I keep to the point that children can benefit from studying much more if a proper approach is used by the teacher. I do not believe those who state that if a child does not want to study, there is no way making her/him do it. My conviction is that individual approach to every child not only improves the teacher’s relations with him/her, but also positively influences the child’s development and learning achievements. All children are unique and there are hardly two students with the same learning abilities. If their abilities differ, this means that they comprehend one and the same data differently, need different time for comprehension, and may even run to different conclusions. The role of the teacher is not to make students learn, but to show them the ways in which knowledge can be acquired.
My role as a teacher is to analyze learning abilities of each student in my group, to compare them with the abilities of other children, and to work out an individual approach to each of my students. Since children get most of information from the interaction with their peers, I should make them interested in the activities which would favor this interaction and increase the amount of information obtained from communication. Children will share their experiences, discuss their achievements and advise each other how to better perform this or that task. This would not only make them work as a team, but would develop critical thinking of each of the group members. At this, the teacher should be an observer, rather than an active participant who can help and guide children only when they need this. Of course, the students should not be totally independent, but it is the teacher’s duty to create an atmosphere which would evoke respect and trust to him/her at one and the same time. Some tools can be used to record children’s activities and to trace the development of each of the members of the group, as well of the whole group.
It is the teacher’s responsibility to make the class as informative and interesting as it is possible. Proper environment in the class will result in better achievements of each of the students and their equal participation in the activities will make them realize their necessity. The activities should be aimed at discovering children’s potential and developing their already existing skills together with acquiring new ones. While planning these activities, it is important to take into account the needs of each student separately. Thus, according to my philosophy,
- Building warm relations with children allows collecting as much information about them as possible;
- Using individual approach to each child in the group helps to plan the curriculum;
- Using specific tools (such as portfolios and reflective journals) helps to trace the child’s development and learning achievements);
- Interaction with environment is crucial for the learning process because it helps to develop persistence and concentration;
- Illustrating may help to develop children’s verbal and written language.
Support for philosophical statement
Each planning of curriculum should start with defining major skills and interests of the members of the group. For this, the teacher should build warm relations with all the members of the group and to earn their trust. Gathering of information should take place in two stages. The first stage should be mere observing. This would help to define some personal characteristics of children, for instance, the way they communicate with others, their engagement into discussions, their major behavioral patterns, etc. The second stage is direct interaction with children; this includes, first of all, listening to them and only then asking the questions one may be interested in. It is important for the teacher to observe whether the alterations in children’s behaviors are or are not connected with the changes at school, such as the absence of some staff members. (Arse 2000) When the assessment information is collected, it may be used for planning different learning experiences which would help to develop the children’s abilities. (Arse 2000)
Teaching students is always challenging for it demands great responsibility and complete devotion. Teaching younger children, for instance aged from 3 to 8, is even more challenging because the teacher has a direct influence on their development and shaping of their individuality. The period in the child’s life from three to eight years is the most important, because the child experiences vast and significant changes, such as growing from a helpless infant into an individual able to solve problems and make decisions. (Puckett & Diffily 1999) This is why individual approach to each child in the group is crucial. It allows learning the child’s characteristics and makes the teacher aware of the stages of development typical for a concrete child. (Puckett & Diffily 1999) All the children go through the same stages of development, but each child does it at definite rates. Using individual approach will help to build a curriculum which would meet the development needs of each child in the group. (Puckett & Diffily 1999) When planning a curriculum, one should keep in mind that it should be flexible enough to adapt to the developmental needs of all the children in the group. (Catron & Allen 2008)
There are a number of tools which may assist in gathering information about children. Portfolio is one of the tools which help to trace the child’s skills, efforts, progress, and achievements. (Elliot 1999) A Portfolio may contain information not only about the child’s educational achievements, but also certain personal information, for example interviews with the child’s family. (Elliot 1999) The teacher may attach to the portfolio the samples of children’s works (such as their drawings or writings), which can be further evaluated by the teacher. The collection of the child’s works will help to trace his/her behavior, development, and learning achievements. At large, portfolios might include objectives for learning and development, outcomes per curriculum, activity plans, and some planning for future. (Elliot 1999) Thus portfolios help not only to gather information about children, but to record their achievements and trace their development. With time, children may be taught to organize their portfolios by themselves, which will help them to construct their identity. (Helm, Beneke & Steinheimer 1998)
Another method to record observations is a reflective journal. This journal also helps to trace children’s development but, unlike portfolio, it can focus on the behavior of the whole group. This tool allows observing the child’s development against the background of the group. The aim of the teacher is to keep the journal as vividly, playfully, and creatively as it is possible. (Holly 1987) For instance, it may be an observation of how a child takes part in a definite play, his/her reaction when seeing one of the parents at pick-time, or the reaction of the whole group (and its each member) when a stranger enters the classroom. (Billman and Sherman 1997) Keeping a reflective journal will help to define which activities evoke more interest in children, how their family relationships affect their learning progress, and how much they differ from other members of the group. Thus, the reflective journal allows learning more about children’s development (Billman and Sherman 1997) and recording their learning progress.
