Recently I was sitting at a meeting of public school educators who teach preschool through 5th grade, when a preschool teacher started talking to me about the spelling lists that she used in her classroom. I knew that her intent was to wow me with the latest and greatest from the preschool level, but her words had exactly the opposite effect on me. I could not believe what I was hearing, spelling for 4 year olds! What are we doing to our children? What pressure are we putting on these young minds that are not developmentally ready for this kind of advanced task? Spelling lists and spelling tests should NEVER be in any preschool. No exceptions.
“Often, early childhood educators give children worksheets because they and the parents want to see evidence that the children are learning. However, all young children, including kindergartners, learn best through appropriate hands-on
experiences and interactions with others.” Susan A. Miller and Patricia Cantor
Many preschools are feeling the trickle down pressure for their children to perform well in future standardized testing. Therefore, they are jumpstarting the paper and pencil work in preschool. 4 year olds should be doing NO paper and pencil work. Ever! Paper and pencil work does not accurately gauge whether or not a child understands the topic on the paper.
Parents, please choose wisely when selecting a preschool for your child. Ask your friends to make recommendations, make a visit and ask questions…lots of them. Along with no paper and pencil work, a few things a great preschool should have:
- Teachers who love what they are doing and it shows
- A clean and nurturing environment
- Low teacher – pupil ratios
- Oral language and then more oral language: stories, songs, fingerplays, puppet theaters
- Books: books read by the teacher and books for the children to explore on their own
- Opportunity to talk and listen with other classmates thus learning how to interact without mom or dad there to help
- Many different types of manipulatives to include blocks, lincoln logs, open ended toys that mandate use of the child’s imagination
- Painting, sand table, water table
I am a kindergarten teacher, but I know that the foundation for lifelong learners is begun years before the children ever walk through my doorway.