People seem frantic about how much children will learn in preschool. Parents are worried if their children cannot read and write fluently by the time they are 5 years old. Many public schools are doing entry interviews to determine skill levels before children enter kindergarten. It is not age appropriate for children entering kindergarten to be fluent readers and writers. If a child can read and write by age 5, that is lovely. It is also wonderful when young children are amazing architects building intricate block structures because they understand spatial relationships. Children with vivid imaginations are equally incredible because they are practicing early literacy skills such as oral language, use of symbolism and drawing conclusions from self-started stories. Adults tend to assess success by that which they can measure. Adults can see letters on a page and listen to reading. They can quiz children on rote knowledge. Studies show that when comparing students in 3rd grade, early “academic” preschool success or lack thereof becomes inconsequential. The achievements of the early years become less a part of future success as the children develop higher reasoning and thinking skills. The ability to read or write fluently at age 4 or 5 years old is not an indicator of sustained success in school or as adults. A foundation for continued success is based upon skills that are far less tangible.
Preschools and parents need to ensure that young children become confident decision makers. Confident decision makers become confident critical thinkers. Confident critical thinkers are problem solvers who can reason, create and understand complex tasks. Help your child to build self-confidence by allowing them to make decisions.
- Allow children to freely choose play activities. Their access to toys and their ability to move from one toy to another should not be restricted at home or at preschool. If there is a toy that you do not want as a choice for play, it should not be accessible. Be sure that a variety of acceptable toys are within reach.
- Ensure that crafts are child created. When doing craft projects, offer your children a plethora of materials. Sheep, for example, are not really made of cotton balls. There is no reason why children cannot make sheep from materials of their choosing. Allow them to choose materials, mix the play dough and make a mess with paint. They will learn so much about cause and effect.
- Allow children to choose their own clothing. There may be some occasions for which a child’s clothes must be chosen by adults but not many. Mismatched outfits worn by proud preschoolers are the best! There should not be a right or wrong to clothing being worn for play or for other everyday activities. As they enter the elementary school years and naturally become less egocentric, they will care more about what others are wearing. They won’t continue to mismatch crazy outfits unless it is in style, of course.
- Take opportunities to have children determine the course of their day. There are school days, appointments and other lessons filling the schedules of preschoolers and their parents. Sometimes, however, there are days when the mornings or afternoons are free. Take advantage of those days to help your children feel some control and make decisions. Give them two choices of possible activities and let them decide. Adults don’t need to always determine the course of every day.
When adults give up some control, they give a gift to young children. They foster self-confident, active thinkers. Self-esteem and decision making skills are a foundation for success that children will have for a lifetime.
Coming soon – Part 2: Facilitating Social Relationships in Preschool
Copyright 2012 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission. You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.