There are many styles of teaching which is, I believe, a good thing. All environments are not necessarily optimal for all children. When taking into consideration individual strengths of teachers, this further makes a compelling point on the side of style diversity. This article contains two examples of lesson styles in early childhood education.
Many who mainly teach from a traditional point of view, which can be extremely effective, often use lessons based on a particular topic, and are often referred to as Thematic. In those lessons a particular topic of interest resonates throughout the whole plan (which always contain Math, Science, Language, Art and Music Components…often these components are cross-curricular) and that’s where you may see the seasons of the year as a focus, or a particular animal or animal classification as the focus, or just a fun topic that you know your group of children are excited about such as “dinosaurs” or “rainbows”. This can generate interesting activities, great children’s stories, songs and art opportunities. What really makes this style of teaching come alive is that there is a plethora of teaching opportunities inherent in the style. Savvy early childhood teachers will use group time discussions to delve into interesting dialogues with their students to discover what the best motivational topics are and plan their curriculum accordingly.
A second type of plans is Literature Based Lessons. These plans contain lessons that relate directly to a specific piece of children’s literature that is fun, catchy, thought provoking and can easily become the focal point of the class or home curriculum. There are so many fabulous children’s books available that the possibilities are, for all intents and purposes…. limitless. Those sites are also listed on my Examiner page: Orlando Early Childhood Education Examiner. Using this style, a particular book is introduced as the literature selection of the week (or several selections of a particular author can be introduced simultaneously) and the selections create a sort of literature web as the focus for an entire month. There is plenty of room for individual interpretation as with all styles.
One tactic that I have had a good deal of success with, utilizing the literature based approach, is to focus on the particular author, look at the type of books he tends to write and the way he either illustrates or has an artist illustrate for him, and in the course of the activities point out the fact that the child, or class of children, are writers and artists themselves. We then explore what the child likes to write about…what is his/her particular “style” of writing or of illustrating his writing. This becomes easy to observe and then discuss with the child in the course of doing dictation for the child on his artwork or in working on his preschool journal.
When an adult takes the dictation of a child and writes it onto their art for them, the child becomes concomitant artist and author. Collecting the artwork with dictation in a notebook to form a first “journal” is an excellent preschool and/or Kindergarten activity, at school or at home. The earlier children understand that their own words have meaning, which can be written down, the more excited they become about the pre-reading and writing experience. The fact that their teacher, or parent, finds the meaning of what they have to say that important has deep meaning to children at surprisingly early ages. An excellent resource that shows examples of various teaching methods is www.earlychildhood.com, which sells materials for early childhood education programs, but also has a section with articles for parents and for early childhood professional development. This is a truly valuable resource.
For a moment I’ll touch on a lesson style, which does not contain actual plans per se, but is made up of structured guidance suggestions. These “plans” are written in article form and take a situation that arises in order to use it as a “teachable moment”. This is where Reggio Emilia or “Project Approach” techniques can be utilized. I understand that very few schools or home schooling situations will be considered to be Reggio in basic philosophy and practice, but any school setting can benefit from the implementation of any of the simple Reggio techniques. Children can have a much more interactive experience with this approach and I will address it later this week in a separate article. For now, however, please visit the following links for more information on Reggio Emilia. Reggio Emilia Page on Wikipedia Italian Reggio Emilia site (also in English) North American Reggio Emilia Alliance Homepage