Create Spaces for Learning Success: Talk. Play. Move. Create. Learn.
Education does not begin in kindergarten. Education does not begin at school. Education begins at birth, at home, and in daycare and pre-schools. This is true for both gaining skills and for healthy emotional and social development for all children. Pre-school, daycare, and other early learning environments can contribute to the success of children for the rest of their time in school and even in life!
“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”
– Chinese proverb
DID YOU KNOW?
- Children who only have vocabularies of a few hundred words by age three can have a very hard time catching up later in school
- Children who are exposed to early brain exercise are much more likely to stay in school and excel academically
- Early experiences, such as exposure to language and positive interaction with caring adults, shapes how a brain is built and opens the pathways to all later social, cognitive, and emotional learning. Just like building a house, a solid foundation is the first critical step
- Adults who have had quality early learning experiences earn higher wages, are more likely to hold a job, be enrolled in a 4-year college, commit fewer crimes, and are more likely to graduate from high school
Learning Environments Matter!
The physical environment for learning has been the topic of much research and conversation in the past several years considering how vital it is to the academic success of students. Educators and researchers agree that both community environments and physical learning environments have huge influences on how students learn, perceive things, handle certain situations, and overall how their brain processes.
When you think about it, what’s the first thing children do when they walk into a classroom? They look around, listen, and check out the environment. They are already making judgments about how safe, welcoming, interesting and fun their experience will be in that room. Physical environments influence how we feel, hear, see, and think. Those factors influence cognitive and affective performance—which is vital to the learning process.
High quality early learning experiences empower students, teachers, and parents.
STUDENTS— Empower children by encouraging them to initiate their own learning activities. Active learning encourages children to solve their everyday intellectual, social, and physical problems and to assume a measure of control over their environment. Through exploring, manipulating objects, and interacting with people, children are able to formulate ideas, try these ideas out, and see what happens.
Most educators agree that children understand best what they discover or invent themselves.
PARENTS—Parents are empowered when they are involved with teachers in supporting their children’s learning and development. Being in the classroom helps parents view their children as able, active learners, and they are then better able to continue the learning at home. Work with your child’s teacher to come up with ideas for involvement that work for everyone. Be a story reader. Teach a song. Help with an art project. Share a special interest or talent.
Seeing your child interact with her teacher and other students offers great insight into how to support her learning at home.
TEACHERS—Teachers are empowered when they use the classroom environment as a ‘learning lab’. Teachers can organize the room to encourage children to be independent and to learn with other children. When teachers pay attention to how children are engaging with the environment and each other, it will give them lots of clues as to how to support their learning. When the classroom space is divided into interest areas or learning centers, this reflects the natural interest of young learners.
Environments that create plenty of opportunity for children to Talk, Play, Move, and Create will produce healthy kids, successful students, and productive adults. Check out ECR4Kids products for great ideas to help create spaces for learning success.
About the Author:
Lisa M. Lasky is the Senior Director of the National Equity Project. She has worked in education for over 25 years as a teacher, leader, school and district coach, and has led several organizational/system change projects across the country. She is a founding director of the National Equity Project, based in Oakland, CA, and has served in many roles including Associate Director, Director of Elementary and Middle Schools, Director of the School Grants Program, and Deputy Director. She currently leads NEP’s Leadership Development and Coaching Division – overseeing support and services to a portfolio of clients from California to Mississippi to Washington, DC. Lisa holds a B.A. in Sociology and English from the State University of New York, College at Cortland and an M.A. in Education from UC Berkeley.