A quality start for Philadelphia’s youngest learners
“Mommy, how do astronauts shower?” Charlie, my daughter, asked when I picked her up from school yesterday. She is learning about gravity in her pre-k class this week and has been participating in experiments to test out this principle. The classroom science center is stocked full of everyday items – balls, feathers, pinecones, pencils, rocks, balloons, paper – all for Charlie and her fellow pre-k scientists to explore, test, and observe the law of gravity. There are stools and chairs to stand on; blocks to make ramps; and play-doh to make hills and mountains so that they can test how fast or slow things fall at different heights and weights. There is also a clipboard to draw or write out observations so that they can analyze the data after they have completed their experiments.
Charlie has also learned that while earth has gravity, there is no gravity in space, hence her question about how astronauts shower. She makes these types of logical connections all the time and while this is a part of natural child development, Charlie has a teacher who has been trained to create the best learning environment possible so that she connects the abstract to her daily life. Her pre-k classroom is in a child care center that subscribes to national and state standards of best practice based on research. And both her teacher and her center director make sure that I am a part of Charlie’s learning and development through parent conferences, parent committees and family events.
Charlie is only half way through pre-k and it’s amazing what she has learned. She has learned important pre-literacy skills such as predicting what will happen next while reading a story. Her entries in her daily journal have gone from markings, to drawings, to invented words, to actual words that are almost spelled correctly. She recently completed a still life clay sculpture of a dinosaur family and knows from cooking club that if you are out of eggs you can use applesauce and your muffins will turn out just as good, important lessons in following directions. She has done yoga, kickboxing and basketball to develop her gross motor skills, and she is working to master her fine motor skills by learning to hold her pencil correctly and to press firmly when trying to write. She knows what will happen if you add vinegar to baking soda and has discussed the change in these properties. She is adept at making up games, can initiate and participate in conversations, and she knows how to show compassion and to accept and give an apology when needed.