitivity from late preschool to early grade school, both of which were the only unique predictors of decoding." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved) $11.95 for the article, but well worth the money and the read.
Doctor Cathy Barclay (1996) - 7 Stages to a child's development of writing skills, Link
Some downloadable PDF articles or online reading:
Lesley is a graduate of the Early Educator Diploma course, who excelled in her learning at Conestoga College. Additional has taken Social Work and the Law, Group Dynamics, psychology, Sociology and Redefining Early Learning and Care. She has also taking Reaching In Reaching Out, RIRO 1 and 2. Working within Early Learning and Care framework, as well as, the children and families under that umbrella is a passion of Lesley's.