Every child is precious. His life is the center of hope for many people, not limited to his parents. They have a world in front of them to conquer.
They are a product of dreams and these dreams need actions to manifest in the real lives of these children. As teachers, we are responsible to equip them with useful tools that help them in their actions. We have to train them in literacy and academics. We are there to support their behavioral development. And we also help them with their emotional adventures.
But equipping them with these academic, behavioral, and emotional tools can only be effective if we know what their needs are and how much information and learning can their brains bear and retain.
We need to have an extensive understanding of their cognitive capabilities. Knowledge of their interests and their backgrounds and grooming is also important in creating a space where their talents are recognized as well as enhanced.
We need to apply this knowledge to develop age-appropriate education plans which are focused on the complete development of the child’s character.
Now let’s consider the cognitive and emotional needs of pre-schoolers and the practices which will respond to these needs.
Need for Belongingness
This need starts appearing since the birth of the child. But its expression becomes clearer during toddler and pre-school years. At this age, children associate more value with their relations with elders than the value they give to peer-to-peer relations.
We can use this need for social interactions to use modeling and positive reinforcement as perfect tools to equip them with pre-reading and pre-writing skills.
Storytime, where adults read out stories about their identity, role in society and schools, and their culture, is an adequate tool for instilling a love of reading. Plus, it also allows the children to understand the world and its processes.
By this age, children have already expanded their vocabulary to include more than 200 words. They can express their needs and desires.
They require further work on their vocabulary and this input comes in the form of rhymes, songs, stories, games, and pretend plays. Teachers can arrange opportunities for these children to explore new objects and learn new nouns and verbs according to these adventures.
Again, the best strategy, here, is to communicate with the child at their level. Talk to them about their experiences and encourage them to express themselves using words. Teachers can also encourage them to use words to name their feelings and deal with them.
Nurturing communication with elders allows the children to develop an interest in socialization. This will help their behavioral development and help them learn new life skills.
Love for paper
The need for belongingness will also combine with children’s innate curiosity. We can use this combination to model reading routines and love for academic learning.
Decorating the room or group space with the alphabet is one of the tools for instilling this love. Other tools include using picture prompts to let children weave stories around these pictures.
The teacher can also ask the children to draw different objects which they can see in the room or can remember at the time. Another activity is to let the children discuss a book before reading it to them during reading time.
The purpose of these academic-oriented activities is to incorporate paper and paper-based learning into their daily experiences so they can normalize it and own it.
There are numerous activities where we can use the age-appropriate interests of children to help them in taking up learning as a normal part of their lives. These practices are only effective if they are developed after considering the needs of the particular age of the children.
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