I heard in the news recently a discussion around the need to improve education for pre-school children. Opinion seems to be split; some believe that 'children should be children and be allowed to play; they grow up too quickly already', whilst the other camp is all about education from as early an age as possible. I believe that both camps have valid points... so maybe there is a half way house or even better, a half way hotel that is the best of both worlds!
I attended a seminar last week at the London Book Fair where the power of the picture book was being discussed as a great way to help children learn. Reading the words can improve literacy skills; however, we need to ‘read’ the pictures as well. The simple act of asking the child about the expressions on a character's face for example, and what they might be feeling (happy, sad etc.) can help with a child’s social skills and empathy. You can look for elements within the book that could help them with their numeracy skills (counting the number of items on a page) or you could ask them what they think might happen next (creativity). With ‘The Cloudosaurus Rex’ for example, they can learn the days of the week, you could ask them what shapes they can see in the clouds, helping grow their imagination and they can practise their coordination as they join in with the actions to the rhyming verse.
So, do we need more structured learning system in preschools? Or could the answer include exploring the use of existing resources more effectively? Maybe having fun with a good picture book, which can also help children to develop a love of reading, is the mid-way hotel between the two camps!
For more information on Emma R McNally's rhyming picture books and supporting activity sheets, please visit http://www.haroldhuxley.co.uk/#!books/kv5h2.