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Running head: DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 1 Personal Learning Philosophy for Early Childhood Mary Grace Jones Grand Canyon University ECH 520: Foundations of Early Childhood Professor Sarah Lewis February 2, 2012
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 2 Personal Learning Philosophy for Early Childhood Learning theory concepts have been researched and studied throughout the course; aswe read about theorist as Piaget, Vytgotsky, Skinner, Gesell, and many more we find ourselvesevaluating our own learning theories and critiquing our teaching practice and measuring ourperformance and outcome by great men and women who have made lifetime commitments to thestudy of Early Childhood Education. Some of the theories of learning such as constructivism, behaviorism, and MultipleIntelligences, are drawn from to create the optimal environment for young learners. The socialconstructivist theory learning is explained as a “… complex interaction of interdependent socialand individual processes that co-construct knowledge.” (Petton, 2010) In comparison, cognitiveconstructivism and behaviorism expands the learners’ knowledge to include the social settingwhere the learner is constructing new knowledge and the social setting of building on priorknowledge. (Petton, 2010) The theory of Multiple Intelligences was developed by HowardGardner, in which learning is described as involving an interdependent functioning of multipleintelligences that accounts for all aspects of human cognitive development. also in this theory thelearner is seen as an active participant in their own learning. (Petton, 2010) I believe that children are active participants in their own learning; my role as an educatoris to facilitate, nurture, and guide the child in his or her development, create an environment withlearning activities that invite the interests of the child, validates his present knowledge, andcontinue to build on that knowledge, creating more challenging activities based on thedevelopmental level and progress of each child. When a teacher in the early childhoodclassroom aid and support the child in their own discovery and initiative, this concept is calledthe zone of proximal development; this allows the child to problem solve in situations that he or
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 3she is attracted to and one that holds the child’s attention, but is not so difficult the child cannotnot solve; being so, the role of the teacher is to set up activities that are just beyond the child’sabilities and then guide and support the student to come to a solution with minimal help from theteacher. (Petton, 2010) Jean Piaget one of the most famous theorist divided the development ofchildren between birth and late adolescence into four stages; Piaget’s theory is characterized bythe gradual maturation with the ability to reason and deal with abstract relationships. (Strickland,Bonnie; The Gale Ecyclopedia of Psychology, 2001) He further believed that as the child interactwith the environment, their inborn tendency for organization prepares them to create and ordermental schemes (Schemas) about their experiences. (In Ecyclopaedic Dictionary of Psychology,2001)Herein when we compare Vygotsky and Piaget the concept of nature/nurture arepredisposed. The nature and nurture concepts describes the role of hereditary and environmentin human development; (Powell, 2010) going as far back as 13th century France. Scientistsbelieve that the nature theory is caused by genetic predispositions or “animal instincts.” Otherscientists believed that people act as they do because they have been taught to do so; this is thenurture theory. (Powell, 2010) Nature says that the child’s behavior is inborn; nurture says it isbased on environmental conditions and supports that influence the child’s development (Cook &Cook). Nurture consists of other elements such as the child’s economic and socioculturalenvironment and the child’s dependency to have basic needs met. If there is inadequate supply tomeet the child’s needs the child’s development may be negatively altered; whereas culturalheritage and diversity can enrich a child’s life and have a positive effect on the child’sdevelopment causing the child to thrive in an environment with far more resources.“Poverty,malnutrition, and a lack of medical care…” are elements which alter the child’s developmentalpath. (Cook & Cook) When children enter our classroom, as educators we must allow time for
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 4the child to adjust to the learning environment and as we get to know each child we are toembrace their differences, accentuate their uniqueness in a positive way, and invite their cultureand diversity they bring to the class as a whole. As an early childhood educator part of the role asan educator includes being an advocate for children. There are ways we can implement into ourteaching practice, advocacy strategies to respond to and meet the needs of children and theirfamilies and to address issues within the scope of our calling. Early childhood educators mayadvocate for children through personal, public, or private-sector advocacy. Personal advocacy issharing our personal views with others. Public advocacy involves advocate activity in publicpolicy issues that affect