Teachers’ Summits

With continuously changing teaching curriculum and teaching trends, teachers need to trained from time to time as to better equip them to produce children ready to win.

Enhanced Learning is something that is minimal in many schools around Uganda, therefore in these summits we introduce this topic to the teachers and also train them on alternative teaching methods since many of them are stuck on the lecture method; anyway why would a nursery children be lectured.

More enjoyable teaching methods are very much needed in the learning system. Curious or Studious children, curiosity leads to innovation and this is what every teacher should encourage in the classroom.

Our Responsibility as Teachers

The years from birth through age five are a time of extraordinary growth and change. It is in these years that children develop the basic knowledge, understandings, and interests they need to reach the goal of being successful learners, readers, and writers.

All young children deserve experiences that will help them to achieve this goal. You play an important role in ensuring that “no child is left behind.” You spend many hours with children, and the right kind of activities can help them tremendously. You can be especially helpful to those children who have limited learning experiences at home.

Creating a Learning Environment for Young Children:

Effective preschool classrooms are places where children feel well cared for and safe. They are places where children are valued as individuals and where their need for attention, approval, and affection are supported. They are also places where children can be helped to acquire a strong foundation in the knowledge and skills needed for school success.

The type of Teachers children need:

Young children need teachers who welcome all children to their classrooms, including children from various cultures, children whose first language is not English, and children who have disabilities, Young children need teachers who take time to work with them individually, in small groups, and sometimes with the entire class—to help them develop their cognitive and social skills, their language abilities, and their interest in learning new things about the world, Young children need instruction to develop the thinking, language, and early literacy skills needed for continued school success.

A classroom to Enhance Learning:

Establish smaller and quiet areas in the classroom where children can examine story books, blocks, puzzles, write, engage in social play and work with other games. Put rugs/mats in these areas so that the children can sit and be comfortable, display children’s work all throughout the room and alphabet on walls at children’s eye levels, have some story books in the classroom and also have children make their own story books and add them to the shelves.

Developing Listening and Speaking Skills:

We need to put to rest the old saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” Research shows beyond question that it is through having many opportunities to talk as well as to listen to teachers and peers that children gain language skills so valuable for their success in reading and writing.

It is important for young children to be able to:
  • Listen carefully for different purposes, such as to get information or for enjoyment. • Use spoken language for a variety of purposes.
  • Follow and give simple directions and instructions.
  • Ask and answer questions.
  • Use appropriate volume and speed when they speak.
  • Participate in discussions and follow the rules of polite conversation, such as staying on a topic and taking turns.
  • Use language to express and describe their feelings and ideas.
It is important for teachers to:
  • Ask open-ended questions that invite children to expand upon their answers.
  • Present new words to children to expand their vocabularies.
  • Respond to questions and let children take the conversational lead.
  • Respond to children’s questions so they may build their language skills.
Here are some things that you can do to help develop and expand your children’s listening and speaking skills:
  • Engage children in conversation throughout the day.
  • When reading aloud to the children, encourage them to predict what will happen in the story, to comment on the story, and to make connections between the story and their personal experiences.
  • Play games that will focus children’s attention on the importance of listening carefully.
  • Gently reinforce the rules of good listening and speaking throughout the day.
  • Capitalize on routine opportunities to have children follow or give directions.

Reading Aloud to Children:

“the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading.” The best time to begin reading books with children is when they are infants—babies as young as six weeks old enjoy being read to and looking at pictures. By age two or three, children begin to develop an awareness of printed letters and words. They see adults around them reading, writing, and using printed words for many purposes. Toddlers and preschoolers are especially ready to learn from adults reading to and with them.

  • Reading aloud to young children is important because it helps them acquire the information and skills they need to succeed in school and life, such as:
    • Knowledge of printed letters and words and the relationship between sound and print.
    • The meaning of many words.
    • How books work and a variety of writing styles.
    • The world in which they live.
    • The difference between written language and everyday conversation.
    • The pleasure of reading
Here are some suggestions for reading aloud to children.
  1. Make reading books an enjoyable experience: Choose a comfortable place where the children can sit near you. Help them feel safe and secure. Be enthusiastic about reading. Show the children that reading is an interesting and rewarding activity. When children enjoy being read to, they will grow to love books and be eager to learn to read.
  2. Read to children frequently: Read to the children in your care several times a day: Establish regular times for reading during the day and find other opportunities to read: – Start or end the day with a book. – Read to children after a morning play period, which also helps settle them down. – Read to them during snack time or before nap time.
Help children to learn as you read:

Offer explanations, make observations, and help the children notice new information. Explain words they may not know. Point out how the pictures in a book relate to the story.

