The longer I am involved in preschool and elementary education, the more I am convinced that our efforts with young students are among the most important and long-lasting. Recently a colleague sent me a link to a New York Times article that bolsters my own philosophy: that investing time, focus, and money in our children’s earliest years of schooling is crucial to their continued academic and life-long success.
In their first years of school, children establish their self-identity as learners. Based on their experiences with challenging situations and new information, as well as the feedback they receive from adults and their peers, they decide—in the most basic sense—whether they are “good students” …or not.
If a student decides, because the school-work is confusing, boring, not connected to his experience of the world, etc., that he is a bad student, or that school is not relevant to him, then this concept of self and school will be difficult to change later in life, no matter how good his middle or high school may be. If, on the other hand, a young student is convinced that he is capable, shown that he is valued, and invited to engage in meaningful work every day at school, he will carry this concept of self and school with him into each new environment. Students who are ready and excited to engage in the activities of school can jump right into those pursuits, without first having to wrestle with the decision of whether school is important to them or not.
|Preschoolers participating in a balls and ramps science unit|