Strategies for Successful Learning Part Two: Enable Children to Lead Lessons
This is the second in a three-part series that looks at the learning process. Last month’s issue featured “Part One: Create a Safe and Nurturing Environment.”
At Children’s Courtyard, teaching is a science as well as an art. Science comes into play as we plan experiences for young children based on what we know about developmentally appropriate practices and lessons. Our teachers draw from a wealth of lesson plans that are designed to help children understand increasingly complex concepts and inspire them to seek out new challenges. However, we also approach teaching as an art form, creating amazing masterpieces of learning in which children lead, or take us where they need to go.
Our teachers look for ways to incorporate children’s interests so that they are more fully engaged in learning. For example, if the teacher’s plan is to continue to learn about dinosaurs, but the children all of a sudden are more interested in cars, we accommodate by using cars to teach various ideas and skills – from literacy, to math concepts (how many red cars can we see on the street?), to science (by using the sensory table to find out which cars sink and which cars float), and more. Tapping into a child’s interests shows him that we know what’s important to him and that we value his ideas. Focusing on his interests makes learning more meaningful.
Children’s Courtyard teachers also enable children to lead in lessons that are presented in an open-ended way. We are facilitators, providing encouragement with the time, space, tools and freedom for children to explore skills at their own level. For example, teachers model the skill of writing as children dictate their stories for teachers to write. Through this process, children are able to observe how their words become symbols that have meaning for others. While the materials might be the same for each child – such as a bowl of water, cups of various sizes for pouring, sponges, and a scale – the children will use them in different ways and have a unique response regarding what they observe and learn.
Be sure to talk with your child’s teacher to make the most of learning opportunities that tie in with his or her latest interests!
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Check back next month for Part Three: Monitoring Your Child’s Progress.