March 16, 2013

Maine Voices: Preschoolers with close ties to adults poised for classroom success

For kids who don't have these experiences at home, early childhood programs can make a big difference.

By SUE REED

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To do this, we need teachers who understand instruction. How do we help children learn about their world in the most efficient ways? How do we explain why the snow is melting and what makes a shadow, and then expand children's thinking using thoughtful and well-placed questions?

How do we make sure that children are gaining in their development of phonological awareness (the ability to hear the sounds of language), a critical precursor to learning to read?

How do we use "big words" and expand children's vocabulary every day in the books we read and the conversations we have with them?

Our time with children in preschool is limited. Every part of every day must be intentional and exploited for maximum learning. In addition, we need to communicate what we are doing to families so they can continue our work at home. Oh, did I mention it all needs to be fun and engaging for children?

Finally, when children leave preschool, we need early elementary teachers to make sure they continue to move children forward so there won't be "fade-out" by third grade.

Want to see the bottom line in action in some of our preschools in Maine? Contact me and I'll personally show you what it takes to make a difference.

Sue Reed (email: sreed@ usm.maine.edu) is a social and behavioral sciences instructor at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

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