This morning, as I was perusing my Facebook feed, I came upon an article that immediately caught my attention. Entitled The Twisted World of Early Childhood Education, I was eager to read what the author wanted to share. Working as an Early Childhood Educator in a variety of forms and programs for several years, this kind of thing always sparks my interest. If it peaks your curiosity, too, head on over and read it here (but make sure you find your way back, okay?).
After reading what this ECE had to say, I went to share the post. However, what started as a few simple words to support this article quickly grew to several paragraphs. So, instead, I want to share my thoughts with you, here on my blog.
As an ECE I’ve seen many parents come to my preschools concerned that their 2-5 year old children aren’t getting enough instruction on letters and numbers, and it always makes me so sad that this is seen as the most important skill for children.
Dear parents, your preschool children don’t need to be able to regurgitate the alphabet. They don’t need to be able to know every colour from blue to soft magenta. Counting to 20 now is not going to help them be better learners throughout the lengthy school career they have in front of them.
But you know what will?
Learning how to make friends with their classmates. Being able to keep those friends by picking up on social cues and responding with kindness and fairness. Building communication skills to listen to what others are saying, and share their own thoughts and needs effectively through the Thousand Languages of Children.
What will help children succeed is learning how to discover what problems they face in a billion different play-based situations, and how to use their brains to solve those problems. Realizing what their bodies are like, what they can do with them, and how to strengthen those movements by trying them over and over again until they’re so full of playful exercise that they throw themselves down to rest, happy and healthy.
Early learners need to discover first-hand the properties of different materials, like sand, water, play-dough, glue and paper. They need to learn about physics and structure while building with blocks and the thousands of amazing childhood tools and natural objects that are out there. Find out that books can be full of eye-opening information and a source of incredible enjoyment, on one’s own or shared with a group. Realize how to work together on projects, and how powerful it can be when we work as a group.
All of this – and so much more – happens through play, more naturally and more effectively than it ever could stuck sitting at a desk, being drilled by a teacher who is struggling to keep the program going by ensuring good test scores in subjects that aren’t nearly as important as what children learn naturally, given the opportunity to bust out of their seats and actually be alive.
No one should feel the pressure to make children learn. They – we – were all born with an innate draw to do so.
Please, just let them play.
If you liked this post, I heartily suggest you read a previous post – Why Children Need Movement to Learn – which explains some very important information about prerequisites for raising children to be successful learners.