Yesterday I received word that my latest book, Jump into Literacy: Active Learning for Preschool Children, has won two awards! I'm thrilled, of course, about the recognition. But more than that, I'm thrilled by the recognition that this book serves a valuable purpose!
Let me explain: With so much emphasis on academics and accountability making its way down to even the preschool level, seatwork has become more and more prevalent for the little guys. Early childhood professionals were telling me -- far too often -- "We don't have time for movement anymore; we've got all these literacy standards to meet." And, depending on the circumstances, I would either think to myself or say out loud: But you can meet those literacy standards through movement!
After all, the research shows that
- movement is the young child's preferred mode of learning.
- lessons that are physically experienced have more immediate and longer-lasting impact.
- the integration of body systems allows for optimal learning to take place.
- the more senses used in the learning process, the more information is retained.
It only makes sense, therefore, to use movement and active learning to help children understand literacy concepts. After all, when children take on the straight and curving lines of letters with their bodies or body parts, they're acquiring the spatial orientation needed to read and write letters. When children move over, under, around, through, beside, and near objects, these prepositions take on greater significance. When children perform a "slow" walk or skip "lightly," adjectives and adverbs become much more than abstract concepts. When given a chance to demonstrate the meaning of words, the words take on greater relevance for children.
Eric Jensen labels this kind of active learning implicit, like learning to ride a bike. At the opposite end of the spectrum is explicit learning, like being told the capital of Peru. Jensen asks, if you hadn't ridden a bike in five years, would you still be able to do it? And if you hadn't heard the capital of Peru for five years, would you remember it? Explicit learning may be quicker than learning through physical experience, but the latter has greater meaning for children and stays with them longer...