One of the challenges of early childhood education is that in an effort to meet state standards, many teachers take the play out of preschool. As an invested early childhood professional, I believe that play and exploration is the heart of learning and can't imagine my little people learning any other way. From what I have observed, the content area that is most taught ineffectively in preschool is that of literacy development. Unfortunately, a large amount of early childhood teachers are uniformed and use direct instruction and *shudder* ditto sheets to teach early childhood literacy. I have seen far too many of my colleagues sit a group of 3 and 4 year old children in a large circle as they try to get the class to name letters or provide them with the letter sound. Or gather up a group of little people and force them to write meaningless letter strings. They then complain when the children are restless. Of course they are restless! They are not engaged and often being forced to sit for something that is not a developmentally appropriate expectation. When my little people leave my room and transition to Kindergarten they are prepared and excited...and they were not subjected to endless direct instruction in preschool. Rather, they have learned to love letters and books and sounds as we explore within the classroom.
The concept of syllables is explore through games and, in this example, dots. This little person shows a large knowledge of how words and syllables work and was never once made to sit down in a large group to spit out answers involving the break down of words.
Each little person's writing level is respected. This name sample made with class is very similar to how this little person writes her name with pencil.
The little people are also encouraged to play with letters as this child did by making a mirror image of the K with paint and canvas.
When giving a slab of clay and the invitation to create a letter, this little person decided to make an L for his name.
This older child responded to the invitation of paint and canvas to paint her entire name. Twice.
Whereas this little person responded to the invitation by painting many Ds.
And also using clay to represent the same idea.
This little person went beyond her name and created an O.
Now, doesn't this seem more enjoyable than ditto sheets and a teacher forcing information at you?