I believe that we are all active learners, constantly absorbing new data from our environments, using our minds to merge the creative with the actual, and the fundamental with the ideal. Active learning is defined as learning by being physically and mentally engaged in activities. As the teacher, my goal is to actively teach the children while maintaining a positive yet helpful attitude, in a low pressure and respectful atmosphere.
Personally, I think of the relationship between the teacher and the student as a bow and arrow, with the teacher [bow] gently steadying and providing the stable structure to guide the student [arrow] along on its path, gracefully arcing through the air. For my classroom, I would like to create a warm and educational environment that provides intellectual as well as emotional support for the child and their family, while demonstrating the sound skills absorbed in class. Ideally I would aim to balance the “old school” and the “new school” theories of education.
To achieve this atmosphere, I would incorporate aspects of the High/Scope Method, Erikson’s theory of Psychosocial Development, Maslow’s Multiple Intelligences, and sensory materials prevalent in the Montessori School. Classroom Environment Geared towards the current stages of development of the child, my program would utilize the broad and realistic educational experiences that are designed to promote a constructive process of learning. Theme-related material will serve to peak their interest and establish the link between the core aspects of the lesson and real-life applications.
A “center” based classroom set up encourages children to interact with others in developmentally appropriate play and inspires creativity. Maintaining a daily schedule allows for children to get accustomed to routine and also for teachers to correctly determine the children’s individual schedules and learning processes. Focusing on the child’s key experiences will serve to foster development of important skills and abilities. Incorporating work time, recall time and cleanup time further fosters the development of routine-based practices and will help teach the importance of self accountability.
Acting out the routines of adults, the children will learn how to manage their time as well as take care of their surroundings. Interactions with classmates will provide the necessary social skills and establish methods of early conflict resolution practices. In order to properly engage the child’s mind, the classroom must be appropriate, safe, interactive, organized, and embracing to the different cultures and ethnicities present in today’s society. Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development According to Erik Erikson, “Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive.
If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired. ” Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development occurs in stages, and takes the child’s entire social interactions and life experiences into account. According to Erikson, our personality is shaped not only by our natural disposition, but more so by the society that we live in. Erikson’s theory centers around the concept of ego identity, the sense of ourselves that we develop based upon our social interactions, and the concept of ego strength or ego quality, which is the sense of mastery or inadequacy that we feel after a certain stage in our life.
Each stage is like a series of mini-tests, and our ability to pass or fail these tests either strengthens our resolve and personal confidence, or forces us to withdraw and evaluate ourselves more intensely. Erikson believed each stage was tied to a certain part of our development, and conflicts encountered would serve as training to help us develop and hone our psychological quality. Preschoolers fall into Erikson’s third stage of development, “Initiative versus Guilt. ”
It is during these early school years, children begin to feel pride and accomplishment, especially in peer-measured tasks. Parents who are involved with their child’s school activities and interested in their early academics help enforce these feelings of pride, and establish a bond based on encouragement and positive reinforcement. Conversely, children who receive little or no encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers will instead doubt their ability to be successful. Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences
Howard Gardener believed that people are smart in multiple ways, utilizing intelligences in eight specific areas. The eight areas are visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, math/logical, body/kinesthic, musical/rhythmic, intrapersonal, interpersonal and naturalistic. Visual/spatial skills relate to the visual realm and how things are perceived or seen. I will focus on arts and crafts that appeal to the visual aspect of learning, and how the visual perception relates to the actual reality. Verbal/linguistic skills cover the languages, including speaking, writing and listening.
My activities for enforcing these skills could be creative story writing, listening to foreign languages, reading story relating to concept material, doing word searches, crosswords, or practicing handwriting. Math/logical skills cover the problem solving and logical thought processes, so my planning will include activities such as board games, matching or card games, word or number puzzles, bingo and pattern associations. Body/kinesthic skills involve movement of the body, which I will enforce through exercise, dance or sports activities, as well as recess and certain games.
Musical/rhythmic skills tie in nicely with body movement, so I will incorporate singing, dancing or playing an instrument. Intrapersonal skills are associated with our feelings, values and attitudes, both intrinsic and learned, and teachers can create activities where children can discuss differences in background, family structure and culture that may influence these skills. Interpersonal skills, how we use our feelings during interaction with others, can be honed with group activities like dramatic role play and class projects.
