Today's lesson built on the work we did yesterday in the 3-year-old class. Like in my high school classes, where I routinely connected ideas back to previous lessons, the teachers asked the children to "remember" from yesterday. Also like in my high school classes, they were sometimes faced with blank stares. My favorite moment of the morning was when the teacher asked for the name of the President on the penny. She held up Abe's picture, and the crickets began chirping. I was not surprised that the children could not remember the name; my son could not tell his father last night, and despite my coaching, he could not remember in the car on the way to school this morning either. I was surprised, and delighted, however, when a young boy finally called out "Abraham Slinky." It makes me chuckle even to write it now.
I learned today how I might teach (coach) young children to write letters.
Step 1: Write the word (letters) in dots.
Step 2: Have the child trace the letters with the pointer finger. Provide physical support if they need help making the motions. Combine this physical help with verbal explanation of how to start and create each letter. (e.g., Push out and come around; Start at the top and bring it down.)
Step 3: Show the child how to hold a pencil (if they aren't already using a finger grip).
Step 4: Allow the child to connect the dots of the letters. Again provide physical guidance when needed (and only when absolutely necessary) and a verbal explanation of how to form each letter.
Unfortunately for a few of the children, I learned this lesson after I led one of the centers where they were working on writing their names. Next time, I will do better.
Yesterday I ended my blog post with a question about the concept value of money. Today I realized that it's not too early to introduce the concept, and the teachers did just that through the use of two non-fiction texts. The great divide between fiction and non-fiction, narrative and exposition, at the secondary level continues to dominate my thoughts when I watch my preschool colleagues integrate all kinds of texts in the service of thematic learning. Perhaps we spend too much time in the upper grades studying texts, when we should be using texts, all kinds of texts, to inquire into real-world issues. Seems like another lesson to take from preschool.