What I know about child/adolescent development and how my current knowledge of development impacts my philosophy of instruction.
I have never actually studied and or taken classes on childhood development, but have spent a large part of my career observing and working in an educational environment where I must evaluate and assess the impact of childhood development stages and how it directly relates to lesson planning, scheduling, teaching and classroom management. Here is a list of some observation I have made over the years:
- Children are influenced by their home, community and cultural environment.
- Children develop in predictable stages, but not necessarily at the same pace as their peers.
- Children can be instructed and taught through teacher-guided instruction.
- Children learn differently from one another.
- Children develop confidence through peer, teacher, and parent approval.
- Often children are influenced by their peers and therefore feel more comfortable working in group settings.
- Children move from being dependent on others (such as a parent or teacher) to becoming independent individuals.
- Children move from not having responsibility to taking responsibility for not only their actions, but also their emotions.
- Children become aware of their surroundings and how to appropriately respond to their surrounding, for example, in the classroom you use and in door voice.
- Children increasingly become accountable for their actions.
My current knowledge of child/adolescent development directly influenced the way I structured a bi-lingual kindergarten in Western China. The following excerpt is taken from the Parent Handbook I designed in 2013. Please note that names and places have been taken out for security reasons.
At *** Kindergarten our philosophy of learning is grounded in a loving, positive atmosphere. We create a warm and happy place for pre-school and kindergarten students to learn. As we bridge the gap from home to school, we aim to guide children toward a good self-image while building important social skills in a school setting. Our goal is to help each child develop confidence in order to make a healthy transition into school.
*** Kindergarten is the only bilingual kindergarten in *** offering both foreign and local preschool instructors. Each of our foreign teachers is qualified to teach English and have experience with early childhood education and development. Our goal is to serve the local *** community and foreign community alike by offering a Chinese / English learning environment. The format of classes is designed to help integrate and promote both languages in a fun learning environment. We have a wonderful staff made up of Chinese local and foreign pre-school teachers. Please understand that learning a second language will not occur quickly, but with consistency and practice will develop throughout the semester.
Sensory, motor, perceptual, and language skills are introduced through both child-centered and teacher-directed activities. Assignments are planned which emphasize the process rather than the product, fostering a child’s sense of accomplishment and pride. Based on the theory that children learn through play, classroom routines encourage active involvement, meaningful experimentation and reinforcement through repetition.
Schedules are designed which balance structure and free choice, as well as active and quiet times. Recognizing that children grow in predictable stages, we treat each child as an individual, working from the level each child has attained and moving forward one step at a time. We teach a love of learning by allowing children to experience their own stage of development and helping them feel successful without pressure.