5 preschool teaching methods to improve the quality of early care and education

Ashok Deepan
Jan 29, 2021
Education Tips

Brain development is at its peak during infancy. That is why the first three years of a child are crucial. It is at this time that children develop their cognitive abilities. Today, it is rare to find a household where only one parent is working; therefore, there is an increasing need for high-quality early childhood education. Parents usually try to assess whether a daycare or playgroup program is safe and healthy for their child. Still, many have no idea of the kind of learning activities their child will be participating in.

Although the government has a set of requirements for early childhood schools to follow, these policymakers are not concerned enough about what happens in the classroom. Therefore parents need to be informed about the qualities of excellent early childhood education. Educators emphasize that most of the teaching in early childhood classrooms should be interactive, which is what you will find in the best preschool in Singapore.

Also Read: 10 tips for parents seeking admission in a Preschool in Singapore

What is Interactive Teaching?

The interactive method of teaching encourages children to be active in their learning process. There are four ways teachers can create an interactive learning environment:

● Hands-on demonstrations and activities

● Student-to-student interactions

● Student-teacher interactions

● Use of audiovisuals

Research has shown that using any of the methods mentioned above improves children's retention of their learning. Aside from memory retention, interactive teaching makes the lessons interesting hence improving students' attendance. When children are young, they must enjoy what they are doing because they become more curious and interested in the activity or subject.

Interactive teaching also aids in student-teacher engagement and peer-to-peer engagement. When a teacher does an activity with the students, they get to know the student better and tailor more exercises according to their strengths and interests.

It is equally important to encourage young students to participate in group activities either as a class, in pairs, or groups of five. This enhances their social skills and builds a teamwork culture, which are essential skills a student will need in the future.

Learning through play is the most common interactive teaching method used by early childhood educators. All games are learning games, and they promote specific skills such as memory, senses, math and language skills, and many others. It is important to note that the interactive teaching method can be applied both inside and outside the classroom.

Preschool Teaching Methods

1.   Reggio-Emilia

The Reggio-Emilia teaching method focuses on preschool and primary school students. It is a student-centred approach where most of the learning is experiential and relationship-driven. It has four core principles:

Emergent Curriculum – Both students and parents develop curriculum topics based on the students' interests. The teachers then decide on the activities best suited for their classrooms and encourage parents to stay involved.

In-depth projects – Children can participate in year-long projects that are introduced to them as exciting adventures. Through these projects, children explore concepts and ideas that interest them with the guidance of their teachers. The teachers also assist the children to pick the mode of representation for their projects. Most projects take one to two weeks.

Collaboration – Students are encouraged to take part in collaborative activities to improve their cognitive skills. In these learning groups, kids learn to negotiate, compare, and discuss solutions with each other to improve their interpersonal skills. Teachers observe to make sure every child is heard and valued as a member of the group.

Representational development – Students are allowed to present their work in multiple formats such as artwork, music, print, and many others. New ideas are also welcome to enable the child to understand the subject in a way they are most comfortable with.

The primary role of the teacher using this method is to be a guide. Classrooms are designed and set up to build the student's curiosity.

2.   Montessori method

The Montessori teaching method is widely used by international schools worldwide. Like the Reggio-Emilia method, it also takes the student-centred approach. Montessori's inventor strongly believed that the student should guide teachers; hence, every activity used in the Montessori early childhood education program is tailored to the child's needs and interests.

The aim is to grow the child academically, personally, emotionally, and socially. As much the student is in charge of their learning process, they also have to follow specific classroom rules. The Montessori program is offered to children from the age of 2-18 years old.

Montessori early education classrooms are scientifically designed to match the fact that a young mind is absorbent. Therefore every element is designed to grow a particular skill in the child while teachers act as coaches to bring out the child’s best in all aspects.

3.   Waldorf Steiner method

The Waldorf Steiner method is guided by three things, thinking, feeling, and doing. For young children of age 0-7, the program encourages learning through activity. The classroom is designed to engage the child's senses because that is the best way to teach preschoolers. The learning activities are designed to build a child's imagination, social skills, and exploration of academic concepts in a gentle manner.

Preschools in Singapore allow their students to experience and enjoy their childhood as they learn. Teachers are discouraged from attempting to hasten the learning process of the child. They are encouraged instead to allow the student to follow their rhythm. This way, the students grow to become self-aware individuals. The Waldorf teacher plays the mentor’s role so they can give their whole self to the full development of the student while creating lasting relationships.

4.   STEM-based method

STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and math. This method of teaching is relatively new but has become increasingly popular over the years. Based on the acronym’s meaning, one might think that STEM education is too complicated or too hard for preschoolers. However, children already engage in STEM activities spontaneously in their natural environment when you think about it. They use their toys in creative ways to build and make new things as they play by themselves or with others.

So, what exactly are STEM activities? For children, STEM activities include cooking, water play, building blocks, nature walks, and many others. You might be asking how does it fit into science and math? Let's take an activity like baking a cake. You have to measure and mix ingredients and put the mixture in an oven to bake. The measuring is math, mixing is science, and the oven is technology.

The idea of STEM came about because educators felt that the traditional education system taught math and science independently when they should be intertwined. Children enjoy activities that allow them to experiment and have fun equally. In this era of technology, it is vital that kids get a STEM education from an early age.

5.   Bank Street Method

The Bank Street approach, like most of the other methods, focuses on the development of children. Children learn through experience in an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment, and teaching is greatly influenced by the student’s cognitive development and emotions. Children develop in different ways and at different stages. Teachers who use this method pay attention to such developmental shifts and improve their methods to suit them.

Like the Montessori method, you will also find children of different ages in a Bank Street classroom. This is because younger children tend to learn through imitation. It also discourages competition among students. Educators who support this method have said that children rarely notice that they are playing or learning with older classmates. Therefore, it doesn't affect their academic progress; instead, it enhances it.

One factor that will determine your child's success in preschool is the program support structure for each of the methods listed above. For a teaching method to be successful, a school needs to have proper operational support. Administrative leaders should be not only skilled business managers but also provide instructional support for the teaching staff. Teachers should also be given a chance to improve their skills and knowledge of the teaching methods used at a particular school.

Preschool teaching is all about helping children become independent, well-rounded individuals with love for learning. Early childhood education has not been given much priority until recently after science has proven the benefits of good preschool education. This, however, has not changed the fact that institutions are still not sure about the model of teaching structure for toddlers.

The truth is that most preschool programs are expensive and, therefore, not accessible to a large population of parents. Most of the teaching programs in this article are used mostly in international schools. However, some schools are open to integrating these teaching methods into their current curriculums. This has led to the training of more teachers in the various teaching methods with specialized knowledge in early childhood development.

Ashok Deepan

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