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How Young Children Learn

By Jeanne W. Lepper

The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.
--Robert Louis Stevenson

"What a beautiful child!" the parents exclaim over their new baby. Thus begins a life-long relationship of unconditional love and support that is essential for the child to thrive and develop. This nurturing is the foundation for the sense of security and self-esteem that directly affects a childs ability to achieve success later, to learn, as Robert Louis Stevenson would put it, about "a number of things." Here at Bing Nursery School, of course, childrens learning is the primary focus of parents and teachers. Consciously or not, we are all guided by certain principles of childrens development. Children Are Good Observers Children learn from actively investigating the world around them. Coming upon a construction site, for instance, a fouryear-old will be curious about the activity. The adult with the child should take the time to stop, really look at whats going

on, and direct the childs attention to the details. "Lets watch and see what happens while that dump truck unloads dirt. See how big the wheels are?" Children Respond Well to Open-Ended Questions Open-ended questions encourage children to think and reflect. "What made the shovel move like that?" "What do you think the driver is going to do now?" "Did you hear the motor make a noise? I wonder what will happen next." Giving children time to come up with their own answers, even misconceptions, starts them on the road to constructing explanations and building theories. Children Are Researchers Assisted by adults, children have numerous ways to explore their interests. A child intrigued by construction vehicles can look in books at home or at the library. Sand box toys such as shovels, containers, and vehicles can give the child a chance to replay experiences and act out observed roles in order to construct his or her own knowledge. Revisiting a construction site will help the child track the progress of the work, gain more information, and clarify misconceptions. With a sketchpad and pencil, the child can draw what he or she sees. The adult in tow can jot down the childs statements to help further the experience at the next opportunity. Children Benefit from Positive Models In a natural, almost unconscious, process, children follow

the examples set by others, modeling both behavior and the accompanying emotional tone. When children see their parents reading regularly, they want to read and be read to. When they see disrespectful or violent behavior, live or on television, they are just as likely to imitate it. Positive Suggestions Guide Children Responding to children positively helps them interact effectively with others. Often an adults first response to a childs undesirable behavior is negative, controlling, emphasizing what the child cannot do: "Dont throw this ball here." But usually a more effective approach suggests what the child can do: "Thats a good place to throw the ball." Children Learn Through Play Play is the childs work, perhaps the childs most important way of learning. This learning process occurs even when it may not be obviouswhen children actively explore their environment and act on their inborn curiosity. Adults can contribute to this natural process by encouraging childrens interests and efforts, talking to them about what they are experiencing, and helping them elaborate and extend their play. Children Learn from Their Peers When children play with siblings and friends, they learn from each other. As questions, challenges, and conflicts arise, they learn how to solve problems. For example, three-yearold Sarah is in the block area trying to balance a structure

and bridge the gap to "put a roof on my house." Her more experienced four-year-old playmate Lakisha suggests, "Lets try the longer blockit looks like it might fit better." This mixed-age play in particular allows children to learn in two ways, both by modeling the behavior of older children and by "teaching" younger children. Children Learn With Support It doesnt work just to tell children "You must share." At best, such orders are effective only temporarily while adults are present. However, when adults guide children through the process of taking turns or waiting for a turn, the children can internalize those strategies and use them the next time. For instance, a two-year-old wants a turn pushing a wagon, but both wagons are in use. A teacher says so that all can hear, "Jason is really waiting for a turn. Hell be ready as soon as youre done. Lets see what you can do, Jason, until theyre finished. You can help put some more leaves in the wagon. Heres a rake to get another pile ready." This approach helps the child have a role and a way to enter the play. Such emotionally supportive language also helps children view adults as their advocates. It helps them solve problems rather than turning the situation into an adversarial struggle. Often, when asked first how they could solve a problem, children think of the best solution. Children Learn by Using Basic Materials Young children learn by doing. Helping with cooking, chores, and other real work is of tremendous interest and

