A child-centered, developmentally appropriate classroom plan for early childhood learners of the ages 3-5 (pre-school) enhances faster learning of essential skills.
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This paper will look at the child-centered developmentally appropriate classroom plan for early childhood learners of ages 3-5 (pre-school). It is important to note that pre-school is a crucial stage as it serves as the foundation of development. The paper will be organized into several parts for a clear and exhaustive overview. It will address the standards expected for early childhood learners’ plan, the theory applicable, the various developmental attributes of a pre-school child, appropriate activities, and the assessment and finally, it will give an overview of the curriculum before giving the conclusion.
Early childhood learning is a sensitive segment in learning and requires an appropriate plan. At this stage, learners explore, create and imagine as they develop academically, emotionally, socially and even physically. This also calls for an enabling environment that will expose the learners to a variety of curriculum activities and experiences. Since a learner is supposed to have this whole package, there is a need for a plan that comprehensively covers everything (Brassard & Boehm 2007, p.89).
Education should help people acquire skills and knowledge for them to be productive in a future life, learning for the pre-school child should be a great concern as it is expected that the children start off well as they advance in age. It forms the foundation for future learning processes and should therefore be well planned in order to impart the child with basic learning experiences.
Standards in Early Childhood
The issue of early childhood care has moved many countries into adopting certain guidelines for early childhood care and their initial education. For some, the right to education, which includes early childhood education, has been extended to include the right to development. This involves empowering the parents and any other caregivers with the knowledge and skills that will help in the developmental and educational needs of the children. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is an organization that focuses on improving the well-being of young children both in terms of developmental and educational spheres (Bloom, 1964, p.86).
To meet the standards of early childhood education there are several issues that ought to be considered. These include goals of early childhood, appropriate philosophy and the expectation of the early childhood professional.
Regulation and professionalization have been the hallmarks of early childhood. In this regard, there have to be usual measures to check professionalism for instance those intended for checking the quality of content and the appropriateness of that content application. The professionals should have the qualification to train the pre- scholars. An appropriate child-centered and developmentally appropriate classroom plan should be regulated by the authority.
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This means that overall goals and guidelines that affect pre-school are implemented. This can also be done through the provision of a detailed curriculum. It could be in such a way that the requirement that child-centered development is adhered to. If this is not done the education the preschooler goes through will be beneficial to the society from which the experiences are drawn. This means that it is the day-to-day experiences from which the pre-scholar mostly learns. This is why a whole lot of real-life experiences are to be incorporated into the curriculum for the pre-school system.
Thus the philosophy of education to be developed should put into consideration various factors. First of all, it should consider the societal expectation and that of the child. The issue of values falls here. For instance, there could be certain activities that may encourage sharing for example through puppet games/ such activities may also cater for well- being and environment of the child.
Early childhood Development theory and Educational philosophy
Early childhood education is philosophy is majorly child-centered. The expectation of the child should be respected. By this, there is a need for the plan to ensure that there is an enabling environment.
Children (pre-scholar) learn holistically than any other age group. These according to findings from NAEYC should be known that they learn social, emotional, cognitive, language and even physical lessons as a whole and not one by one (Morrison, 2009, p.98). It is thus important for the teacher to note that this learning from a whole experience is what the child prefers and therefore the importance of exposing the children to activities that can fulfill that.
The belief of the educator, caregiver or parent greatly influence early childhood approaches. Parents play a crucial role in a childhood education as the children still learn at home. It is, therefore, crucial for them to be enlightened on the peculiar learning traits of early childhood. Play is what has caused a lot of controversies (Morrison, 2009, p.84). Some parents may not advocate for play as a way through which children can learn. They would rather in fact in some cases demand academic content (Vail, 2003, p.45). There is thus great fear that the parents can put pressure on good childhood programs until the programs become ineffective.
One, therefore, learns that involving and enlightening parents is something to be considered for any success of early childhood programs. But this approach play alone for early childhood education has had its critics. Many have felt that it lacks scientific evidence. Some of the greatest critics have argued that quality pre-school education requires both hands-on, play-based learning and direct instruction of academic skills simultaneously. From the above argument, one presupposes that the best plan would be that which takes the integrated approach as promulgated by the critics.
Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist and philosopher, has propounded much on the theory of cognitive development which can be of great relevance to early childhood education as he placed great emphasis on the education of children. In a nutshell, Piaget’s theoretical approach can be said to be consisting of various areas of development. These areas take three major forms of growth and development; the biological form measured in terms of physical increase and the social form which is indicated by acquisition and application of societal values and ethics (Bloom, 1964, p.124). The third form is the development of the rational aspects which is exhibited by the mental development.
In the sociological model, Piaget felt that children moved from a position of egocentrism to socio-centralism. He meant that actually moving from the individual self to the society. From the questions, he found that children responded to questions from a socially acceptable point of view. What early childhood education can get from this is that a good plan should be that which also exposes the child to societal experiences.
The other stage that Piaget investigated which can be of great relevance to early childhood education was that of the logical model of intellectual development. In it, he suggested that intelligence develops in stages. That is, a stage for a certain age should be accomplished first before the next. The relevance of this to early childhood education is that it tends to support the line of play alone as a way through which pre-school children should be exposed to learning. This means at that particular age, it is only through play they will learn. What one may ask is that is play alone the only way a child should learn?