Finally, to focus on naturalistic skills, the logical process of classification and hierarchy of things, my assignments will include tasks such as putting things in order by category, pattern identification or sorting objects with their type and purpose. Montessori’s Sensory Materials Founded on the ideas and practices of Maria Montessori, I would utilize the core principles of her methods in my daily routine. Keeping my promises and staying on schedule will help to create a respectful atmosphere, and keeping the lesson plans fresh and interactive will encourage learning through nvironment. The prepared and organized centers and related lesson activities will serve to support children in their self-education (a. k. a. auto-education) phase, and allow children freedom and choice of activity. By teaching skills related to everyday life, such as walking in an orderly fashion or carrying objects to the table, the children will be able to practice self care skills. I will provide sensory materials that are designed to promote learning through the five senses, thus creating an awareness of the body and its ability to learn from real life.
By encouraging role play, the children can prepare for adult occupation and construct their own version of the world around them. Furthermore, I will address the demands of diversity and disabiltilty in the classroom by using mixed age groups, promoting individual play within a supportive classroom, repetition of skills and acknowledging sensory perceptions and abilities. The Montessori influence will also be evident in my classroom setup, as I desire child-sized furniture with bright and coordinated colors to promote aesthetic awareness of the child’s environment. Identity of a Preschooler
A preschooler is a most usually a child between the ages of three to five, and has not yet entered kindergarten. During this stage, children are egocentric, preoperational, and unable to properly manage their time or self regulatory skills. Most theorists stress the emphasis of play during this stage as the most effective method of implementing solid learning practices and skill awareness. According to Piaget, play promotes cognitive schemes and enhances cognitive development. By maintaining a daily schedule, the preschooler can adjust to the naturally occurring activities and still maintain their individual learning pace.
Montessori believed that play was the equivalent of a child’s work and their preschool was equal to an adult’s place of work. Play provides for unintentional yet effective learning. Free play (a. k. a. informal play) helps broaden the child’s creative aspects, and allows for development of personal interests. Symbolic (pretend) and constructive play help children build and test theories, while functional and outdoor play enforce muscular activities. Children in this age group are open to learning, and are constantly questioning the elements of their surroundings.
Assessments – Formal versus Informal My major concern with assessment methods is that the spectrum for what is acceptable seems to vary from state to state or center to center. My goal is to streamline the assessment process and incorporate both informal and formal methods. Since assessment goes hand in hand with observation, I will encourage the active participation of the child in their own education, incorporating my own version of evaluating the child. My daily planning of activities and structured curriculum will allow for careful and accurate observation of the child.
In my experience with teaching preschool, children learn best when given a project or activity that reinforces the concepts learned that day. I would make every attempt to keep daily notes on each child’s behavior, attitude and progress in the classroom. By noting individual interests and preferences, I can identify the methods that best suit each child’s learning curve. As for formal assessments, standardized testing is one of the most relied upon methods for assessing a child and interpreting their skill levels to determine if the child is ready to proceed or be held back.
Additionally, it is important for me to consider not only the regulated standards, but also each child’s individual background. I feel that this consideration for the child’s individual situation will allow for a more accurate assessment. Although I feel that portfolio assessment can sometimes be too broad and open to interpretation, I do think that keeping artistic evidence of the child’s skill achievements can serve not only to pinpoint the progress of the child, but also as a confidence and self-esteem builder for the child.
Children are proud to show off their accomplishments and by displaying projects the child will learn to trust in their own natural abilities. Standards and Goals / Ideal Environment Appropriate goals that I would like each child to successfully master or at least become relatively proficient in are self-help skills, an awareness of healthy habits, a desire to learn, evident language and literacy development, and mostly a strong sense of character. I would like them to be able to express different areas of interest, including music and the arts, methods of learning, and interactive games.
Children that are not able to grasp the major content areas will be assessed more in-depth, and a conference with the parent(s) will be scheduled. Ideally, I will create a healthy, respectful, supportive and challenging environment that also maintains the developmentally appropriate practices and incorporates all children into the classroom learning environment. I would like for the parents to be involved and aware of their children’s learning practices. I will assign occasional homework, both to emphasize content covered in class and also to provide parents the opportunity to help their children learn.
I believe that parents who take an active role in their child’s education have a more positive and lasting impression on their child. Because of this, I will work to include the parents whenever possible, and keep them imformed of their child’s progress, no matter the speed of progression. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I desire to implement a program that is easy for parents to replicate within their home life, thus creating a unified method of child learning that can only serve to ease the learning process for the child.