Challenging Current Traditional Pedagogy in Early Childhood Education: What is the Alternative?

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As a pre-kindergarten teacher, I am familiar with finding creative ways to teach core subjects and content in my classroom. Without creativity, the children in my class are not engaged in their schoolwork.

My workplace allows me to use their curriculum practice pedagogies that are different from current traditional pedagogy, such as learning through play and technology education. These educational philosophies positively impact children as they prepare for their future years in school, which represents why alternatives to what has been known as the normal pedagogy are beneficial to students and their education.

Growing up, I was taught current traditional pedagogy. I had to repeatedly write the standard five-paragraph essay- an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. My introduction paragraph had to have a thesis at the end, which listed my three main points, which would each be discussed in the body paragraphs. Each body paragraph had its own specific source. My conclusion paragraph had to summarize my points and reword the thesis statement.

It was a robotic process with minimal originality. Students of today have to memorize certain rules and model them constantly in their writing in order to receive passing grades.

Even as I started college, my first English course echoed these ideas but delved much deeper into them. I learned more rules, such as not to use “I” in any academic writing and how I had to only write using active voice, not passive voice.

I failed my first paper, which came as a shock to me because, in high school, I understood the rules perfectly. I consistently received high grades on my writing assignments due to how successful I was in following the strict rules I was taught. Now, all of these other rules were introduced, and that challenged my writing skills. I pushed myself to learn the new rules and by the end of the course, I was getting high grades again.

In my free time, I write in my journal often, and this is how I prefer to write- privately, so I do not have to follow any rules. I find myself dreading having to write papers for some of my classes because there is pressure to do exactly what I am supposed to do for the assignment and nothing more- no creativity, just following all of the rules.

When I write from my heart, that is when I enjoy being a writer, and I wish school would be more from other pedagogies, besides the current traditional pedagogy. As a teacher, I intend to differentiate my instruction to incorporate new ideas into it so that my students can receive the kind of education I never had the chance to have.

Different pedagogies can enhance education, especially for students who are starting their first year of school. Many of the children who have their first day in my classroom have no desire to learn.

I work at a child care center and their primary approach to education is learning through play. Out of my 25 students, all of them love free play. On the other hand, when it is time to do a worksheet, nearly all of them groan and some of them refuse to sit at their desk to complete their work. Certain students consistently go home at the end of the day with incomplete work.

In order to counteract the lack of interest in learning that many children initially have, many early childhood educators consider learning through play to be educational as well. Essentially, the concept of learning through play highlights the different educational opportunities that play provides.

For example, when a child is playing with building blocks, they might build something that falls down. This is a learning opportunity for them to not get emotional over it and to figure out what went wrong so they can successfully build it again.

Another example is when two children are playing and one child snatches a toy from the other child. This is a learning opportunity to teach the children how to share and communicate with one another by asking for a turn with the toy. In both of these examples, there is a conflict that the children figure out how to resolve.

Learning through play, especially as natural conflicts occur, teaches children long-long skills such as perseverance, problem-solving, fairness, and respectfulness. Furthermore, children learn self-regulation as they need to monitor themselves to a certain extent.

Additionally, children have the freedom to explore, express themselves, and choose what they want to play, while caregivers provide them with the necessary resources. Learning through play naturally provides children with educational opportunities and improves their first year of school, which enhances their future education.

Technology education is a necessary part of school nowadays, especially as the world becomes more reliant on technology. Computer literacy is nearly as essential as reading and writing now so there have to be ways to incorporate technology into the curriculum to allow students to succeed.

At my child care center, I let my students use the Smartboard frequently. I put on read-aloud videos, sometimes as an alternative to me reading them a book because they are more engaged in the visuals than they are when they are simply staring at me.

Also, there are a larger variety of resources available on YouTube than there are in my tiny classroom library, where the books are old and mostly ripped apart.

In addition, I put on GoNoodle videos, which allow the children to do different activities, such as breathing exercises, guided dance, how to, stretch, partner up, workout, and more. This is especially important in the winter when I cannot take them outside to play due to the weather so the children have a ton of energy to let out and GoNoodle is a safe, educational way for them to do that.

When students are able to release their excess energy, their engagement and focus improve with their academics. With both of these digital platforms, I let the students take turns and pick what videos they want to watch. This gives them control over their learning, helps them learn decision-making skills, and encourages them to find their own interests.

Introducing technology to my pre-kindergarten students is crucial because this early introduction makes it easier for them to use and talk about technology in their later school years and it creates more opportunities for deeper, well-rounded learning through combining technology with everyday learning. Overall, I see many advantages to incorporating technology into school for all ages, as a teacher and as a student.

Alternative pedagogies give students the opportunity to learn to their full potential when creativity is intertwined with academics and technology provides new ways to accomplish this. Without student engagement, a teacher could talk for hours without saying anything that makes an impact if no one is listening.

In my experience as a student, I am constantly zoning out, daydreaming, gazing out the window, and eyeing the clock, as if that will make time go faster. If a teacher can find ways to surprise students and allow them to feel like their work matters, in addition to having resources that will teach them about everything they need to know in terms of technology, then that teacher can change a student’s life.

Technology was not nearly as prominent when I was a child as it is today so I did not have that element in my education. I wish I did because I think it would have helped me learn. At home, I am always watching Netflix shows, reading blogs, and on social media so combining the digital age with my academics would have been beneficial for me.

Different pedagogies positively impact children as they prepare for their future years in school and this represents why alternatives to current traditional pedagogy are beneficial to students and their education. As a teacher, it is important for me to properly engage my students, and many of them do not benefit from the current traditional pedagogy.

In the future, I will use other pedagogies and introduce my own creative curriculum in my classroom to make the best impact I possibly can on my students and inspire a love for learning within each of them. I encourage other teachers and future teachers to tailor how they educate based on what their students need in order to learn.

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Multi-passionate creative. College student and daycare teacher. I write about education, writing, life lessons, social media, and work/work-life balance.

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Brianna Stryker

Brianna Stryker

Multi-passionate creative. College student and daycare teacher. I write about education, writing, life lessons, social media, and work/work-life balance.

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