  1. Ask children questions as you read: Ask questions that help children connect the story with their own lives or that help them to compare the book with other books they have read. Ask questions that help the children notice what is in the book and ask them to predict what will happen next.
  2. Encourage children to talk about the book: Have a conversation with the children about the book you are reading. Answer their questions. Welcome their observations and add to what they say. Continue to talk about the book after you have read it. Invite the children to comment on the story. Ask them to talk about their favorite parts and encourage them to tell the story in their own words.
  3. Read many kinds of books: Children need to be read different kinds of books. Storybooks can help children learn about times, cultures, and peoples other than their own; stories can help them understand how others think, act, and feel. Informational books can help children learn facts about the world around them. These books also introduce children to important concepts and vocabulary that they will need for success in school. Read books that relate to the children’s backgrounds: their experiences, cultures, languages, and interests. Read books with characters and situations both similar and dissimilar to those in the children’s lives so they can learn about the world.
Choose books that help you teach:

Use alphabet books to help you teach the names of the letters and the sounds that each letter can represent and use counting books to teach children how to count and to recognize numbers. Use poetry or rhyming books to support your teaching of phonological awareness. Use big books (over sized books that your children can easily see) to point out letters, words, and other features of print and to teach book handling. Choose stories that help children learn about social behavior, for example, books about friendship to help children learn to share and cooperate.

Reread favorite books: Children love to hear their favorite books over and over again. Hearing books read several times helps children understand and notice new things. For example, they may figure out what an unfamiliar word means when they have heard a story several times. They may notice repeated sound patterns. If you point out some letters and words as you read the book repeatedly, children also may pick up specific words that are easily recognized and specific letter-sound relationships.

Talking about the sounds of spoken language:

The name for the ability to notice and work with the sounds in language is phonological awareness. Young children who have phonological awareness notice, for example, when words begin or end with the same sound—that bag, ball, and bug all begin with the sound of b; that words can rhyme; and that sentences are made up of separate words. Research shows that how quickly children learn to read often depends on how much phonological awareness they have when they begin kindergarten. It is important for young children to be able to:

  • Repeat rhyming songs and poems, identify rhymes, and generate rhyming words when playing a rhyming game.
  • Recognize the common sounds at the beginning of a series of words (alliteration).
  • Isolate the beginning sounds in familiar words.
  • Here are some things that you can do to help children learn about the sounds of spoken language:
  • Choose books to read aloud that focus on sounds, rhyming, and alliteration.
  • Have the children sing or say a familiar nursery rhyme or song. Repeat it several times, raising your voice on words that rhyme. Then have the children join in, saying the rhyming words with you.
  • Invite the children to make up new verses of familiar songs or rhymes by changing the beginning sounds of words.

Teaching about print:

From the time children are born, print is a part of their lives. Words decorate their blankets, sheets, and PJs. They appear on the posters and pictures that decorate their walls. They are on the blocks and toys that they play with and in the books that are read to them. Although printed words may be all around them, young children are not often aware of them. And, of course, they do not yet understand the role printed words will play in their lives. It is important for young children to:

  • Recognize print in their surroundings.
  • Understand that print carries meaning.
  • Know that print is used for many purposes.
  • Experience print through exploratory writing.
  • Children learn about print by seeing many examples. In your classroom, these examples should include:
  • Books and other printed materials for the children to look at and pretend to read. For very young children, have soft-covered and board books that are washable.
  • Photographs and pictures with captions and labels.
  • Posters, calendars, and bulletin board displays that feature print.
  • Labels and signs for special areas of the classroom.

Teaching about books:

As adults, we do not pay much attention to the routine features of books and book handling. We just know that, in English, we read from left to right and from the top to the bottom of a page that words are separated by spaces, and that sentences begin with capital letters and end with some kind of punctuation mark. We forget that when we were children we also had to learn these things.

It is important for young children to:

  • Know how to handle books appropriately.
  • Recognize book features such as the front and back covers, and the top and bottom, of a book.
  • Recognize that a book has a title, was written by an author, and has drawings done by an illustrator.
  • Recognize that printed letters and words run from left to right across the page and from top to bottom.

Building Children’s Background Knowledge and Thinking Skills

The more children know about their world, the easier it is for them to read and learn when they get to school. You have an important role to play in helping children learn new information, ideas, and vocabulary and learn how to use this knowledge to become full participants in their own learning. You can help children to connect new information and ideas to what they already know and understand.

It is important for young children to be able to:

  • Know about what things are and how they work.
  • Learn information about the world around them.
  • Extend their use of language and develop vocabulary.
  • Develop their abilities to figure things out and to solve problems.
Here are some things that you can do to help children build knowledge:

Provide them with opportunities to develop concepts by exploring and working with familiar classroom equipment and materials in a variety of ways.

