Why Being Able to Reading Isn't the Biggest priority in Preschool
I always get the question. Are you going to teach them to read? What will they know by kindergarten? Does your preschool work on letters or just play?
I had a conversation with my early childhood education mentor... and it really helped me to be able to put the answer to words. Let me tell you about my philosophy.
Phonemic awareness and decoding is a basic level of understanding for children. There are tons of programs for it and it is close-ended memorization. It's important for children to read. Anyone who spends time pointing out letters, talking about sounds and reading stories will be able to help children read. They will learn in Kindergarten, they can learn from an iPad app or just from parents pointing out letters.
In my preschool program, I want to to take it beyond memorization and parroting. Talking about the letter Z for fifteen minutes at group time, is boring... it creates problem behavior (because of boredom) and it is unnecessary at this point to be redundant. When letters and numbers and phonemic awareness are integrated into intricate lesson plans and real-life experiences, it is much more meaningful at this point in development. They may all be able to write their name by the time they're done (or maybe they will need some work), but I want them to get so much more from early-education. This time is so valuable to help mold their minds and develop.
From second grade on, children already know how to read, and now they are "reading to learn." The background knowledge they have at this point will take them far. Children are failing science in eighth grade because they aren't able to make inferences and use their critical thinking.
At a young age, in the most sensitive learning period, Little Blossoms will be helping children develop at their highest potential. We will be reaching children of many different abilities. Through the lesson plans that are prepared and left open-ended, they will dive into higher level thinking. As a teacher, I will support the children by asking the "what if" questions and scaffolding to build upon what they already know at an individual level.
The fifteen minutes I spend during group will go in depth. How do craters impact the moon and the earth? How an airplane land during a snow storm? Why are there different time zones? In ancient Egypt, how did they build pyramids without power tools? The children will be able to think deep, and learn about the world around them. This will help them with being able to make inferences, use critical thinking and develop reading comprehension. Some will even have an open-mind to cultures and their world, before they have even stepped foot out of Utah.
With daily dialogic reading the children will have an opportunity to connect with stories, dig deeper into them, ask questions, recall information and reflect on the similarities in their own lives and lives of others. Children who have critical thinking skills and can generalize what they are learning to other situations, are at a higher level of problem solving.
Problem solving and the ability to think through situations themselves is the most valuable developmental objective I can have in my preschool. They will problem solve through math because of their experience with CGI story problems (This is a whole other article). They will problem solve through science because of the open-endedness of the lesson plans and experiences. They will problem solve through social-emotional problems and peer relationships, as they are guided through those interactions. Giving children these opportunities will give them the rich development that they need to be successful throughout all of their life.
As a bonus, if children have these incredible higher-level thinking abilities, reading and writing letters is going to come so easy to them.
Lauren Pace | Logan, Utah Preschool