feels like abc's boot camp sometimes

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by teacherR, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. teacherR

    teacherR Companion

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    Aug 25, 2009

    I am enrolling for my preschool and the number one question I get is about academics and homework. When ever I explain that children learn through play, I hear how the preschool down the road focuses on academics. Sometimes I feel like I should be running an academic boot camp. Why can't kids be kids? Are social skills no longer necessary in this world? Sometimes I worry that there will one day be no dancers, painters, or musicians.

    To me preschool is all about having a great first time school experience. It is about helping them develop a since of self and an ever growing love of knowledge not memorizing the alphabet or rote counting to 10. I am wondering what other preschool teachers think and what they say when they encounter the, "what about academics" question. Have you been successful in helping parents see that there is more to school then ABC's and 123's? Or should I give up and start running of dittos by the handfuls?
     
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  3. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Aug 25, 2009

    I totally agree.
     
  4. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    We just document document document to show the learning that is happening.

    We also don't shy away from doing letters and numbers, just not in a drill and kill fashion.
     
  5. preteach

    preteach Rookie

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    I think parents just want to be reassured that their child will be ready for K and not behind the other kids. For me, it is all about balance.
     
  6. Maxadoodle

    Maxadoodle Comrade

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    Our parents have a whole network thing going on in our main feeder schools and neighborhood. Many new parents use recommendations from past parents of our preschool in their decision to come to us. When potential parents ask, we tell them that while we are play based, we do academics in an age appropriate manner.
     
  7. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I absolutely believe children do and should learn by playing.

    I understand your philosophy and agree for younger children but if you are talking 4 year olds, I do think you have to expose them to the concepts they need to be successful in today's modern kindergartens. It doesn't mean much of the learning isn't play-based, but I think there has to be some teacher-directed activities to help children become competent in basic skills needed to learn to read in kindergarten. Whether it is age appropriate or not, parents aren't going to keep coming to my program if their kindergarten teachers say they are behind coming in.
     
  8. amethysst

    amethysst Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2009

    I understand and agree completely. I think the children learn better through play...but I also feel that more and more is being expected earlier and earlier....

    I think being able to write first and last names, knowing address and phone number, parents names, colors, shapes, count 1 to at least 30 by rote, count at least 1 to 20 with one to one correspondence,
    recognizing letters of the alphabet by sight and their sounds is enough pressure for a four year old.

    Nothing wrong with exposing them to writing, but I think playdough letters, letters in sand, letters with bodies, blocks, shaving cream, etc is more age appropriate...if they take it further no problem give them paper and pencil but don't stress them out about it.

    I think they need the foundation to be strong enough to build on....and like the song says "Let them be Little".

    How about teaching them to get along with one another, not to snatch toys from another person, sit and listen to a story. I believe social skills are just as important....the child can have a high academic level and IQ but if he can't keep his/her hands to themselves or respect others what good is the intelligence level?
     
  9. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Aug 26, 2009

    I have been known to tell parents that my main goal is that their kids are able to learn in a classroom group. I'm happy if they can write and know their letters and count and do patterns... but if they can't sit and pay attention to a story or discussion in a group, or share materials appropriately with their friends, then they're going to be a behavior problem in Kindergarten. If they're able to participate in a group, they won't have any problem learning anything they missed in K.

    Not that I don't work on the academics... but the beginning of the year especially, social/ behavior is more important :)
     
  10. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    I still say that the most important thing isn't what the kids can do. It isn't. It is what the Kindergarten goals say that the exiting Kindergartener should be doing. If you are asking the preschoolers to do things that are at the exit level for Kinder then you know you are going too far.

    I use the guidelines for preschool and kinder exit and cut the difference.

    School is very happy.

    I was shocked when i saw the state standards for exiting kinder.

    check on line---wa state.

    the kids will do what they do, and you have a day to fill. if you stay on task and do the job,,,,,,everyone will progress.
     
  11. Liljag

    Liljag Companion

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    Aug 27, 2009

    Preschool children learn through play. This doesn't mean that
    academics are completly dismissed in pre-school..things like
    math and science come up in everyday situations (such as
    in setting the table..how many plates are there? for an example). Entire philosophies of teaching are founded upon the premise that play is important to children's learning (Reggio Emila as an example) and everyone from Developmental Psychologists (Piaget = Finger Intelligence) to pedagogical theorists (Vygotsky for one) emphasize that playing is important to learning. Therefore it has to be an intergrated part of school. I know that in my country's curriculum for preschool, it says the following

    "The ability to communicate, to learn and be able to co-operate are necessary in a society characterised by a huge flow of information and rapid speed of change. The pre-school should provide a foundation so that children in the future can acquire the knowledge and skills which make up the common framework that all in society need.

