by Helene J. Uchida
Although the learning curve of a child is fairly predictable, it is important to remember that each child progresses at his/her own pace. The child’s drive to learn is awesome, and it is the role of the teacher (and parents) to nourish it. The trap we should not fall into is that of pushing a child too hard, too soon.
3-year-olds: They are pretty interested in doing things for themselves and trying to keep up with older children. Some like to draw with crayons. They have an initial interest in small puzzles and like to dance with with a group (following the teacher). They can begin to deal with cause and effect.
Four-year-olds: Motor skills develop, so they are usually able to put puzzles together with relish. They are interested in colors and identifying the world around them. Singing and dancing come easily. They enjoy interacting with others.
Five-year-olds: They understand counting and can manage to begin writing. They enjoy interacting with others, so group play and approval become important; cooperation and negotiation are possible.
Behavior in general: The adult should encourage child to act responsibly by setting limits on dangerous activities (running), antisocial behavior (talking when another child is speaking) or being rude. Be consistent with rules. Praise child when he/she plays well with others or succeeds with activities.
Source: Newsweek, summer,1997
The following suggestions facilitate language learning with youngsters:
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Emphasize or repeat short, simple words.
- Make short statements.
- Use commands often. (Come in, stand up, sit down, show me, give me, take off your shoes.)
- Gesture while you speak.
- Respond to child’s English. (Yes, the apple is RED.)
- Smile a lot.
- Use colorful materials for visual stimultation.
- Use music to set the mood, give class a tempo, sing and dance and use as background music for playing games.
- Have simple games on hand to play at the end of class and switch every few weeks.
- Respect the child as another human being who just happens to be smaller and younger than you.