Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Those first two years of school...

The first two years of school are absolutely critical to children's success. It is where they learn whether or not they like school, whether or not they are "smart" in school and whether or not they will find success within the school walls. Remember what I have mentioned before about children walking. Some walk as early as 7 or 8 months, and some not until a full year has passed. And yet we know that exactly when they walk is no exact determinant for future success. Parents are told not to worry. But as children grow, the window as to when each developmental marker takes place widens, not narrows, and so when children reach school age it is unreasonable to expect children to be reading ready at exactly the same time. In the US, students are pushed to begin reading in school at age 5, and in Finland, age 7, so by the time children are tested in the International PISA test they far surpass American students in 25% less time.

If that's the case, what are children to do in school, particularly in those important first years? The following is from Comenius (1592-1670), first great proponent of education:
"Boys ever delight in being occupied in something for the youthful blood does not allow them to be at rest. Now as this is very useful, it ought not to be restrained, but provision made that they may always have something to do. Let them be like ants, continually occupied in doing something, carrying, drawing, construction and transporting, provided always that whatever they do be done prudently. They ought to be assisted by showing them the forms of all things, even of playthings; for they cannot yet be occupied in real work, and we should play with them."
In other words, children's activities, their hands-on explorations, are a useful resources that educators should use, not waste, for in wasting their most natural inclinations, we damage them in ways only succeeding and preceding generations may understand. The impact of too-soon-forced academics has greater effect on boys and even greater effect on those boys from poor communities where parents have less time to reinforce important developmental values.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, first, 2nd and 3rd grade students continued making friendship boxes.

Make, fix and create...

3 comments:

Mark said...

I wonder what happen to having music, recess, or art in our schools? It seems that schools are moving away from the arts. Isn't the length of the school day remaining the same?

Phillip said...

As a teacher I really find your posts interesting and informative. Keep it up, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of whether students are considered "smart," there was research done years back that showed that kids who were considered "cute" were also seen as smart. Too bad for the homely ones.

Mario