Approaches to Learning - Early-In Special Education Preschool

Approaches to Learning - Early-In Special Education Preschool
Approaches to Learning
Pondering, Processing, and Applying Experiences
Strategies for Early Educators
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Allow ample amounts of time for activities involving individual choice and shorter
periods for large-group activities.
Provide time for sharing experiences that involve more than one child or adult.
Give children time to plan what they are going to do that day and provide time later
for them to think and talk about what they did.
Provide children with the means to represent their ideas in more than one medium
(e.g., painting, drawing, blocks).
Furnish materials that will facilitate the re-creation of memories or experiences
that a child can share.
Supply materials that encourage a spirit of inquiry.
Encourage children to ask questions of one another and share/compare ideas.
Listen and respond to exchanges of children’s words and thoughts (e.g., open up a
discussion of what happened in a class meeting).
Set an example by thinking out loud.
Discuss the sequencing and timing of experiences.
Promote decision making.
Strategies for Families
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Create time at home every day to talk with your children. Use meal times to talk
about your day and ask about theirs. Talk about what you did yesterday and what
you will do tomorrow.
Pay attention as your child talks about her experiences and ask follow-up questions
that will encourage her to think and reflect, such as “How did you feel about that?”
or “Why do you think that happened?” or “What else might happen?”
Talk about the books, videos, and television programs your family enjoys.
Provide time for unscheduled activities that allow your child to explore the world
on his own and to generate ideas.
Curiosity, Information seeking, and Eagerness
Strategies for Early Educators
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Offer choices.
Make materials available that can be used or combined in a variety of ways.
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Provide items for use in dramatic play that authentically reflect life (e.g., a real
firefighter’s hat, a real doctor’s stethoscope, or an authentic kimono).
Stock the classroom with materials that appeal to both genders and a full range of
learning characteristics, cultures, and ability levels of children. Schedule large
uninterrupted blocks of time every day for children to use these materials.
Listen to children and build on their individual ideas and concepts.
Set an example by sharing children’s excitement in discovery and exploration on
their level (e.g., digging through snow in winter to see if the grass is still there;
looking for flower buds in spring and yellowing leaves in fall).
Use open-ended and leading questions to explore different interests or to elicit
suggestions (e.g., “How can you make the car go faster?” or “How does the water
make the wheel turn at the water table?”).
Strategies for Families
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Allow your child to play with pots and pans, cups, mixing spoons, and plastic
containers.
Provide supervised experiences with everyday items that can be manipulated (such
as nuts and bolts) or taken apart (such as an old electric mixer with the cord
removed).
Let children help with household chores such as cooking, folding laundry, and
washing dishes and talk about what you are doing.
Plan family outings to interesting places, such as parks, museums, national
monuments, and science centers.
Include your child in daily errands, such as trips to the grocery store, bank, or post
office.
Spend time outside exploring nature.
Make time to join your child in playful activities.
Share your cultural traditions.
Ask questions and encourage children to do likewise.
Risk Taking, Problem Solving, and Flexibility
Strategies for Early Educators
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Set up clearly defined interest areas where children can work with a variety of
interesting building materials and other items, focus on what they are doing, and
have their work protected from accidental destruction by others.
Furnish an abundant supply of thought-provoking, complex materials that can be
used in more than one way (e.g., blocks or clay) and are not limited to a single
“right” answer.
Provide challenging, high-quality tools and equipment.
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Establish a predictable, yet flexible, routine.
Show genuine care, affection, and kindness toward children (e.g., validate their
disappointment when a block structure falls down; encourage them to figure out
what happened and rebuild).
Recognize that “mistakes” are inevitable and treat them as opportunities to learn.
Set an example by acknowledging one’s own “mistakes” and modeling constructive
reactions to them.
Help children think and talk through different approaches to problems (e.g., when
their favorite game isn’t available, encourage them to consider another choice).
Encourage children to share, listen, and ask questions of one another and compare
strategies and solutions.
Promote collaboration to achieve common goals.
Model flexibility.
Strategies for Families
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Recognize “mistakes” as opportunities to learn. (For example: If a teddy bear is
left out in the rain, ask “How can we fix it?” or “What can we do so this won’t
happen again?” Express confidence that your child will make a better choice the
next time.)
Take your own mistakes in stride.
Let children know that their thinking is valued as much as – or even more than –
getting the “right” answer. Encourage them to share their thinking with you.
Persistence, Attentiveness, and Responsibility
Strategies for Early Educators
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Furnish the classroom with a variety of materials that allow children with diverse
interests and abilities to experience success.
Organize the space in a way that protects children who want to work meaningfully
for extended periods of time.
Provide resources that allow children to carry explorations to a deeper level of
meaning and understanding.