A good plan should provide information on the appropriate activities for early childhood learning. Different activities, it has been found out, teach different things to the child. Since most pre-school children learn from activities and other older children, there is a great need to expose them to activities that are tailor-made to their learning methods. These activities should also be arranged in such a way that they offer the children opportunity for growth in all developmental areas.
Activities therefore should cater to various areas of development. These include physical and motor development, social-emotional development, cognitive development, language development.
In physical and motor development the children may jump, roll, dance or even just run as a classroom activity. Through these activities, the children may lose fat and therefore be more agile to participate in other. The fine motor activities such as drawing, painting, etc are also plans that provide action and play, as that stage demands. Therefore the plan should involve the provision of materials that will enable the child to play.
Social-emotional development activities aim at developing a positive socio-emotional development through the given activities. For instance, the pre-scholars may be exposed to pictures of influential religious icons or even leaders.
Cognitive development is a stage that has to do with major intelligence. It is said that the children grow in their ability to use symbols and also show the ability to concentrate or one idea at a time (Bloom, 1964, p113). In such a case it is important for the teacher to employ various methods for the students to conceptualize ideas. Hands-on activities can be of great help as they assist the child to learn how to socialize from their interaction with one another.
Though there is a need to allow the children a lot of uninterrupted time to engage in their own activities, there is a need for the teacher or caregiver to control so that only desirable activity learning experiences are permitted. Learning from models is another activity from which children may learn. This could involve letting the children learn from their older peers freely but thus, as earlier observed, and should be controlled.
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Language development is another part of the plan that should be locked into as it serves as a means through which the children will interact with each other. It has been suggested that a good plan should incorporate the greater use of visual and sound stimuli to achieve this. The learners will also learn how to react to thoughts and feelings. This can only be possible through the acquisition of more vocabulary as sentences the children use become longer and more complex and even longer, now for proper language development the plan should have activities that enhance language acquisition (Brassard & Boehm, 2007, p.44)..
These could be simple reading activities with the children. The children should be encouraged to learn new words gradually. This is an area that will actually need guidance from the teachers or caregivers though it should be noted that children learn also from caregivers.
Language is largely acquired through intuition it is advisable however to develop an appropriate training program to give the children a clear direction in the acquisition of language skills. This, therefore, calls for the plan to include some special consideration for the diverse levels of language acquisition abilities of the learners. For instance, children with disabilities or those who experience delays in language acquisition should be considered for special attention so that they may match the pace of the rest (Barnett 2004, p 18). It is necessary that teachers categorize their learners basing on learning abilities.
Fast learners should be given more challenging assignments, whereas the special needs cases should be given a simpler activity. This would be done through groups. The teacher should also make sure that in cases where there is positing of language items on the class walls, there should be varying levels of complexity to cater to the different levels of learning. Other activities that may involve the students’ skills could be incorporated. This means that even parents and other caregivers need to be incorporated into this plan.
Implementation of Formal and Informal Assessment in a classroom
Early childhood learning is a whole package of experience both inside and outside the classroom. There is a great challenge for the assessment of this cadre as one may discover a big challenge. Take for instance formal assessment. In most cases, one will find that this type of assessment may exclude what cannot be measured tangibly for instance the acquisition of values. It is therefore important for a plan to be in place that distinguishes formal from informal assessment systems in the school (Brassard & Boehm, 2007, p. 34). This is also why the assessment must be gradual and done by someone who knows the various stages of child development, children’s environment, which may be quite diverse and many more factors.
A formal assessment could involve some class tests but now what of the assessment of the children with special needs. It becomes a great challenge as to whether they should be assessed differently from others. Informal assessment could be the best but this also poses the challenge of subjectivity. To avoid this there should a provision where no one assessor assesses a child. There should be room for external assessors who may have a different view. This can well guide the institutions, judgment of a student’s ability. There could also be cases where the difference is in age. In this case, one would arrange for age-specific classes. This is particularly important in daycare centers and can go a long way in making sure that assessment is objective.
Early children’s education poses a great challenge to many curriculum developers as it is a stage in human life. Many policies are therefore developed to make sure that the child gets the best out of education at that stage while not interfering in the child’s free choice. There are various issues that have raised concern among policymakers that include direct instruction, play and even the mode of assessment. That is why there is a need to come up with a classroom plan that will be all-inclusive while at some time letting the child gain maximally from the education system. This paper has attempted to suggest what an appropriate plan may entail.
Barnett, W. S. (2004). Does Head start have lasting cognitive Effects? In E. Zigler & Styfco (Eds.). The Head start Debates (p. 221-249). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Bloom, B. S. (1964). Stability and Change in Human Characteristics. New York: Wiley Johnson and Sons.
Brassard, R. M., & Boehm, E. A. (2007). Preschool Assessment: Principles and Practices. New York: The Guilford Press.
Morrison, G. S. (2009). Early childhood Education. Today (11th Edition)). Upper Saddle River. New Jersey: Pearson Educational.