In America, we currently have this idea that our children are struggling academically so the answer lies in pushing them more and more, at earlier and earlier ages… If our children are struggling academically, it does not make sense to make them do more of the same things that are failing them and from a younger age.”
I use this quote from Alicia Bayer (cited here, though the original source no longer links) frequently when talking about improving early education. Doing something earlier doesn’t make it better. Doing something better makes it better. And when it comes to young children, “better” means teaching them the way they learn and when they’re meant to learn it.
If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” -Ignacio Estrada
In two recent conversations with Rae Pica on the BAM Radio Network, we discussed aspects of early childhood education and how they are typically approached, and what best practice tells us.
In the first discussion, Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist (who wrote articles I love here and here — along with many other impressive pieces of work) talked with us about what really contributes to fine motor development. As I’ve said before, getting kids to be more proficient at writing requires more than simply putting a pencil in their hands earlier and for longer.
Before we ever put a pencil in a child’s hands, those hands should dig, climb, press, pull, squish, twist, and pinch in a wide array of environments and with a variety of materials.
I wrote about fine motor development here and here. (One of which, Rae referenced and asked me to tell more about it. Can you tell it took a moment for me to remember writing that line seven years ago? I can’t believe my little guy is so big now!)
You can listen to our brief discussion on Rae’s podcast below.
I also discussed literacy development with Rae and her guest, Dr. Laura Bailet, shortly after. In this podcast, we discussed how something as simple as learning the ABCs is actually quite complicated, and why real literacy — and specifically, the understanding of the alphabetic principle — is founded on more than simply singing “now I know my ABCs“.
You can read some of my posts on early literacy in this series, and listen to our brief podcast discussion below.
Sometimes there is a misconception that a developmentally appropriate approach to literacy means we “don’t teach reading”. Listen here as I discuss what’s really at play in the Preschool Reading Dilemma, on Not Just Cute: The Podcast.