6 Lessons to remember when you start teaching a kid!
The Tiny Learners began when my sister who planned to get her son admitted to school this year decided against it because of the coronavirus pandemic. I work in the development sector, had just finished up a project, and wanted to take a break to peruse some of my other interests, early childhood education being one of them. My sister is a consultant psychiatrist and has a very busy routine. So I took this upon myself to support her in at least getting Rayyan, her son, to start on the basics. Weeks and weeks of reading books, going through available online resources and curricula around the world, discussions with early childhood educators, homeschoolers and parents, made me learn some very important lessons to remember when it comes to teaching a child.
Here is a quick summary of those lessons that may help educators and parents working in early childhood education.
- Every child is unique:
Children develop and learn in different ways and at different paces. They can be resilient, capable, confident, and self-assured. They learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships and are constantly learning. They learn and develop in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs. Do not go by the traditionally set benchmarks. Do not compare your child with others. Let them grow at their own pace.
- Start as soon as possible:
Do not think of ‘starting’ as teaching in a traditional school or a classroom setting. Think about how the child is learning while playing. Think about how he/she is developing his/her motor skills, socio-economic skills, how he/she is exploring his/her surroundings, how he/she is learning to adapt, and getting knowledge without actually going through a formal traditional curriculum. Research says that brain sensitivity is higher and development is way more rapid in the period from birth to age eight than at later periods. This makes it very crucial to start earlier.
- Provide the best learning environment:
The learning environment is a whole formed by physical, psychological, and social elements. It includes facilities, the immediate neighborhood, and psychological and social settings functionally linked to different situations as well as various materials and equipment. You know your child, you know what they love, what they hate, and what makes them excited, unlike the school. So, you have this wonderful opportunity to provide the best possible learning environment for your kids. Explore interests together. Give them opportunities to experience life. Find ways in which their interests can be nurtured. Let them play and inquire on their own. Just give them tools to do it and you will be amazed to see them grow and learn.
- Monitor child development:
The development of young children evolves at a rapid pace and ongoing monitoring can more accurately capture how a child is developing (Meisels and Atkins-Burnett, 2000; NICHD, 2002). Use monitoring tools (narrative assessments, observational tools, etc) to monitor children’s development, then reflect on your teaching practices, adapt, and plan actions to meet children’s needs. This is a great way to improve teaching practices.
There is a whole bunch of material on the Internet and I can guarantee you will find whatever you want to look for the perfect curriculum that caters to your child’s needs. I did a lot of research. I spent hours and hours surfing the Internet because there are so many things that you can learn. I subscribed to several YouTube channels, joined Facebook groups, read curricula around the world, and then developed a plan that is still a work in progress.
- Connect with like-minded people:
Humans are social animals. You need a strong network of people for your support, sharing your experiences, and reflecting on your practices. Along the way, you teach them something and learn something from them. It’s very important to be able to share your experiences with people. Educating a child, although extremely rewarding, is not easy and at times can become overwhelming. Make sure you have the right kind of support when needed and do not shy away from asking for help.