Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What you learned in preschool...

Baking apple muffins for a snack in Pre K
What should we be teaching kids to assure their future success?  

Claire Cain Miller in Why What You Learned in Preschool is Crucial at Work in the Sunday New York Times, cites recent long-term studies that support the basics of the preschool curriculum - for everyone.  It turns out that flexibility, empathy, sharing, negotiating and playing well with others, combined with intellectual acuity, are absolutely key.  Jobs and wages for those who possess all these skills have far outpaced those where just one or the other domain, either social or cognitive, is required.  

Of course, that's no secret for us here at Parker.  Part of our mission after all, is "nurturing confidence and community."  On the ground level in the classroom that means giving children daily challenges to work in cooperative groups - for example during middle school STEM week when small teams of "engineers" design and build a bridge, and then produce a documentary video to go along with it.

This year in the 2-3's teachers are piloting a "Flexibility" curriculum, specifically teaching children how to give up rigidity and embrace cooperation.  Teacher Lynn Schuster writes, 

This week's Power of Flexibility work involved the kids running through an obstacle course with a rigid body and then with a flexible one. The average speed for completing the course with a flexible body was twice as quick as with a rigid one.

Other skills that build emotional control and response inhibition - some of the basics for what is called executive function, are incorporated in practices like Responsive Classroom and time for sustained make-believe play.  In this way, children learn to think before acting, take turns, recover from disappointment, or deal with perceived unfairness.  

It is always nice to have our basic values and teaching philosophy supported by research. With graduates in their early 30's who are Emmy winning film-makers, mechanical and mathematical engineers, successful social and business entrepreneurs, doctors, artists, lawyers, and not-for-profit founders, we see it in action!
Middle School kids cooperate on the "Up and Over",
an element on our Low Ropes Course

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