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Best Educational Practices – Ages 3-5

Hands-on learning and learning through play are among the best practices in educational methods for kids ages 3-5.

In other posts, we have provided high-level overview reports on the following topics which you may find useful;

1. LEARNING THROUGH PLAY

  • At this age, all kids want to do is play. Incorporating education in fun activities only makes it seamless for them to learn new things. Recommended learn through play techniques that facilitate effective learning include; using Lego bricks, movements like dancing, clapping and skipping and play games;

How it helps

Scientific evidence

Educators applying the method

  • Incorporating play in learning was found to be effective by Mary Ann Kelly, a successful homeschool educator for her two daughters, who are now graduates. Mary Ann’s tips on homeschooling have been featured in HuffPost.
  • Teachers of Yew Chung International School of Shanghai have also incorporated “learning through play” in their teaching practice.
  • Karen Nelson, a former elementary teacher and a senior editor at WeAreTeachers, also backs the use of learning through play when dealing with kids ages 3-5.

2. HANDS-ON LEARNING

How it helps

Scientific evidence

Educators applying the method

Research strategy

Research identified learning through play and hands-on learning are the most common methods that kindergarten educators and homeschoolers employ when teaching kids ages 3-5.
Learning through play was frequent in most of the blogs and kindergarten school sites that we explored. A kindergarten school in Shanghai emphasized on play as an educational method. An experienced homeschooler also identified fun as the best learning environment for 4-year-olds. In another blog by a former elementary school teacher, learning through play and hands-on learning also featured heavily in her tips for teaching kindergarten.
Hands-on learning was also identified as a frequent practice that teachers and homeschoolers used according to the sources that we found. Friends Central school is among the schools we found that emphasized hands-on learning. A blog from a publisher of children’s book acknowledged the emotional benefits that came with a hands-on educational method and supported the method as a useful technique in the educational development of kids. In addition, we discovered that various engagement activities such as painting, art and craft, creating sculptures, colors, and crayons, among other frequent educational practices for kindergarten kids could all sum up as hands-on practices.

Best Educational Practices – Ages 5-7

Teachers use best practices in their classrooms in order to produce self-directed learners who can understand concepts easily. Young children aged 5-7 years particularly need guidance in the classroom so that they can learn about new concepts and put them together. Teachers must therefore ensure that they use best practices that will increase the effectiveness of the learning process. Examples of best practices include modeling behavior and scaffolding, which are described in detail below.

1. Modeling Behavior

  • Modeling behavior refers to the ability of teachers to show children how to use good behavior through empathy, actions and words.
  • For example, teachers can model the importance of cleanliness to young children by wiping spills in the classroom or helping children to put building blocks back on the shelf during clean up times.
  • Modeling includes teaching politeness and courtesy through words such as “thank you” and “please”.
  • Another way for teachers to serve as a model for young children is by joining in their play. This will help the children to start learning about new materials or games in the classroom. If, for instance, a teacher introduces a new game in the classroom, he should play the game with the children until they can play effectively on their own.
  • Once the children can play the game on their own, the teacher can move on and encourage them to play independently.
  • Albert Bandura’s social learning theory emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, emotional reactions of others, and their attitudes.
  • If people were allowed to learn based only on their own actions, then learning would be a tiresome and hazardous process. Fortunately, most people learn by modeling: from observing behavior, actions and speech.
  • A student in a classroom with therefore model their teacher’s behavior, and the teacher has a duty to exhibit positive behavior inside and outside the classroom.
  • One educator who uses modeling in her classroom is Kolleen Moncada from Wisconsin’s Pewaukee Elementary School.
  • She helps her student to learn by teaching them to be empathetic, by listening to their needs, and ensuring that all her students know that they are important.

2. Scaffolding

  • Scaffolding refers to offering children a support system as they learn in the classroom. It is mostly used with younger children as they learn new concepts that they have not been exposed to frequently.
  • Children need to be aware that their teacher is available when they need him.
  • For instance, a teacher is needed when a child wants to start a game, to visit the toilet, and to be comforted when they are hurt.
  • Scaffolding also involves providing the children with support in their process of learning.
  • Young children need an adult or an older, more experienced child to support their progress as they make sense of the world inside and outside the classroom.
  • Scaffolding will also help them to accomplish tasks that are too difficult for them to complete on their own.
  • Teachers scaffold by watching for teachable moments and helping the children to develop new skills that build on existing skills.
  • For example, a teacher can help a child to solve a puzzle by sitting with the child and talking about the shapes of the pieces. This will help the child to understand how to match curved lines and pictures to related parts of the puzzle.
  • Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is a scaffolding theory used in education. It states that children learn faster when they are helped by their teacher or an older student. When a student collaborates with others who have a broader range of skills than the student currently has, he will learn more than when he is studying alone.
  • ZPD is therefore a set of skills or knowledge that a student cannot acquire on their own but can gain with the help of others. For example, a child learning to read and write might know all the letters of the alphabet but cannot read or write the words. However, with the teacher’s help, he can learn to read and write short words because this skill is within the ZPD.
  • An example of an educator using scaffolding is Kimberly Bouchie, who won the 2015 Early Childhood Educator Award. She teaches 5-year-olds at Stoneham Kindercare in Stoneham, Massachusetts.
  • Kimberly helps children to engage in finger play that enables them to improve their fine motor skills and to build their imaginations. She uses a hands-on approach to increase the children’s learning capabilities.
GLENN TREVOR
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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