I’ve been reading some posts about expectations for Early Years and I can clearly say that those “expectations” are happening everywhere. Even I experience it in my daily encounter with parents and even with other coworkers. I find it always hard to explain why they should change their mindset about this stage of learning, that Early Years is a whole different world compared to Primary and higher classes.
I have one coworker before who was a middle school teacher. She made a comment about how our class should be more active and productive – meaning, we should focus on giving activities that will make them “smarter.” How? Like focusing on learning the alphabets, numbers improving their physical skills and so on. It was fascinating and annoying at the same time for me because there was never a time where she joined our class to actually observe what is happening or even asked us “how we do it in class” to fully understand the learning process. But anyway, some people are just like that.
First of all, I do understand that this is not an easy thing to do – to adjust our mindset when it comes to child development in different levels. Often times, it is being overlooked because they think we all function the same way. So why should learning be different for this age? They need to read and write because that’s the requirement everywhere. I agree yes, but we seem to always forget that there is a process for that to happen and being able to read and write is not the basis of how smart you are as a person.
In Early Years, although we do introduce those skills to them we also teach other things – things that are way more important than reading, writing and learning how to cut. Can you guess? I highly doubt you can so let me tell you: we help children develop their social skills and manage their emotions. You might think that’s not important but it actually is. In fact, that’s a must. And if you observe the people around you based on how they interact or respond, you can see how well they have developed/need to develop their social skills.
We focus more on making them humane rather than human. We teach them as much as possible the value of being grateful, respectful, understanding, kind, compassionate and so much more that has nothing to do with writing or reading. Isn’t that more important at the end of the day? EQ over IQ? Or am I completely wrong and I should focus more on developing the intelligence part?
Yes we also introduce academic stuff in class. Of course we do because we want them to be able to catch up once they move to another level. But we also take into consideration the process of learning. It is not enough that you have the plan. The important part of every plan is the content on how you can make the plan happen and reach the goal and many possible ways. You cannot ask the child to cut if their hands are not strong enough. Cutting is not the only practice to strengthen the fine motor – there are sooo many activities. Working with children often requires specific objective and careful planning in order for you to develop skills. It doesn’t need to be fancy and stressful – especially the stressful part! Please give them variety and different levels of challenges in an interesting way so they will love learning.
Early Years is not about cutting, reading like an adult, performing math skills flawlessly – Early Years is about learning and understanding the world around them so they can cope up with changes and challenges that happens in daily life. Once they get the grip of that, they will figure out how to make themselves “smart.”