Are board certified early educators better teachers? They say they are! But let's look at the qualities necessary to be a good preschool teacher.
There are a variety of issues to consider when examining the skills of preschool teachers - from educational credentials to the relationship the teacher has with kids, parents and other teachers. Experts recommend that parents should look for preschool teachers with the following qualities:
•Educational credentials. Unlike teachers in kindergarten and beyond, it is more common to find preschool teachers without degrees. While many fabulous preschool teachers don't have degrees, child experts say finding a teacher with a degree in the field is a decided advantage. The degree indicates someone with expertise, as well as an interest in the field since college.
•Experience. A number of years as a preschool teacher, particularly if that experience is only at a couple of preschool programs, tells a parent a lot of about a teacher. First, it indicates that teaching is not just a way to earn some money, but a career. Second, a teacher with a number of years at a preschool is someone able to work with parents, teachers and administrators - as well as the kids - and do so well enough to be welcomed back again and again. That doesn't mean a teacher fresh out college can't be an excellent preschool teacher, only that he or she remains an unproven commodity.
•Good relationship with kids. How the teacher works in the classroom and relates to others is very important and can only be determined by observing the teacher in action. All preschools should allow parents to spend a few hours in a preschool class. It's a good idea to show up unannounced and pay particular attention to how the teacher and the kids interact. It won't take long to determine whether the kids respect and love the teacher, which obviously is a very good sign.
•Comfortable with adults. As good as the teacher may be with the kids, it's also important that he or she relates well to the other teachers, as well as parents. For example, a teacher who feels uncomfortable and can't communicate well during a parent-teacher conference probably is someone to be avoided even if that teacher has a good rapport with the kids.
•Loving, but in charge. How does the teacher handle moments where discipline is required? When things aren't going according to plan, how does the teacher react? Experts say a good preschool teacher takes unexpected difficulties in stride and disciplines kids when necessary, but is never mean or ugly with the children.
•Enjoys teaching. Another simple but important quality is a preschool teacher who obviously enjoys what he or she does. That should be obvious after watching the teacher for a couple of hours.
The article below gives more information about the skills of board certified teachers.
There's lots of current research about how to best teach young English Language Learners. I'm most taken with the recommendation to support their language learning in the home language. In today’s preschool programs, teachers are working with an increasingly diverse population of young students, including many who come from homes where English is not spoken at all. Teachers in preschool programs all over the country may have English Language Learners in their classrooms. The article below describes the results of a recent study on this topic.
How do you address the needs of English Language Learners in your classroom? Let's talk!
Research gives credence to playing with blocks as linked to an academic skill development. Spatial skills, the ability to envision what something will look like once it is arranged, are enhanced through block play. This is what artists, engineers, and architects do--see something in their mind and then reproduce it. Higher math achievement has its roots in the informal play of young children, and as children play with blocks they experience and learn many math skills, such as classification, measurement, order, patterning, counting, symmetry, balance, problem solving and planning.
Current research shows that young children’s strong math skills can predict later success in school. In addition to math skills, block play offers other learning opportunities. Through their play, children are developing language and literacy skills in addition to math skills. As children build, balance, correct, enlarge and refine their structures, they develop motor skills, using small and large muscles, and eye-hand coordination.
The EdWeek article below looks at spatial skills in young children and the relationship to mathematics skills.
Traditionally, child-rearing has been the responsibility of mothers and, by extension, female caregivers. Our society has been mistakenly led to believe that mothers know best how to interact with children, but men/fathers do not. There isn’t very much data on informal babysitters, but it's likely that the overwhelming majority of them are female. Teach for America is trying to change this paradigm.
What do you think about men in early childhood settings? Let's talk!
Birth to age five is the most important learning time in a child's life. Ninety percent of a child's brain growth occurs during these five years. Children being "ready for school" when starting kindergarten really matters. Children who enter kindergarten "ready for school" are more likely to do well all the way through high school and beyond.
Both teachers and parents play a pivotal role in a child's readiness for school. Social emotional development is really an import key to school readiness. Social emotional development refers to the child's ability to get along with others; to handle emotions and strong feelings; to follow directions; and to stay involved with a task.
Here are some ways that teachers and parents cann build social emotional skills in young children.
Praise positive behavior--Praise leads to healthy self-esteem and understanding how to behave. When children behave--use words of praise and admiration. Be sure to tell children what they can do; not just what is done wrong or what they cannot do. Every time children are praised; they feel terrific about behaving in that way.
Keep rules simple and clear--Children are more confident about doing the right thing when they know the rules--simple and clear ones. Give young children three to five simple rules to follow: "Hold my hand when we walk on the parking lot." "Say please and thank you." "Let me answer the door if the doorbell rings."
Lead by example--Children watch adults closely and that is one way they learn how to behave. If you express anger or displeasure calmly, children learn to do the same. Positive role models in the early years provide guidance in kindergarten and throughout life.
Be sure to give choices--Let children make choices--which books to read, which snack to pick, etc. Children learn to follow guidance and to make decisions when given choices between things. Making these choices builds strong social emotional skills in young children.
What do you think about building social emotional skills in young children? How do you encourage parents to build these skills? Let's talk!