Be flexible in allowing children to use materials in a creative and integrated way.
Establish procedures, routines, and rules to instill responsibility.
Plan projects that are completed over the course of several days.
Structure the day so transitions and distractions are minimized.
Recognize and plan for children’s differences and their diverse ways of learning.
Watch for and acknowledge increasing complexity in a child’s play (e.g., “Your tower
of blocks became a fire station and now you’ve built a whole town”).
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Allow children to share ownership of the classroom by participating in discussions
related to classroom decisions and helping to establish rules and routines.
Offer assistance only after determining a child’s need and intent.
Ask probing questions when children reach a state of confusion, to bring them to a
greater understanding.
Celebrate perseverance as well as the completed project (e.g., make comments like
“You’re the kind of person who doesn’t give up”).
Provide real-life and purposeful experiences (e.g., “How many graham crackers will
we need for your table at snack time?”).
Show that you value children’s thinking processes by acknowledging their work and
effort (e.g., “Look how long and hard you worked on this”).
Encourage children to listen carefully to what others in the class are saying and
ask questions.
Strategies for Families
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Allow your child to play and learn skills at a pace that is comfortable and be
supportive of his efforts. Build enough time into the morning schedule to allow him
to dress himself, even though you could do it in less time.
Organize toys, books, and puzzles so children can access them and not be
distracted by clutter. Provide shelves, baskets, or other containers so they can
sort their toys and put their space in order.
Rotate toys so your child can make full use of them and not be overwhelmed.
Give your child chores and break them down into manageable steps. Work together
and offer choices. (For example, say, “Which would you like to do first – pick up
your blocks or pick up your clothes?”)
Involve children in planning family activities, such as vacations or trips to museums,
festivals, parks, and the library.
Imagination, Creativity, and Invention
Strategies for Early Educators
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Provide children with adequate time to fully explore materials.
Set up well-organized, clearly defined interest areas abundantly stocked with
thought-provoking materials.
Provide open-ended materials that can be used in more than one way and are not
limited to one “right” answer.
Illustrate and model how different kinds of media and materials can be used
together.
Provide materials reflective of diverse cultures, abilities, and family structures.
Introduce materials and explore a range of ways to use them.
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Invite children to think of other ways to use the materials.
Provide experiences in which the goal is to try many different approaches rather
than finding one “right” solution.
Foster cooperative learning groups.
Promote the integrated use of materials throughout activities and centers (e.g.,
say “Let’s get some paper from the writing center to make signs for the city you
made in the block center”).
Challenge children to consider alternative ideas and endings of stories.
Strategies for Families
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Enjoy reading a variety of books with your child.
Allow children to solve problems in their own way.
Show appreciation and enthusiasm for children’s efforts. Ask them to talk about
what they did and what happened.
Encourage pretend play. Put a blanket over the dining room table to make a “cave.”
Engage children in making up games, jokes, songs, and stories.
Aesthetic Sensibility
Strategies for Early Educators
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Use soft surfaces, light colors, and comfortable furniture to create a warm,
inviting classroom atmosphere.
Provide materials children can manipulate, explore with their senses, and use in
different ways.
Display children’s artwork on a rotating basis, along with other items of beauty
(e.g., wall hangings, tapestry, weavings, posters, stained glass, or arrangements of
flowers and leaves).
Acquaint children with the many different kinds of music and musical instruments.
Provide occasions for children to move, dance, and pretend. Let them choose which
costumes, materials, and artifacts to use.
Invite professional artists, musicians, dancers, and craftspeople representing
different cultures and languages to visit the classroom.
Visit local museums, art exhibits, dance recitals, theater productions, poetry
readings, concerts, or other arts venues.
Borrow library prints of great artwork representing a variety of countries and
ethnic groups, hang them at the eye level of the children, and have conversations
about them.
Put illustrated coffee-table books in the classroom’s book area.
Set an example by demonstrating spontaneity, a sense of wonder, and excitement.
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Use reflective dialogue when talking with children about what they have
experienced.
Laugh with children and show that you enjoy sharing their sense of humor.
Provide opportunities for sharing authentic cultural traditions.
Invite parents to share their artistic and musical gifts with the class.
Strategies for Families
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Point out and share in your child’s wonder of nature, such as a cloud formation,
ripples in a pond, or dew on a flower.
Find time every day to have fun with your child.
Discuss what you are seeing and enjoying during walks and drives, such as a
beautiful building, flowers and trees in bloom, or sweet smells.
Provide opportunities for your child to experience a variety of authentic cultural
activities, such as attending an international festival.
Share jokes, funny anecdotes, and riddles.
Take your child to local museums, cultural exhibits, and musical events.
Tell your children stories about your own childhood.
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