    Children should have the opportunity of developing their ability to
    observe and reflect. The pre-school should be a living social and cultural environment that stimulates children into taking initiatives and developing their social and communicative competence. Children should also have the opportunity to explore on their own an issue in greater detail and to look for their own answers and solutions. Play is important for the child’s development and learning. Conscious use of play to promote the development and learning of each individual child should be an omnipresent activity in the preschool. Play and enjoyment in learning in all its various forms stimulates the imagination, insight, communication and the ability to think symbolically as well as the ability to co-operate and solve problems. Through creative and imaginary games, the child will get opportunities to express and work through their experiences and feelings." (Curriculum for the Preschool, Sweden , Lpfö 98)

    Preschool for me is a place where children recieve the ground for their democratic values. Due to the fact preschool is usually the first time children interact with a larger group, it is important to emphasize that social skills are extremely important at this stage. Yes children can learn their numbers and such, but I don't think that preschools should focus on how much they (the kids) should have in their heads but whether they have the ability to work well with others, are they having fun, etc. Why put them under so much academic stress when they are so young? It doesn't improve their ability to learn academically in the future and a stress-free play environment can just as easily develop a livelong love of learning as one that is completly focused on the academics of it.
     
  12. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Aug 27, 2009

    Exactly. That is what I am saying.
     
  13. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Aug 27, 2009

    Liljag,

    Many of us agree with you, however our 5 years olds are expected to learn to read in kindergarten or they are considered "at risk". If they don't know many of their letters before they go to kindergarten they are considered behind by many kindergarten teachers who struggle with getting everybody reading. It is crazy but that is the way it is.
     
  14. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    Ditto. I had a girl in my pre-k class a few years ago who reeeeally struggled with learning her letters. She had mastered only a fraction of them by the end of the year, and lost most of those over the summer. Her kindergarten teacher came in my room the second week of school to tell me she had called the girl's parents to tell them how behind she was and that they better step up the working with her at home, because she didn't have time to catch her up in school. It was crazy, and made me feel really terrible, but what can you do?
     
  15. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Aug 27, 2009

    I wish we could be more play-based, but it's not how it is in my district. We are highly structured, highly academic....starting with teaching the first of our sight words on day 5 of school. And, like the most recent two posts, we have accountability levels that we must meet with our kids....designed and enforced by people who have no experience with small children, of course. It's not only the KDG teachers that think the kids are behind if they don't enter KDG with all of their letters and numbers and sounds. It's the people at the Board of Ed, at the state level, the people who make our standardized assessments, etc.

    There is a lot of pressure on little kids nowadays.
    Kim
     
  16. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Another example of wrong thinking for preschoolers happened in my room this spring. They banned field trips to parks (not educational) and then when the assistant superintendant toured my room he looked at my room and saw the playground. He asked me if the kids went outside in a tone of voice that said he didn't think they should. I quickly answered that I followed the state preschool standards and couldn't meet gross motor skill standards without going outside to play. He said, "oh, oh - standards - I understand standards - you should go outside then!" #$%^$#$#%^&& (if you know what I mean!)
     
  17. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Yep, that is what I am saying. I use the standards to defend my postion on including huge hunks of play. We are an extended day program.....but still.

    I am not saying that I don't meet standards, but when I am setting the table and asking the team that is working on that task how many people are in the room and then watch them set the table for that number, problem solve when i deliberately don't hand out enough plates and use one to one correspondance to get a full place setting to each place===I make darn sure I mark it off as a math standards center.

    Then when we discuss healthy snack as oppossed to sugar snack I mark of health/well being and safety.

    I am totally meeting objectives, standards and turning out qualitified kindergarten applicants. I am just not letting the kids know what I am doing.
     
  18. japanesemacaque

    japanesemacaque Rookie

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    Aug 28, 2009

    It's really hard- that's why I opened up my own preschool, rather than trying to conform to someone else's standards. The truth is, when I think about all the jobs I've had ever since I was 16, the only people I remember working with were those who clearly did not learn their social skills in preschool! LOL

    When parents ask me about academics, I always compliment their parenting skills. Mostly I feel like it's not the kid who's being pressured, but the parent! As a parent myself, I hear other parents competing with each other all the time..."Little Emma knows her ABC's and she's only 2" "Well little Wyatt was just born and is already quoting Shakespeare" etc etc. When they turn on me, I say my daughter is perfect just the way she is, because she is, and so are the kids in my preschool!

    Usually parents transfer their own insecurities onto their children- I see it all the time. I notice that when they feel in control, they nitpick a lot less. I always recommend at-home enrichment activities and after-school programs if I think they are responsive. In the end, they chose my school, so if they really don't like it, well, they can un-choose it.