  • Children learn about substances and changes in substances by cooking.
  • Children learn about plants by planting seeds and taking care of the growing plants.
  • Children learn about social situations and interactions through real interactions and dramatic play.

Provide a variety of materials for your children to explore, for example, wire, cardboard, water, tubing, and tissue paper.

Invite visitors to your classroom. Classroom visitors can teach your children a great deal. They can bring interesting objects or animals to talk about with the children. Visitors can talk about their jobs or their hobbies or show pictures of faraway places they have seen or tell stories about life long ago.

Share informational books

  • Children enjoy learning about their world. They enjoy looking at books about things of interest to them—perhaps how plants grow, how baby animals develop, or how vehicles carry people and things.
  • Fortunately, many wonderful informational books are available today—books with spectacular photographs or illustrations and descriptions that children can understand easily.
  • Teach the children new words and concepts. Explain new vocabulary in the books that you read with them. Teach them and name all of the things in the classroom. In everyday talk with children, introduce words and concepts that they may not know, for example, beauty or fairness.
  • Have children write, draw, build, and engage in dramatic play. These experiences will help children incorporate what they are learning into what they already know.
  • Take the children on field trips. Any time children go someplace, especially someplace new to them, they can learn something. Even if it is just a walk around the block, children can learn something new if you talk with them. Point out things they might not notice.

Teaching about Numbers and Counting

Many children enter preschool with some knowledge of numbers and counting. They can count five to ten objects accurately and can also read some numbers. But many other children have not developed this knowledge. These children, in particular, need many opportunities to learn the words for numbers, to count things, and to learn to read and write numbers.

You can help children learn about numbers and counting in many ways, including these informal ways:

  • Make pointing to and counting objects part of your daily routine.
  • As you pass out the juice cups at snack time, point and count the cups; as you pass out pieces of paper for an art project, point to the paper and count the pieces; count the children’s boots as you help take them off; count the stairs as the children walk down them.
  • As you point and count, get the children to count with you and then without you. Children need to hear and practice things a lot in order to learn them.
  • Help the children learn to answer the “how many?” question.
  • Children like to point to and count their fingers, their legs, and their ears. Help them do that.

Here are some other activities that you can use to help children with numbers and counting:

  • Use different types of macaroni. Encourage them to sort the different types and then count them.
  • When they play with number puzzles, encourage them to say the numbers as they put the pieces in the puzzles.
  • Have children include numbers in the pictures they draw and in the words and stories they write. For example, “What’s the street number for your house that you drew?” “Wow, you wrote a long story. Can you number all of those pages?”
  • Keep pencils, crayons, and paper around the room so that the children can make lists.

In Addition:

  • Using words such as same, different, more than, less than, and one more as you compare groups of objects.
  • Naming the first, second, third, fourth, and last items when you talk about things in a line or a series. For example, when cooking ask the children,
  • “What do you think the first ingredient will be? OK, what is the second thing we should add to the bowl?”
  • Using location words: in back of, beside, next to, between.
  • Teaching them to learn to recognize, name, and draw different shapes, and to combine some shapes to make new or bigger shapes.
  • Making comparisons between objects: taller than, smaller than.
  • Measuring things first with measures such as string or strips of paper and then with measures such as rulers, scales, and measuring cups. Discuss why we need to measure things.
  • Arranging groups of objects according to size—from largest to smallest.
  • Teaching them to copy patterns and to predict what will come next.
  • Matching objects that are alike.
  • Describing similarities and differences among objects.
  • Sorting objects into groups by a given feature (the same color, the same shape) or by class (animals, cars, buildings). Discuss why the groups of objects are the same.

What an Effective preschool teachers should do:

  • Know when children can figure out new ideas and concepts on their own and when it is important to explain things to them step-by-step.
  • Encourage children to participate in classroom activities and to honor the classroom rules.
  • Listen to what the children say and expand upon their language, building their vocabulary and background knowledge.
  • Know when to teach directly, when to provide time for exploration and discovery, when to practice skills, and when to encourage creativity.
  • Plan activities that have a purpose and that challenge children.
  • Know how to help children learn to work together and to resolve their conflicts.
  • Encourage children to respect each other’s time and personal belongings.
  • Provide many opportunities for conversations between and among children and with adults.
  • Know how to establish and maintain order in a classroom but in a manner that permits the children to learn how to participate in and enjoy learning.
  • Arrange the classroom in a way that enhances their work with children and how the children spend their time.

Adopted from Teach our Youngest training manual that was prepared by Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.