children; and demand that public regulations, laws, policies, andprograms support young children and families in appropriate ways. Writing letters to State andNational legislators is one way to perform public advocacy. Lastly, twoways private-sectoradvocacy are helping businesses develop family friendly work policies and challenging toymanufacturers who make violent toys. My role as an advocate is to be a “voice” for those whosevoices are least heard; or never heard at all. Advocacy provides a pathway to success andcontributions of educators make the difference in the lives of children and their families. Teaching children from birth to grade three means facing the challenges of growth anddevelopment, accepting the diverse backgrounds and culture of individual children, embracingfamily values, and providing developmentally appropriate learning in an environment that iscomplimentary to the child’s learning and development; while teachers are under pressure toprove that their teaching practice is effective and students are meeting achievement goals, it ischallenging to keep a positive attitude and not overwhelm students by high expectations andallow ourselves as educators to become frustrated. Teaching and learning for this age groupmeans teachers find support in each other to face the challenges of providing academic
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 5achievement and providing developmentally appropriate experiences in the classroom.(McDaniel, Isaac, Brooks, & Hath, 2005) In a society where the economy is struggling, teachersare losing their jobs, and the achievement expectations and demands of accountability; theplaying field has become highly competitive and those with degrees but not the skills andexperience are least tolerated; and as a result they feel even more threatened. It is more importantthan ever to continue to strive for excellence and be professional; our focus must be in the bestinterest of the children. We keep an open mind when we embrace the affirmation “all children can learn.” Aseducators of young children we understand children learn at their own pace depending uponwhere they are developmentally, thismay callfor customized methods of teaching unique to theindividual child, or we may find some children may be slower than other children their age.When we look at a child and determine that child is capable of learning, we avoid the possibilityof impeding their growth and learning and instead find strategies and implement activities thatnurture their development.“Scholars have identified developmental patterns and bench marks yetacknowledge that there is individual variation in patterns and timing of growth.” (Dever &Falconer, 2008) Using key assessment practices educators are better equipped to meet theinstructional and developmental needs of all children; they will be able to recognize thedevelopmental patterns unique to each child.The primary purpose of assessment is to informinstruction and curriculum development; developmentally appropriate assessment uses multiplemeasures over time, is ongoing, and is authentic. (Dever & Falconer, 2008) Authenticassessment means collecting data from various sources that is primarily drawn from children’sdaily learning activities; an informal check to determine children’s progress and learning needs.(Dever & Falconer, 2008) There are several ways to collect data; (1) through observations, (2)
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 6anecdotal notes, (3) field notes, (4) Photos, (5) journals, and (6) audio recordings. All aredesigned to inform teaching and planning for children’s learning experiences. Technology in the classroom is designed to support teachers and help them be moresuccessful; however, in the proper context quality teaching yet requires the insight of highlyqualified teachers into the children’s cognitive abilities and emotional needs; children aredependent upon the care and guidance of their teachers who are knowledgeable in their work.(Sherman, Diana; Kleiman, Glenn; Peterson, Kirsten, 2004) Guidelines for using technology should be aligned with developmentally appropriatepractice and based on the learning needs of all children. Technology plays an important role inthe lives of families; for the future we will see an increase in its significance. “As technologybecomes easier to use and early childhood software proliferates, young children’s use oftechnology becomes more widespread.” (NAEYC, 1996) The role of technology is not to“…replace highly valued early childhood activities and materials, such as art, blocks, sand,water, books, exploration with writing materials, and dramatic play…technology used indevelopmentally appropriate ways is beneficial to children…” (NAEYC, 1996) In like manner,caution should be taken against its misuse in any setting. Teachers must take the responsibility ofmaking professional judgment and appropriately evaluate technology use whether it isdevelopmentally, individually, and culturally appropriate. What we as educators value and believe are on display in the learning environment forchildren; we must endeavor to give children a well-rounded learning environment that isinteresting to them and motivate them to learn and play. When parents and others step into theenvironment they should see each area as child friendly and accessible to children; theenvironment supports the child’s learning; for example, Alphabet cards line the wall, children’s
