There have been many theories that have played a part in the foundation of early childhood education. It has been these theories that have changed the way teachers educate their students. Creating an environment that contributes to learning is key to the student’s success. I feel it is the social communication between students, their peers and the teacher that determines a successful school experience. I feel that effective communication is a fundamental component to my educational philosophy. As a result, I feel that Vygotsky’s Socioculture Theory most closely represents my own philosophy.
Vygotsky felt that “children learn social interaction. They acquire cognitive skills as part of their induction into a way of life. Shared activities help children internalize their society’s modes of thinking and behaving and those folkways their own” (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 2008). My education philosophy is to produce the best most achievable learning experience for all students in my classroom. Lev Semenovich Vygotsky developed Vygotsky’s Socioculture Theory.
In this approach to teaching Vygotsky believed that “children’s mental, language, and social development is supported by and enhanced through social interaction (Morrison, 2009).
According to Vygotsky the development a child has is concentrated on the communication they have with people around them in a social environment. One of the most important aspects of Vygotsky’s Theory is the zone of proximal development (ZPD). The ZPD is the area of development that is too difficult for the student to achieve by themselves. It is necessary to recruit assistance from another person. The help can come from a teacher, another adult, or even a classmate (Morrison, 2009). Vgotsky’s Sociocultural Theory gives students the opportunity to develop their strengths socially while facilitating cognitive growth and development.
I plan to incorporate many of Vgotsky’s theories in my preschool classroom, such as; scaffolding and the zone of proximal development. Using scaffolding, teachers can help students continue to achieve in the areas of development that are too difficult for them to accomplish alone. When a preschooler is able to master a task, the scaffolding can be faded out. In my preschool classroom I want students to build on their own strengths so they can become more independent learners, both academically and socially. Physical and Motor Development involve active learning and how a child uses his or her body.
Locomotion is the part of motor development that involves children learning to run, jump, hop and dance. Preschool children like to take part in fine-motor activities as well, such as coloring, drawing, and painting. Teacher’s that incorporate both physical and fine motor activities in their daily lessons will encourage physical and motor development for each child. o Activity – Body Parts • Children are encouraged to move different body parts to music. As the teacher calls out a body part each child must wiggle and dance around emphasizing that particular part of the body.
The teacher can also change this activity to encourage students to move to the meaning of words. For example, stretch your arms up high, bend down and touch your toes, crawl like a baby or jump like a kangaroo, the possibilities are endless. o Activity – Sticker Fun • Children love stickers, for this activity give each student a variety of stickers that are a variety of colors and sheets of paper that are the primary colors. Instruct students to peel off the sticker and place the sticker on the matching sheet of paper. • Children can also work at the Art table.
The table would be supplied with crayons, glue, scissors, markers and paper. In Cognitive Development most preschool children are in the preoperational stage of intelligence. Their ability to use symbols and their language skills are developing and improving. Preparing hands on activities are fantastic to assist the preschool child in the area of cognitive development. o Activity- Sink or Float • The teacher would need to gather several items like ping pong balls, straws, small beach ball, rocks, paper clips and toy cars and fill the sensory table with water.
The teacher would hold up several items and ask the students what they are and whether they think the item would sink or float. The teacher would call on students to drop items into the water, the class would see if the item sinks or floats. After the experiment ends the students could graph what items floated and what items sunk to the bottom. o Activity- Swamp Sort • The teacher would need a small supply of small and large plastic alligators, as well as two bins one for the large alligators and one for the small ones. She would also need the sensory table filled with water and sand.
The teacher would explain to the class that they were going on an adventure to find alligators. Some of the alligators would be small (she would hold one up) and some alligators would be large (again she would show the class). The class would take turns using a net to scoop out alligators and then they would have to sort them into the assigned bins. Social-Emotional development is a very important part in the development of a preschool child. The social and emotional part of development in a preschool program prepares students for success throughout their time in school, as well as, the rest of their life.
Social-Emotional development can be encouraged in the classroom through social interaction, exploration and experiments. o Activity-Smelling Jars • Have children play a sorting game. Before class the teacher would fill empty jars with several items that have strong aromas. For example, the teacher could fill the jars with items like fruity smell-orange, floral-rose petals, and spices-cinnamon and/or garlic. The students would be blindfolded as they try to identify the smells. After the children have examined all the aromas they would have to sort and graph the smells into two categories the ones they liked and the ones they did not like.
o Activity-We Are Thinking • The teacher explains to the class that they are going to play a game that requires them listen, look and think. The teacher goes on to explain that in this game she will think of different classmates and give clues to reveal their identity. For example, she could say I am thinking of a friend who has blond hair and is wearing a red shirt. The students will have to look, listen and think to identify their friends. “Language skills grow and develop rapidly during the preschool years” (Morrison, 2009).