value to them. This hands-on learning is also encouraged with open-ended materials such as the following: Materials for drawing, writing, and constructing: paper, pencils (thick primer ones are best for young children), crayons, scissors, glue, and tape. Commonly found materials such as cardboard boxes, which offer children many opportunities to represent their ideas. Easel paints and water colors for painting. Water, sand, playdough, and clay for sensory experiences. Building blocks (hardwood unit blocks are best), Legos, and puzzles for building and manipulating. Dress-up clothes, hats, and props for taking on roleseven better if children can make their own costumes. Dolls and doll clothes, so children can play out roles they have experienced. Some simple musical instruments and opportunities to listen to music. The outdoors for investigating nature and for running, climbing, and other active play essential for large motor development. The more hands-on experiences children have, the more curious and capable they become and, best of all, the more joy they feel at learning "a number of things."

Philosophy of Learning

A child learns as a whole person. Children develop and learn across all areas physical, social, emotional, moral, aesthetic, and cognitive. All of these areas interact. A child progresses through stages of cognitive development. Children vary widely in their learning rates, styles, and personalities. All areas do not develop at the same rate, even within the same child. We focus on the successes of each individual rather than on what the child doesnt know. A child is an active, not a passive learner. Children learn by doing. Our learning environment of centers, projects, and learning experiences fosters active learning. The teacher is a facilitator of learning, not just a giver of knowledge. A child constructs her own knowledge of the world. Children learn from personal interaction with their surroundings, from direct experience with real objects, from talking and writing about their experiences and ideas, and from applying what they have learned. A childs learning is individual. Children are unique. They need access to different learning styles and open-ended experiences. Instead of comparing them to each other or to a certain timeline of learning.

A childs learning is a process. Children learn to problem-solve by being personally engaged in solving problems. They learn social skills by interacting with others. We use the process approach to learning where children learn skills in the process of becoming readers, writers, and problem solvers. A child learns best when the activity is meaningful and relevant. The more meaningful an activity is to children, the more they understand, learn, and remember. Learning activities are centered on childrens interests and needs. A child learns from social interaction. Children learn from interacting with each other. They learn by observing differences in others. As they work together, they discuss differing viewpoints and learn to explain their views and ideas. We use social interaction in learning centers, group discussions, cooperative groupings, and peer tutoring to foster social interaction. A child learns by imitation. Children learn by imitating their parents, their teachers, and their peers. Modeling is a powerful educational tool in multi-age classrooms. A childs emotions impact his learning. Childrens emotions and feelings directly interact with learning. When they are interested in a topic, they enjoy learning. Gaining self-confidence in their abilities helps children to love learning.


Montessori and your child A Primer for Parents By Terry Malloy1974 All Rights Reserved Published by Nienhuis Montessori USA, Mountain View, California

Our Program The program concentrates on four areas of language acquisition: Reading, listening, speaking and writing. Each lesson is one hour; students will spend approximately 15 minutes per area. Students can sign up for more than one lesson per day. Each area is integrated so as to maximize retention of what is being learned. Once enrolled, the student will be given a proficiency test to place him/her in the correct level. Students are able to progress through the curriculum at their own pace, regardless of age or grade. The student must pass the exam at the end of each level to move to the next level; upon successful completion of a level the student will receive a certificate. 1) Writing a) Handwriting b) Spelling c) You will develop the ability to generate and organize your ideas, to support those ideas with examples or evidence, and to compose in standard written English in response to an assigned topic.

d) Sentence structure: punctuation, subject, predicate, phrase, and clause. e) Parts of speech: noun, verb, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. 2) Reading a) Read a passage and be able to deduce idioms, inferences, main idea, fact and opinion, finding detail. b) Vocabulary across the core curriculum, including homonyms, synonyms, antonyms. c) In this section the student will read a sentence that has one blank spot. There will be four choices of words or phrases to choose from. You will have to choose the one that you think completes the sentence. When sentence is complete it must be grammatically correct. d) Read a passage and be able to understand and analyze what you have read. e) We teach reading from beginning phonetic reading and word building to advanced reading for comprehension 3) Speaking a) Emphasizing pronunciation, intonation, grammar, vocabulary, content, and cohesion. b) Sentence structure and word order.

