Tips for Educators
Teaching with Patience:
- Successful mentoring requires patience. Adults must recognize that as children learn new things, the results are not going to be perfect at first. Young children view learning new things as exciting and rewarding if an understanding teacher breaks down the skill being taught into small steps and practices each one separately. This makes learning more enjoyable and less overwhelming.
- Teaching to strengths is a key concept. Caring teachers and parents should work together to identify and develop a struggling child’s strengths. Not only will this help him feel good about himself, it can open up unique learning opportunities.
- As children make sounds and babble in response to a parent’s or teacher’s comments, the adult should make eye contact and repeat back the sounds or words so that the child understands she is being heard. Having a conversation with a baby is the first step in developing her language skills.
- Reading age-appropriate books to infants while holding them in your lap is a good practice. It brings the parent or teacher physically close to the baby and begins setting the stage for him to realize that reading is enjoyable and interesting.
- Reading the same book over and over is what children like. Repetition of words builds language and helps children feel comfortable with favorite book characters.
- When reading to children, talk about the pictures on each page and ask questions about the story or characters in the story. Ask your preschool age child to talk about the story and how he would feel or what he would do if he were the character.
- For children to get the most from being read to, parents and teachers should allow for pauses, questions and discussions between pages allowing for greater thinking to take place and more words to be introduced. Reading a story is much more than just reading the words on the page.
- With any book read to a child, additional activities can be developed that extend the story. Consider make some of these activities part of the reading time experiences.
- Provide paper and crayons, colored pencils, chalk or other art supplies, and give children opportunities to draw a picture about their favorite part of the story or their favorite character. Let them tell you about the drawing so you can write what they are saying on the bottom of the drawing and display for others to see. If children are old enough to write, encourage them to write a few lines to explain their picture.
- Ask a child to make up a different ending to a story. After he tells you the ending, ask him how he came up with his ending and if he would like to draw a picture to illustrate the new ending. For children who can write, encourage them to use a computer or write by hand their new ending and to share it with the family or class.
- Children can act out stories they have heard or take the main characters and act out new adventures with encouragement from parents and teachers. Props such as sheets, scarves, telephone books and pots can be transformed into all types of magical and unusual items. Given time and space and a few household items, new worlds and places can be discovered and enjoyed!
- The use of harsh tones in directing children can result in the reduction of their curiosity. To establish safety limits, it is better to use quiet tones and to be firm and consistent.
- Talk to children about the rules you make to protect them, so that the rules make sense. Also help children curb disruptive behaviors by helping them develop internal coping mechanisms such as counting to ten when angry, taking a deep breath before responding to the situation, or talking with an adult to talk through an issue rather than react in a disruptive way.
Sources for Early Learning Tips
Going to School: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers of School-Age Children, written by Dr. Cathy Grace and produced by Mississippi Public Broadcasting 2003
Mississippi State Extension Service