Learning is so much easier when you want to learn and have the tools to do so (i.e. concepts and vocabulary). Therefore, it is easy to understand that at the foundation of the early education teacher’s job is to know where children are in their development and what they are interested in, and then extend that knowledge to establish and support a love of learning.
To that end 70 preschool teachers from across ECA’S 10-county service area recently attended ECA’s workshop, “Preparing preschoolers to become successful learners: A day devoted to literacy and math.” The day long program featured two early childhood professionals: Jan Sarratore, early childhood consultant/educator; and Dawn Cole-Easterday, former ECA trainer/center curriculum coordinator.
Throughout the presentations, the speakers demonstrated techniques that not only provided ways to introduce concepts, but also fit with Indiana’s Foundations to the Academic Standards for Children, birth to age 5.
“The Foundations include skills and experiences for a child’s development and address skills and competencies that children are to achieve from birth to age five. …they serve as a guide for educators to use in assisting young learners gain knowledge and skills in the early years that will prepare them for success in school.” 1
At the preschool level, teachers introduce concepts that will help children transition to the traditional activities and vocabulary of kindergarten. For example, preschool mathematics is much more than counting to 30. Through basic activities, children are learning number sense and operations, geometry, measurement, algebra and data analysis. However, those concepts are introduced through age-appropriate techniques, such as:
- Using cardinal and ordinal numbers and symbols (zero, one; first, second; 1, 2, 3)
- Understanding adding and taking away
- Understanding that the whole can be divided and parts can be added to make a whole
Some of the strategies presented for making literacy visible were:
- Associating writing with words
- Adding writing to a picture story
- Following printed words as a story is read
- Representing action with drawing
- Writing from left to right with strokes and shapes that represent letters
- Correctly grasping a writing tool
Today parents, educators and community leaders understand the impact of early care and education more than ever before. And research has shown that a key determinant in early childhood education is the teacher/caregiver. Continuing education for early childhood teachers is critical in ensuring the best outcomes as children transition from preschool to kindergarten.
1 Indiana Department of Education, Family Social Services Administration. (2012). Foundations to the Academic Standards for Young Children Birth to Age 5.
Article reprinted from the past community newsletter.