Five Thoughts about Teaching Children
Lucy Crichton graduated in Classical Theatre, Art, Design and TEFL. She is a teacher, trainer and storyteller who has given lectures and workshops in Latin America and Europe. She is the author of primary books and components for publishing companies in Brazil, Argentina, the UK, and the USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This short article will try to capture what I consider to be some of the simple ingredients for us to consider if we want to teach children.
First, it should be a choice! When we choose to work with education, it’s important to constantly remember why we chose this path and where we want to take it. Often our life paths push challenges in front of us, like teaching children for the first time having only taught teens or adults. If this is so, then we should start reading as much as possible about childhood development and how children learn a new language. Deeper than this, our driving thoughts and questions are essential as we grow in our profession, and learning to think flexibly will help us to keep updated and connected to our students.
Start by asking yourself some questions:
- How much do you know about the inner workings of the child?
- Does the school where you work, reflect your own inner values?
- Is there a teacher support system in your school?
- Is your classroom space adequate for the job? Would you add or change anything? What does the environment say about the children who will study in it?
Even though we all hold deep beliefs about how to educate children, we still need to remain open to new approaches. Working with children not only requires a great deal of energy but also an inner eye on the way that we present ourselves to our students every day in class. Our words, our gestures, our tone of voice, the clothes we wear, the agility of our bodies to sit on the floor with the little ones etc. will all influence the way they see, accept and believe in us. Our set of beliefs will have an overwhelming effect on our students’ progress.
Childhood is from 0 to 21, but why does it seems like we are always hurrying childhood? According to Betty Staley, author of the book Between Form and Freedom, the first three seven year cycles in a child’s life have specific characteristics when it comes to learning.
- From 0 to 7 - The child thinks through doing and learns through imitation.
Imitation is a driving force in the young child’s life, so the behaviour we want to see in our students, starts with the teacher.
- 7 to 14 - The child thinks in pictures and learns through feelings
The next seven years are dominated by emotions, so when a child is not properly considered, understood or heard; they can feel very detached and empty.
- 14 to 21 - The young person thinks conceptually and learns through intellect.
Teenagers thrive when we show them we really know our subject and when what we are teaching them, is connected to their world.
Understanding the deeper developmental systems of childhood may help us avoid wasting time teaching seven year olds about the vast solar system when they don’t even know the distance between school and home! Instead, we will be able to tap into the ‘perfect’ learning moments when subject, emotional age and interest are securely tied together.
As teachers, it’s imperative that we delve deeper into childhood development as a whole, mind, body and soul, not only focusing on the cognitive.
Free play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning about real life, but sadly, it is becoming increasingly difficult for children to play freely without the feeling that the play must involve some kind of immediate knowledge.
What parents and teachers really need to do is to stimulate a sense of awe and wonderment for the world and what surrounds us, and not a mechanical, objective, analytical reality. Opportunities for children to play outside, to take off their shoes and socks, to feel the earth beneath their feet, to dig in the sand, to watch the rain, to run and play, should be a regular part of any school curriculum and be as equally important as other subjects.
As parents and teachers, our task is to become loving authorities for the growing child, sharing both a true picture of the world and a sense of our own inner striving.
Our deeper sensibility and the love and dedication that we show our young students will inevitably continue to circulate back to us repeatedly throughout our career.
Staley, Betty; Between Form and Freedom, published by Hawthorn Press, Gloucestershire, UK. First edition 1988. Second edition 2009. Third edition 2011
Elkind, David. 2001 (third edition). The Hurried Child. Published by Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, USA.
Palmer, Sue. 2007 Detoxing Childhood. Published by Orion books, London, UK.
Lievegoed CJ Bernard 2003 Phases of Childhood Published by Floris Books, UK
Arnold, Johann Christoph, Their Name is Today, published by CPI Group, UK
Please check the Methodology and Language for Kindergarten course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Methodology and Language for Primary course at Pilgrims website.
Making a Book
Andrew Wright, Hungary
Five Thoughts about Teaching Children
Lucy Crichton, Brazil