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 7artwork is on display, learning centers are set up to encourage exploration and engagement oflearners. The elements of the environments indoor, outdoor, inclusive, and technology shouldwork to support teaching and learning; the influence of the environment on learning and teachingshould not be undervalued. High-quality early childhood environments are child-centered.(Dever & Falconer, 2008) All environments must be compatible with the learners’developmental needs to “…foster growth and development through positive learningexperiences.” (Dever & Falconer, 2008) Aspects of the environment must include “…safety,health and wellbeing, compatibility of activities, engaging materials, and compatibility forchildren.” (Dever & Falconer, 2008) Equipment should be in good repair, not damaged, broken,or otherwise unsafe to use; cleaning supplies should be stored securely out of reach of children.A daily schedule should be established for routines and times so children will know or expectwhat comes next. Resource provides a checklist for child-centered environment for children ages3-8.Children can choose many of their activities.✔ Activities are hands-on and foster higher-order thinking.✔ Activities are personally relevant to the children’s lives.✔Diverse interests and needs are accommodated.✔ Oral and print literacy activities are integrated throughout the day.✔ Children read and are read to daily.✔ Activities are purposeful. (e.g., writing/dictating thank-you notes to aClass guest, calculating for a purpose).✔ Appropriate problem-solving is fostered.✔ Technology is integrated in developmentally appropriate ways. (e.g., word
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 8processing calculators).✔ Drama, movement, music, poetry are integrated throughout the day.✔ Children frequently work in small groups.✔ A variety of assessment measures are used (e.g., observation, interviews,artifacts).✔ Parents are involved in ways that are comfortable for them.✔ Living things are present in the environment. (Dever & Falconer, 2008) Going forward, we have examined how ideas, beliefs, and perspectives influence andshape the way we teach and learn. The principles we adopt will demonstrate whether or not ourteaching practice is guided by principles that are developmentally appropriate and isdemonstrated in the learning environments we create for children kindergarten through grade 3.We also understand as educators, the environment for infants and toddlers will be compatible fortheir age and as children grow and get more mature from preschool to primary age their growthand development are significantly different and require different and more measurableapproaches to learning. All children can learn all children are socially and emotionallycompetent, all children have potential and are eager to learn; as a teacher of young children it ismy goal to foster such that all children will have opportunities to learn, to grow, and achieve.
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 9 Works CitedCook, J., & Cook, G. (n.d.). What Drives Development? Nature, Nurture, and Reciprocal Relationships . Retrieved December 4, 2011, from Education.com: http://www.education.com/reference/article/what-drives-development-nature-nurture/Dever, M. T., & Falconer, R. C. (2008). Foundations and Change of Early Childhood (1 ed.). (C. T. Johnson, Ed.) Hoboken, New Jersey, United States: Jay O Callaghan.In Ecyclopaedic Dictionary of Psychology. (2001). Cognitive Development. Retrieved October 1, 2011, from Grand Canyon University; Credo Reference: http://www.credoreference.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/entry/hodderdpsyc/cognitive_devel opmentMcDaniel, G. L., Isaac, M. Y., Brooks, H. M., & Hath, A. (2005, March). Confronting K-3 Teaching Challenges in an Era of Accountability. Retrieved February 4, 2012, from www.naeyc.com: http://cstl-coe.semo.edu/jaray/Confronting%20K- 3%20Teaching%20Challenges%20in%20an%20Era%20of%20Accountability.pdfNAEYC. (1996, April). Technology and Young Children. Retrieved January 28, 2012, from The National Association for the Education of Young Children: http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PSTECH98.PDFPetton, N. (2010). Learning Theories in the Early Childhood Classroom. Retrieved February 4, 2012, from Nick Petton Website: http://www.nickpetten.com/2010/10/learning-theories- in-the-early-childhood-classroom/Powell, K. (2010, July 19th). Nature Vs. Nurture: Are we Really Born That Way? Retrieved December 4, 2011, from About.com: http://genealogy.about.com/cs/geneticgenealogy/a/nature_nurture.htm
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY 10Sherman, Diana; Kleiman, Glenn; Peterson, Kirsten. (2004). Technology and Teaching Children to Read. Northeast and Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium and Education Development Center.Strickland, Bonnie; The Gale Ecyclopedia of Psychology. (2001). Gale Virtual Reference Library. Retrieved October 1, 2011, from Gale Cengage Learning: http://go.galegroup.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sor t=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=canyonuniv&tabID=T0 03&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=Basi cSearchForm¤tPosition=2&co