Reading to and with other children is a great way to encourage language development. Children begin to learn and have the capacity to become beginning readers as their language skills improve. o Story Time • Including story time in the preschool classroom is a wonderful way to encourage language skills. Imagination can make the typical story time new and different. The teacher chooses an appropriate book and then reads it to the class. She pauses throughout the book allowing the children to tell her what they think would happen next.
After the story is over the children can role play and dress up and act out the story. o Sight Word Treasure Hunt • Preschool children can use sight words to increase their vocabulary and build emerging skills for reading. The teacher tells her students they are going to play a game today and that at the end of the game they are going to find a treasure. Before the game the teacher would have to hide a small “treasure” box filled with whatever she chooses (enough for each student to have one). The teacher would also have to place cards with different words around the room.
The teacher would explain to the children that they would take turns reading each site word and then finding it in the classroom. On the back of each card would be the next sight word to find. The students would choose a student to go next until all students had a turn the last student would find the treasure that they would share with the class. The student would be encouraged to ask other students for help if needed. This game could be easily adapted to be more of a competition the teacher could form teams and declare a winner, although, all children would still receive a “treasure”.
The first formal assessment I would be sure to include in my preschool classroom would the High/Scope educational approach. The “High/Scope approach provides broad, realistic educational geared to children’s current stages of development. To promote the constructive processes of learning necessary to broaden emerging intellectual and social skills” (Morrison, 2009). The High/Scope Observation assesses six broad categories; initiative, social relations, creative relations, creative representation, music and movement, language and literacy, and mathematics and science (Morrison, 2009).
The High/Scope can help preschool teachers create an environment that is conductive to learning by supporting the five essential elements; classroom arrangement, active learning, the daily schedule, assessments and curriculum. The second formal assessment that I would incorporate into my classroom would be Brigance K&1 Screen II. This assessment only requires ten to fifteen minutes per child and is used on children entering kindergarten and first grade (Morrison, 2009). Children who were getting ready to leave preschool would benefit from this assessment as it would measure the child’s skill level.
I could then pass this information on to the next teacher along with my own personal observations. My favorite type of informal observation is the portfolio. This form of assessment allows the teacher to collect samples of the student’s work over a period of time and then determine the child’s strengths and weaknesses. Teachers are able to track a child’s development for a specific period of time that they determine. The child’s progress can be tracked weekly, monthly, or through quarterly assessments. The second kind of informal observation that I will be sure to include would be the Interview.
This allows children to explain different behaviors, papers they have worked on and individual answers that the student may have given to questions. Engaging children in discussion can only benefit all involved teachers and peers alike. It is important to keep the lines of communication open between teachers, students and their parents. Students need to feel that they can speak up and ask questions about anything that will help them be successful students. The curriculum in my preschool classroom would include literacy.
Time each day would be set aside for Alphabet knowledge, this would let students know that letters have names and shapes and that letters represent sounds in our language (Morrison, 2009). Phonics would also be used on a daily basis. Time be would assigned for reading decodable books. Children would learn to read using their phonic knowledge along with content clues such as pictures. Mathematical curriculums are an important part in the preschool classroom as well. Math plays a very prominent role in the preschool classroom today (Morrison, 2009).
Children in my preschool classroom will engage in many different activities. For example; sorting, counting, experiments and observations. Mathematics can also be incorporated into the time spent in the computer lab by playing math games. Preschool children are hands on learners so the use of manipulatives would be encouraged. The best classroom environment would persuade children to “engage in personal, meaningful educational experiences. In addition, the classroom contains three or more interest areas that encourage choice” (Morrison, 2009).
• The classroom should be organized so all children can find the supplies needed to be successful. This will also promote independence. • The classroom floor plan should support classroom programs as well as help to implement programs. For example the Art Center should have the necessary supplies stored near the art table. The reading center should have a supply of books and chairs placed there. • The ideal environment would also include an area for small and large group (circle time) instruction. • An adequate space for storage would be needed.
The items would have to be labeled in such a way that the children would know where to return them to keep the classroom neat and orderly. • The ideal environment would include a classroom where children feel safe and protected. School should be a place where children are free to learn without fear of being bullying. There are many different preschool programs available today. They all offer programs that use philosophies, theories and concepts to try to meet the needs of preschool aged children. There are many things that promote relevant learning but one of the most important in my opinion is social interaction.
It is because of that belief I feel that Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory and the High/Scopes Approach to learning is the most effective method for learning in the preschool classroom. The most important thing is to make the classroom a place where each child is given the opportunity to learn in a fun and effective manner, always putting our students first.
Morrison, G. (2009). Early childhood education today. (11th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. Papalia, D. , Wendkos Olds, S. , & Duskin Feldman, R. (2008). A child’s world: infancy through adolescence. (11th ed. ) Boston: McGraw-Hill.