The Tool

Helloooo everyone!  A quiet half-hour made itself temptingly available to me this afternoon, so I took advantage of it to write.  I’ve had a long absence, I know, thanks to full schedules and staying up from 7 am to 4 am (the next day!) throughout the week… but I’ve missed writing!  No deep theoretical essays today, though some of it is brewing at the back of my mind.  But we’ll save that for later.  Just wanted to write a conversational newsletter today to reinforce the biggest tool in teaching little ones.

The tool I wanted to share with you today, ironically enough (after having lost my consistency in writing newsletters!) is this: 

BE CONSISTENT!

Nothing beats consistency in the way you teach.  Children process new information much, much slower than you do old information.  And I don’t blame them for it!  They need to be given the solid facts, comfortable and straightforward, before you turn it about all directions to show them other aspects of it.

Children need familiarity.  It is a sort of security to them.  And by the way, you do too!  How would you like to wake up every morning to a different house, with different coloured walls and different furniture and different layouts?  Once in awhile it might be fun; but trust me, it will quickly lose that homey feeling that makes it home, because it lost that sense of familiarity.  Agree?

changing bedrooms everyday?

In the same way, children need a degree of familiarity when they learn.  They need to know exactly what you’re talking about, for instance, when you say “long vowels.”  Don’t forget that for children, all these terms and concepts are totally new… fresh out of the bubble wrap.  And they don’t have the words and concepts to describe and use them yet.  So anything you give them, is very new information.

Imagine seeing a new sort of animal for the first time, and trying to figure out what it’s supposed to be called.  And imagine that it’s keeper enthusiastically tells you all about it, referring to it with a different name everytime.  How confusing!  And yet, that’s what we unintentionally do to children sometimes!

When you first introduce new information, such as the even numbers or the long vowels, plan ahead of time how you will teach it.  It is like planning for a new bedroom.  Choose the colour theme.  Plan ahead of time what you want the room to look like.  In the same way, decide ahead of time on a set way of teaching the concept.  Never enter the classroom and hope that the lesson will turn out right on its own.  Preparation is key.  You need to actually plan exactly how you want your introduction of the material to come out, because you are going to be using that format in the future.

{Example} For the long vowels, I always introduce it as “the other sound that a vowel can make” (besides the short sound).  Always.  I don’t confuse them with technicalities such as the long vowel rule and exceptions to English.  Having done that, the next time I talk about long vowels, my students immediately know that I’m talking about that other sound the vowel makes besides the short sound.

See what I mean?  It’s a way of introducing new concepts and new vocabulary to them in an unthreatening way.  Try it out—be consistent when you teach.  You’ll see how it really does work!

Thank you for reading, and all the best to you!

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