    All I know is that when my daughter gets to preschool, I want to see lots and lots of playdoh in her fingernails!
     
  19. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Good job, and you are so right
     
  20. Liljag

    Liljag Companion

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    Aug 29, 2009

    I guess one can see how different school systems prioritize different things. Our 5 year olds do learn to read but at their own pace..as in it is not an expectation and there is no specific goal they must meet. I just don't understand why play cannot be intergrated into learning how to read..I think play can be virtually intergrated into anything and the kid starts to enjoy school/learning. Play is intergrated into reading here through various language excercises, playing with books/writing nonsense language, going out on hikes and reading books in new environments, creating themes around books, freeplay with books etc... And yes, I do think it is stupid if kindergarten teachers think kids are behind because they cannot read at 5. Kindergarten is for bringing kids into a school atmosphere, preschool is for creating the social skills that allow kids to respect others and shape the foundations for a livelong love of learning.
     
  21. teacherR

    teacherR Companion

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    I think that it is on us as educators to change things. If we do not advocate on behalf of the children then who will? They should not be feeling academic pressure at 5. And they are smart, they know when they are not where we as adults feel they should be. I have seen 4 year olds throw papers away because they were not "good enough". What kind of message are we sending when they don't even trust themselves enough to be proud of how far they have come in their little lives. Who exactly are we competing with? Each other for the smartest kid? The rest of the world? Half of these children just learned how to use the bathroom for themselves and drink from a "normal" cup without a lid and I am supposed to teach them to read novels and do math equations. Sometimes I get them to the point where they can wipe themselves or put on their own jacket and am filled with pride for their accomplishments only to be told that they are not good enough or smart enough for kindergarten. For goodness sake, how silly.
     
  22. Beverly

    Beverly Comrade

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    I have a new coteacher (for 4's & 5's who missed the kindergarten cutoff) and she has been saying things like "You don't know how to spell your color words???" She wants to have the kids sit at the tables and write every day. I feel like she doesn't understand the difference between the entrance expectations for kindergarten students and the exit expectations. I'm just afraid that she's going to turn the kids off from school, reading, and writing.
     
  23. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    That is my big point in my community. Know the "real" entrance expectations. Not the "my school/parents want....x,y,z" expectations. I keep them on file right by my parent board, so I can find them.

    My kids write, but they do it with the sounds they hear not the letters that spell it right.
     
  24. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Sep 16, 2009

    Ha, I only laugh because I feel the same way. Know your State Entrance and exit learning objectives......and fight for other to know them too.
     
  25. sarzacsmom

    sarzacsmom Groupie

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    I think it's very possible to crate a balance between the two. I work in an academic based preschool program, but I don't use a lot of dittos. I use games and such and the kids enjoy doing "big kid " work when we pretend we are in big kid school and do writing practice. Most of the time when I do use dittos it's part of a project and they are cutting it out to use to make theproject. Today we did astonauts and rocket ships--- there was a ditto with pctures of atronauts that they colored however they wanted and cut out. We glued them on balck paper andthey made dots of glue and sprinkled it with silver glitter---to look like outer space. We talked about the letter A and the sound it makes like in "astronaut" Then we made rocketships out of paper towel tubes and aluminu foil and glued pictures of things that start with A on them
     
  26. sarzacsmom

    sarzacsmom Groupie

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    My point to thatlst post was that I was teaching the academics,but the kids were having a blast (no pun intended). We played the space story song and they counted backwards from 10 to "blast off" their rocket ships and acted out the song. I covered alot of areas with that project, the kids had a lot of fun and everyone was happy
     
  27. kidsandpups

    kidsandpups Companion

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    Sep 16, 2009

    I taught a summer school kindergarten class for two summers. If a child left kindergarten at a DRA level of below a 4 they were recommended for summer school.
     
  28. Beverly

    Beverly Comrade

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    Sep 16, 2009

    sarzacsmom, those rocketships sound cool! Take any pictures? :) I know how to balance academics with fun, but my coteacher.. well, I wouldn't say that she doesn't do fun and appropriate things.. she just seems to put way too much emphasis on reading and writing.
     
  29. teacherehcaet

    teacherehcaet New Member

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    I work in a school that emphasizes independence and early learning. The preschoolers do a lot of individual quiet work and barely any group work. Because of this, we have children with terrible social skills, behavioral problems, and cooperate poorly. We lack art, music, history, dramatic play, and science. The school was awarded best of state - why!? It just proves how important play is. Who cares if a child can read by 5 when they can't communicate properly?
     
  30. sarzacsmom

    sarzacsmom Groupie

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    no,unfortuantly I didn't takeany pictures of the rocket ships,but the idea came from abook called Letter of the Week prek-k book 2 by mailbox
     

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