c) Question and Answer, dialogue d) Learn to interact with people by asking and answering questions. e) Learn to speak spontaneously and convey your ideas clearly and coherently. f) Oral presentation skills 4) Listening a) Listening Comprehension b) Listening for understanding and be able to answer questions about what you heard. c) Listen to a book being read as you read along to develop a feel for the rhythm of spoken language, intonation and pronunciation. d) Dictation Sample Educational Philosophy Statements Sample #1 My Philosophy Statement on Education I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature

emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. It is my desire as a educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. There are three elements that I believe are conducive to establishing such an environment, (1) the teacher acting as a guide, (2) allowing the child's natural curiosity to direct his/her learning, and (3) promoting respect for all things and all people. When the teacher's role is to guide, providing access to information rather than acting as the primary source of information, the students' search for knowledge is met as they learn to find answers to their questions. For students to construct knowledge, they need the opportunity to discover for themselves and practice skills in authentic situations. Providing students access to hands-on activities and allowing adequate time and space to use materials that reinforce the lesson being studied creates an opportunity for individual discovery and construction of knowledge to occur. Equally important to self-discovery is having the opportunity to study things that are meaningful

and relevant to one's life and interests. Developing a curriculum around student interests fosters intrinsic motivation and stimulates the passion to learn. One way to take learning in a direction relevant to student interest is to invite student dialogue about the lessons and units of study. Given the opportunity for input, students generate ideas and set goals that make for much richer activities than I could have created or imagined myself. When students have ownership in the curriculum, they are motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to reach their goals. Helping students to develop a deep love and respect for themselves, others, and their environment occurs through an open sharing of ideas and a judicious approach to discipline. When the voice of each student is heard, and environment evolves where students feel free to express themselves. Class meetings are one way to encourage such dialogue. I believe children have greater respect for their teachers, their peers, and the lessons presented when they feel safe and sure of what is expected of them. In setting fair and consistent rules initially and stating the importance of every activity, students are shown respect for their presence and time. In

turn they learn to respect themselves, others, and their environment. For myself, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as an educator is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. I feel there is a need for compassionate, strong, and dedicated individuals who are excited about working with children. In our competitive society it is important for students to not only receive a solid education, but to work with someone who is aware of and sensitive to their individual needs. I am such a person and will always strive to be the best educator that I can be.

Sample #2

Philosophy Statement

I believe the children are our future... I believe each and every child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world. I will help children to develop their potential by believing in them as capable individuals. I will assist children in discovering who they are, so they can express their own opinions and nurture their own ideas. I have a vision of a world where

people learn to respect, accept, and embrace the differences between us, as the core of what makes life so fascinating. Teach them well and let them lead the way... Every classroom presents a unique community of learners that varies not only in abilities, but also in learning styles. My role as a teacher is to give children the tools with which to cultivate their own gardens of knowledge. To accomplish this goal, I will teach to the needs of each child so that all learners can feel capable and successful. I will present curriculum that involves the interests of the children and makes learning relevant to life. I will incorporate themes, integrated units, projects, group work, individual work, and hands-on learning in order to make children active learners. Finally, I will tie learning into the world community to help children become caring and active members of society. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride... My classroom will be a caring, safe, and equitable environment where each child can blossom and grow. I will allow children to become responsible members of our classroom community by using strategies such as class

meetings, positive discipline, and democratic principles. In showing children how to become responsible for themselves as well as their own learning, I am giving them the tools to become successful in life, to believe in themselves, and to love themselves. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be... Teaching is a lifelong learning process of learning about new philosophies and new strategies, learning from the parents and community, learning from colleagues, and especially learning from the children. Children have taught me to open my mind and my heart to the joys, the innocence, and the diversity of ideas in the world. Because of this, I will never forget how to smile with the new, cherish the old, and laugh with the children.