All parents want the best for their children. While this can mean anything from fancy clothes to specialized dining to exciting travel opportunities, one area that most parents can agree is critical to future success is that of learning and education. Parents will often go to any length to secure what they believe are the best educational opportunities.
Sometimes this intense focus on education can lead to activities and approaches that are not age-appropriate, such as rote memorization of letters and words or numbers and math facts at the preschool level. Children at different stages of their academic life require vastly different teaching and learning techniques to gain the most benefits. This consideration must begin as early as preschool. If the approach to learning is too rigorous and not appropriate to the child’s development, there can be long-term negative consequences.
Children may understand that high marks are the only sign of academic success. If they can’t answer enough questions correctly, then they have failed.
Children may believe that their parents will only support and care about them if they perform well enough in school by earning grades that are ‘high enough.’
Children may discount the value of other intelligences, such as artistic or musical talent.
One way to help alleviate this is to ensure an environment of experiential learning for preschool children in particular. This is a teaching and learning technique that enables children to be active participants in the planning and direction of their own learning. They help contribute to the ‘curriculum’ by expressing their interests in various ways, allowing their teacher to direct experiences to help students learn more.
For example, at GIIS, the Indian nursery in Abu Dhabi provides such an experience to young learners, providing several benefits that will only expand in the years to come.
Learning Life Skills
Nobody would dispute that the ability to read and perform basic mathematical calculations is essential to a successful life. But what about other less-frequently considered skills? What about something that may seem simple and basic, such as preparing a snack? While this may seem ‘too basic’ for a school activity at first glance, a closer look may reveal many sub-tasks critical to helping students learn more about how to navigate the world around them.
Getting the plate or utensils – Can involve conversations about similarities between items, the functionality of different utensils, choosing the right item for the task at hand
Getting food from the cabinet or refrigerator – Can involve discussions about where food comes from, the growth process, the process of getting food from farms to the table, or even further exploration involving growing plants themselves to eat once grown
Preparing the food – Can include food safety and utensil safety, discussion of consequences of unsafe behaviors, or discussion of food arrangement on the plate in a fun or artistic manner
Eating the food – Can involve discussions about proper table behavior, including how other cultures or world locations may serve or eat food differently
Cleaning up after – Can include discussions about food waste and disposal, or the importance of keeping items clean for reuse another time
A simple snack can turn into a multi-week investigation into numerous topics that could be intriguing to young minds, encouraging them to focus on learning in an area of their drive and interest.
It’s far too easy for students who may not excel at memorization to believe that they will never succeed in school. This belief can permeate every educational experience going forward. Working in a safe environment, students can try different options—and while some will inevitably fail, others will succeed, bringing a sense of confidence and pride that will last until the next challenge comes.
By integrating more experiential learning at a young age, preschool children can begin to build educational confidence.
Build Problem-Solving Skills
Children who begin learning with a ‘right or wrong’ approach can suffer from an inability to think more about the process than about the result. This can be especially perilous to preschool children when synapses are still forming, and children are still just trying to make sense of the world around them. Everything is still a source of wonder and questions, and it is in their educational interest to harness that instinct and put it to work.
Instead of telling students how something must be done, experiential learning allows for exploring ideas and possibilities. With reduced pressure on finding ‘the right answer,’ learners are allowed to attempt to solve problems in unique ways. Problems will only increase in difficulty as students get older, but with strong problem-solving skills in their arsenal, giving up will be an option they will rarely choose.
With a preschool curriculum based strongly on experiential learning, your young child will gain important skills that will help throughout their schooling career and beyond.