Beyond ABC's: What every child should learn in Preschool
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"What do you teach in school?" parents often ask us. After explaining that toddlers start off with learning their ABC's and 123's, they are quick to say, "Oh my child knows that already. He can even name all the flags, the planets and the animals in the zoo!"
Yes, kids are sent to school to learn facts and gain knowledge of the world. But do parents realize that their children need to learn more than that? Learning how to read and count is just one aspect of the whole learning experience. Read on and find out what other basic skills children need to learn so they grow well-armed to face the challenges of life.
The word "cognition" is defined as "the act of knowing" or knowledge." Cognitive skills therefore refer to those skills that make it possible for us to know. When a child thinks, processes and analyzes, he is using his cognitive skills. Learning to read and count are examples of acquiring cognitive or academic skills. However, it should also be noted that this is not an automatic process. All cognitive skills must be taught and learned.
Language employs symbols - words, gestures or spoken sounds - to represent objects and ideas. Communication of language begins with spoken sounds combined with gestures. Children first learn to develop oral language (also known as receptive language) by listening to and understanding what they hear. It is then followed by expressive language wherein they now communicate using words, phrases and sentences.
The physical development of a child also involves developing his fine and gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the big muscle movements such as hopping, dancing and running. Fine motor skills involve movements of the small muscles like writing or coloring. Play aids in developing psychomotor skills. For example, an infant will first hit at a toy, then will try to grasp it, and eventually will be able to pick it up. Next, the infant will shake the rattle or perhaps bring it to the mouth. In these ways, the infant moves from simple to more complex gestures.
It is important for children to learn to care for themselves and the environment around them. With proper guidance, every child could and should do for himself all that he is capable of doing. He is taught to be responsible for self-care, such as washing his hands, putting on his shoes, and getting dressed. The child is also taught to care for his environment by returning books and toys after using them, sponging the table after snacks, and mopping or sweeping the floor. This also helps a child value himself and respect the things around him.
The social and emotional growth of each child develops in a supportive environment. As a beginning preschooler, the child learns to trust his teachers and make friends. At the same time, he becomes more self-reliant and independent. Separation from parents is a significant element in gaining independence. At the same time, he is also learning the rules, routines and expectations of the classroom. This includes sitting in a circle, raising his hand to speak, or waiting for his turn. The child is also given opportunities to speak out and the people around him support and value his feelings and ideas. He is also taught how to handle emotions such as frustration, anger or hurt.
Although this is not part of the five basic skills, it is one of the most important aspects that a child must learn in his growing years. Values like honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, kindness and love must be modeled and taught. The character of a child will be crucial on how he will live his life in the coming years.
Gaining knowledge is not the only prerequisite to living a full life. Positive self-esteem and the ability to handle emotions like frustration and failure are necessary to maintaining healthy relationships in life. Teaching kids these basic skills early on will surely help them grow up well rounded and grounded. The title of a bestselling book by Robert Fulghum says it quite clearly: "Everything you really need to learn, you learn in kindergarten."
BY: MICHELLE SIMTOCO
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