Along with trying to define the needs of each child in the group, it is also necessary to help children to meet their needs. This helping involves planning of learning activities in frames of the existing curriculum. Persistence and concentration are the qualities which are rather hard to develop in children due to their being sometimes hyperactive. Interaction with environment helps to breed these qualities stimulating the natural learner in every child. (Cromwell 2000) It can also be regarded as one of the activities which influences children’s decision making. (Fleet & Patterson 1998) Challenging environment can favor children’s development because it opens in them a desire to continue their studies in order to enlarge their knowledge. Some activities help children to immerse with environment. For instance, after learning how to ride a tricycle, a child starts gaining new experience learning to maneuver it, increasing speed or slowing down, and ends up rerouting traffic and applying innovative thinking and self-management to any problem he/she comes across. (Cromwell 2000) In this way, the child develops persistence in learning something definite and concentration on this definite activity.
Finally, illustration is one of the activities which assists in the learning process most of all because it is inevitably connected with drawing which children like so much. Illustration may be regarded as a reflection of what children heard and understood, as well as their own interpretation of what they heard. Reflection is a part of the learning process and a learning process itself. (Allen 1992) As a part of the learning process, it helps to comprehend certain information, and as a learning process, it develops skills needed to produce the reflection. These skills may include oral and written language by means of which the reflection is produced. Thus, children express their ideas by means of illustrating and develop their speaking skills when discussing and giving explanations to their illustrations. Further, they may be asked to put down their explanations in writing, because namely writing helps to express thoughts in a clearer way. (Edington 2004) This is what makes illustration critical for erudition and what helps children to develop their writing and oral language simultaneously.
It seems to me that effective curriculum planning is extremely important for children, especially for those who are younger than 7. Children get distracted all the time during the class. This happens not because of their absence of desire to study, but because of their natural curiosity and restlessness. These two features of young children should be taken into account when planning a curriculum for them. It is important for the curriculum to involve activities which would satisfy children’s curiosity and have them stay at one and the same place at least for some time. According to my philosophy, illustrating is critical for erudition, this is why most of the activities will center around the discussion of different pictures and simple tables or graphs. Children will learn to present their thoughts while drawing and will put down the information not in letters, but it pictures. The tasks (together with drawings) will get more complicated with each day, which will contribute into the children’s development of erudition. One more aspect of my philosophy is that verbal and written languages develop simultaneously; discussion of the pictures presented by the instructor, as well as of those drawn by children will show this development.
I have observed that my group of children has interests in music and reading (either by themselves or when somebody reads to them). My main goal will be to achieve complete cooperation between the children of the group by making them to work either in pairs or in small teams; my another objective is to develop these children’s areas of interest by teaching them main aspects of language and communication, social interaction, and cultural understanding. Children will listen to teaching material about the importance of language and communication in any society. Since they have interest in reading and listening, the teaching material will be organized into short amusing songs, stories, or anecdotes; stories will be read to the group either by me or by those children who have sufficient reading skills. Social interaction will be achieved by means of discussion of these stories and offering children to make up their own stories in teams or in pairs. The stories will also include information on different cultures and importance of communication between people of different nationalities. Children will benefit from such learning because they will acquire certain experience in reading, discussion, socializing, and learning about different cultures having fun at this.
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