What do Preschools Teach?
In spite of the excellent educational record of good preschools, there are still people think that “the children only play and don’t really LEARN anything”. We list here a few of the informational items and attitudes taught in preschools.
A. QUANTITATIVE CONCEPTS:
- The teacher carefully guides the children into systematic number thinking: through counting blocks or each other, through taking turns, etc., they gain understanding of cardinal and ordinal meanings as well as the serial order of numbers.
- Children learn to understand more, less, bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, heavier, and lighter through practical situations. They measure one thing against another, e.g. “two of these blocks make one of those.”
- They learn before, after, soon, now, morning, afternoon, yesterday. The names of the months become familiar and they come to think of the year as a succession of four seasons and a recurrence of familiar holidays.
B. LANGUAGE TRAINING:
- Children are encouraged to talk with the teacher and with each other, learning new words and skill in communication. Vocabulary is also built through carefully planned new experiences associated with the appropriate words, group discussions, language games, and the telling and reading of many stories and poems.
- An interest in and desire for reading is cultivated. They are taught the proper care of books.
C. SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION AND HABITS:
- Children learn much about the physical properties of things about them and of their own bodies, and “how things work”. They learn what makes a structure stable, how to steer wheeled vehicles, how a lever (see-saw) operates, how to use a pulley, magnet, or magnifying glass.
- They learn about the needs, habits and life cycle of various plants and pets and about wind, weather, heat and other natural forces.
- Above all they learn reasonableness, accurate observation, the exercise of judgment, to seek answers, and to carry through simple experiments.
D. OTHER LEARNINGS:
- Music: Children learn to enjoy listening to music, singing songs, playing simple instruments, creating music through rhythmic responses.
- Art: They learn to handle various art materials creatively and expressively.
- Sensory Training: Through guided observation they learn to notice differences and similarities in color, shape, pitch, etc. Visual acuity and eye-hand coordination are taught through puzzles and games, through study of pictures, etc. Auditory training comes through music, language and other activities.
- Memory is cultivated through discussions of past events and through learning games, poems, songs, etc.
- Social Attitudes: They learn favorable attitudes toward one another, towards teachers, and toward learning; ability to function in a group, to listen to others, to await one’s turn to cooperate, to assume responsibility, to concentrate on a task, and to follow direction.