Today, this thought is on my mind, “Let Them Be Little.” One of the instructional coaches at my current school introduced this phrase to me. I came to Early Childhood Education after a decade-plus of working on a K-5 campus. This past year has taught me over and over the value of providing high quality schooling for our 3 and 4 year olds. I have the K-5 perspective reminding me that Kindergarten will come soon enough, with all of its academics and less developmentally appropriate practices. While our 3 and 4 year old children are in our Early Childhood Schools, let’s remember to “Let Them Be Little”. They will only be this precious age once. Their most important responsibilities at school should include playing and learning how to be a good friend.
Don’t misunderstand me, we have state provided Pre-K guidelines that we follow carefully. Our students are daily exposed to and challenged to expand their phonemic awareness, academic vocabulary and number sense, but let it be done through exploration, play, creativity, and hands-on experiences. Those are the things they will remember and carry with them as a foundation for all the academics that will come soon enough.
As early childhood educators, I believe we are obligated to design learning experiences that honor their littleness. I think about the experiences students at my school have had this year that honored their littleness and feel proud of our teachers and their commitment to this principle. Our students built a model community called Johnsonville, learned about each other’s families, participated in multiple dress up days as community helpers, fairy tale characters, and even dinosaurs, performed a Snow White reenactment, and pretended and played in centers designed to be caves, weather broadcast booths, construction zones and pumpkin patches, just to list a few. Our students also learned how to respect others, be friends, regulate their emotions and give their best efforts.
Early Childhood seems to be the final vestige of ‘Developmentally Appropriate’ instruction. Every day has the potential to be magical for a child. Let’s not lose sight of their tender age and stage as 3 and 4 year olds and pledge to “Let Them Be Little” while they are in our care and learning in our schools. They are only that way once. -Heidi
Let Them Be Little
I will let them be little
Fill their hearts with laughter
Help them grow their wings
Nurture their sense of wonder
Inspire them to believe
-poem’s author unknown