Early educators everywhere are being called to push math and science and literacy. So my question is, what exactly do they presume that we are doing? Playing, I guess. However, if the education system is failing, if the education system is getting worse- isn't it time to turn around from the direction educational politics are taking us and perhaps ask someone who knows how to educate children? Isn't it time to ask teachers?
Why are we asking business men how to best educate our children? Why are we asking politicians, lawyers, and anyone but teachers how to educate our children? Do you think that business men, lawyers, and political- science students studied child development in depth?
Take writing. Children cannot write until they have the proper hand development to do so (this usually happens at about 4), and until the have the fine muscle coordination to do so. They have to through 5 stages of scribbling to be able to write. If they are never allowed to scribble because it is "playing," how then, are can they ever learn to write? Furthermore they need to have an understanding of words and how they are used, that letters are part of words, and words are used to communicate. They need to understand the connection between printed and spoken word.
"Many people today struggle and give up communicating with others because their linguistic foundation is weak." -Bev Bos
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but the bottom line is, in a DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE CLASSROOM children are learning what they need to, when they need to. Expecting a child who as not gained the proper experiences to read and write (after only having been on the planet for three years) is like teaching a seventh grader, who has not yet mastered even algebra (let alone trig or geometry), calculus. It might be possible, but it makes no sense and what important mathematical discoveries did he or she miss? I'll go one more: it is like cutting of his or her hands and expecting them to play catch.
Example One: When children are playing, they are learning. Playing in a sensory bin of mixed beans they may (and probably will) practice sorting, practice counting, examine and label colors and more.
Example Two: Using pipettes with runny paints on a paper towel canvas put on an easel allows develops fine motor skills that they need to write and cut. It also allows them to mix colors and see what happens. They can also observe absorption and the effects of gravity. In the words of Bev Bos children need "experiences to attach words to," (Turning Over the Page, Bev Bos). An activity like this and a billion others that are happening in preschool rooms all over the country, and the world, everyday.
Here are blog entries from other people that really should be read:
Turning Over the Page: A Rant For Children's Play, Bev Bos
The Power of Play, David Elkind
Play = Learning, Singer, Golinkoff, Hirsh-Pasek