A great amount of my time is spent with children. But I thrive only on some short moments, lasting from 5 seconds to 15 minutes, a short time of eventful thinking that happens when a child can either be incessantly at work engaged in an activity, or appeared to be frozen in thought after a question has been asked. These are the moments I live for as a teacher, the moments I try to cultivate everyday through preparation, research and study. I call these “bamboo shoot” moments (a brain-based metaphor). Needless to say, teaching preschool is a science. And it feels so right because the here and now is the only thing that matters when the bamboo shoots shoot.
Now, here are the challenges: how does a preschool teacher keep the moments coming? What other questions should be asked a child in order for thinking routines to occur? What activities will keep the young child creatively busy? What learning environment should be developed and what learning tools should be made available? What experiences can be provided to equip children with important skills they will need in the future?
How can this get more challenging? Top the above questions with the setting of a developing country such as ours, the Philippines and consequently, the desire to reach out to a huge number of young children is felt because here, 4 babies are born every minute. And empirical data provides that the early childhood years are a crucial determinant of long lasting results throughout adulthood. With all the works that comes with a developing country, we need to have a problem solving generation, a solution focused cohort.
How? We have to draw attention on raising public awareness on the needs of young children and their families. We have to highlight the programs and providers of those programs that work to meet those needs. This is what NAEYC’s “Week of the Young Child”, with the theme: Early Years are Learning Years is calling for. Oh, how apt!
To heed the call, our playgroups will be engaged in activities that mean to highlight effective skills development in young children:
- Story-telling for social skills development;
- Art activities using materials for upcycling from the environment to foster creativity;
- Simple science experiments to develop forming hypotheses/predicting outcomes;
- Role playing games for perspective-taking;
- Outdoor play for appreciation of physical activities
To make this coming week special, parents and teachers from the community will be invited to observe and to participate in discussion forums with the program facilitators. With all the perks of teaching preschool, what a privilege this is to share ideas with the people that matter most in the lives of young children!