A good day at Kids’ Cabin would be one where I get to have a chat with a parent and talk about our approach to early childhood education.
Well today, I had that chance. My friend and her 3 year old son just came from an interview for Pre-K admission in one of the big schools in the city. She told me how her son was asked to name letters in the alphabet, name the numbers 1-10, and how they asked her son to write. He was unable to name the alphabets as the test master pointed each one. Neither was he able to name the numbers 1-10. Liv was dismayed. It was understandable.
So I asked, did they greet him or was he made to feel comfortable in a place that a 3-year old will be seeing for the first time? Did they ask… if he wanted to play? if he had any playmates? if he knew his mommy’s name? if he can throw a ball? if he can walk backwards? if he can pour himself a glass of water? if he… oh, I can go on with the appropriate skills that her son can do well, but it dawned on me that that is not how it works here. Not yet.
For some months now, Lana Jelenjev and I have been in constant communication as to how much early childhood education needed to be reshaped and how we can collaborate with other educators to do this. We totally realize this need and Lana tells us why:
“Because we value children. We value that they are competent individuals with potential for learning and thinking. We also value their growth and development. As early childhood educators we know the importance of letting them explore the world through their senses. In the formative years, the most crucial support that the school can provide is to be the haven that can provide young children with sensory opportunities that promotes their development – not just cognitively but equally important are the other aspects of their development such as physical, social, emotional and language development. We put equal weight in promoting the wholistic child. We also put merit in being the environment that scaffolds learning without giving undue pressure to the child. Naming numbers without a firm grasp of number sense does not enrich a child’s mathematical abilities. Far from it, it teaches a child to rely on memorization which is a basic cognitive function. What is emphasized in an environment where sensory learning is used, is how math is seen and applied in the daily activities. How many steps do we use when we go up the stairs? How many buttons do you have? How many cookies in total do you and I have? How many cups do you think we need to fill in this jug?”
“We emphasize on the skill set that children need to be engaged and excited with mathematical learning. Knowing what we know on how best children learn, we provide the experiences that will make them count, estimate, understand similarities and differences, use numbers to solve problems and other skills essential to promote competence in math. We do this in an environment that respects children. In an environment that allows children to explore and learn without relying on rote learning or drilling information solely through worksheets. We provide the engagement needed to get children excited about learning. We provide the environment that teaches children about thinking. And we also provide the environment that emphasizes their value as individuals. Children are competent. They learn best in an environment that scaffolds their knowledge and skills instead of putting them in a “one box fit everyone mold.” That is why we as early childhood educators start from where the child is.”
That is how much we value the children in our care.