Having completed 100 days of school and having accomplished some of the goals we had set for toddlers’ group, I would like to share some thoughts with you, concerning the way children take part in the process of knowledge. A few days ago, we went for a walk in our neighborhood and the children found and took pictures of letters or items that looked like letters. After that, we printed the alphabet and put it in our classroom.
The children use the alphabet every day so as to form words using pencils, markers, bricks or anything they find interesting. That was actually one of our goals. The active participation of every child in the process of knowledge and the ability to explore the world around them using several materials.
Children must have a reason to learn about a concept, distinguish letters or write numbers. Filling a worksheet is not a proper reason for them. On the contrary, activities linked to real life give children a good reason to learn and also enhance emotions like excitement and curiosity.
A lot of children in toddler and preschool years are what Piaget describes as “The Preoperational Stage of Cognitive Development. At this stage, letters and numbers do not really mean anything for kids up until the age of six. These children use specific, not abstract symbols to represent situations and ideas.
School teachers agree that reading, writing and arithmetic are undoubtedly important skills for a child. The question though is how and when they should be taught. Literacy is based on the idea that children can possess it while they are exposed to it. There are several ways though which teachers inspire their students to take part in activities that enhance the advance of their literacy skills.
When children express themselves through their bodies, words or the use of several materials, they develop skills for a more complex kind of communication. The opportunities of exploring new materials promote the sense of creativity, problem solving skills and support skills concerning mathematics and logic.
The environment itself is like a third instructor providing children with genuine experiences to play with, learn and develop. In the out-of-school environment there are also materials that help children to meet the “written world” as well.
In our group, all the training programs are based on interaction and presentation of information in multiple ways and the teaching process takes place through interactive and multi sensory techniques. Since language by definition has a cross sectional concept, all the activities concerning oral communication, reading and writing have to do with the topic we discuss about.
A worksheet could probably be an afterthought, not an activity on its own, only if children are at a proper age, when they can benefit from it. The use of worksheets instead of materials puts a lot of children in danger of school failure. This could have consequences for the years to come.
In the PISA competitions Greece was ranked third to last according to latest results (December 2019). The most persuasive explanation for these bad results is due to the educational system being focused on acquiring general -academic knowledge and not on developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills in everyday life. In fact, according to recent findings the importance of preschool education is pointed as a significant factor against academic failure in early school years. This is due to the fact that children are not familiar with the different forms of language that are relative to writing.
Our challenge is to convince parents and teachers that children will acquire important knowledge , skills and behaviors which will help them both at school and in life in general. Finally ,schools should focus on developing critical thinking and promoting everlasting desire for learning without the use of worksheets.