…one of the prime guidelines for conversations with young children: Never ask a question you know the answer to.
We know that language is the key to all other kinds of content learning. Yet we often deny children the opportunity to question, disagree, conjecture, or play with language in a way that builds their communication skills and vocabulary.
While some children seem to acquire a range of skills without systematic instruction, most children benefit from individualized instruction and assistance with building specific skills. Katz and Chard (1989) suggest that in recent years many teachers of young children have taken a hands-off approach to skill building because they confuse systematic instruction (teaching individual children a progression of skills that contribute to greater proficiency) with direct instruction (teaching the same skills at the same time in the same way to a whole class).
Teachers develop divergent thinking skills by asking open-ended questions like these: • What do you think? • What would happen if . . . ? • What else could you do? • What could you do to fix it? • How could you help her understand?
Children are left confused or…at risk when we do not provide the adult supervision and directives necessary to keep them informed and safe.
Too often we allow ourselves to get caught in the pace of day-to-day life with children and not take the time to make interesting conversation with them or nurture it among them. We hurry from planned event to planned event without enough time to process what, why, or how we are doing what we do.
…the wonder children bring to our classrooms can be snuffed out when we focus solely on our plan for children’s learning rather than carefully listening to the children and following their conversational lead.
Young children push, hit, and grab at each other because they are still learning to get what they need and want. Their language skills are rudimentary. They have strong feelings. When their passionate needs are thwarted by us or a peer, they experience intense anger and don’t yet know what to do with it.
Most teachers claim it has never been harder to manage children’s daily interactions with the environment and each other. One of the things that nourish this ever-present challenge is the tendency to mistake developmental or educational issues for behavioral problems. Too often teachers think of children as misbehaving when they are simply behaving as best they can with the information available to them.
…children need opportunities to think and ponder in order to learn. They need time to question and experiment. Yet frequently we prod children who are “doing nothing” into finding something constructive to do with themselves.
Teachers love the word consistency, and nowhere is it more consistently applied than the area of child guidance. Yet children have different temperaments, personalities, and developmental needs. The same behavior does not necessarily mean the same thing when it is engaged in by different children.
Teachers must take seriously the task of giving children tools for managing their day-to-day interactions with others.