Singing English

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The video footage was great!

"I liked learning new songs, learning new ways to present and meeting others in the field. The video footage was great.! Thank you so much. Amazingly well prepared. All pre-primary, primary teachers should know about this. The workshop has helped me become more comfortable with singing. I can honestly say that this was one of the most enjoyable workshops I have taken."

Ginny Mendel, Program Facilitator, Eastern Shore Family Resource Association, NS



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Redefining Why We Do What We Do

Two more Canadian provinces,PEI and BC, have now moved to full day Kindergarten. I have recently been researching preschools for when my daughter turns 3. Both of these events have caused me to re-examine my own early childhood education philosophy. I find it fascinating the difference between the centers that I have visited. Some are all free play with no structured literacy or music time, while others I feel offer a curriculum very similar to that of grade one; and this is only preschool!

It seems that there is an increasing focus on early literacy acquisition skills. Of course I obviously believe in early literacy but with two important considerations. Firstly, early literacy must be developmentally appropriate and secondly it needs to be fun and explored through music and movement. And this is what Singing English Education is all about.

How early is too early?

Recent research shows that the language center in the left hemisphere of the brain doesn't form in most children until they are between the ages of seven and nine and that it is often later for boys than girls. Boys Adrift, Leonard Sax, MD, Ph.D., 2007. This research suggests that teaching children to read before this age can sometimes cause problems in spelling and reading comprehension. Research also suggests that the part of the brain that allows the language centers in each half to communicate with each other also needs to be developed in order to complete a task.

In her article, How to Determine if Your Child is Ready for Kindergarten, Renee Lannan refers to research that shows that if children are taught to read before both hemispheres of the brain are both contributing to the act of reading, the brain adapts, creating shortcuts that could later effect how their literacy skills develop. Susan Johnson, a pediatrician and certified Waldorf educator, recommends using this indicator to determine your child's readiness for kindergarten: "If a child can move her opposite arm and leg at the same time, then the right and left hemispheres of her brain are communicating with each other."

How can we ensure early literacy is developmentally appropriate?

First of all, as early childhood educators we have to ask ourselves if our language programs are fun, and filled with movement and music.

Singing English activities such as Bumpety Yellow Bus, where children are exploring the stressed syllable in their name and Dotting, a Singing English technique where students explore how the symbols they create on paper have a sound value, while having fun tracking and tracing the sound of the symbols they have created, ensure that young children are being exposed to early literacy skills that are both fun and developmentally appropriate.

There is new research developing every day. Here are three articles and a video that might help you re-define your own teaching philosophy. They may challenge what you currently believe about early childhood education and help you choose to participate in professional development opportunities that challenge you professionally. I believe it is important as educators to take time to read new research, learn new techniques and regularly redefine our teaching philosophy -why we do what we do.

Articles by Renee Lannan:
Are Schools Expecting Our Kids to Read Too Early?

Problems Arise When Children are Pushed to Read Too Early

How to Determine If Your Child is Ready to Begin Kindergarten

How Do They Do It In Sweden?