Parents often wonder if three years old is too young for a child to begin an organized preschool program. My answer is always the same, no, three years of age is not too soon for a child to start learning. Children are actually involved in a very formal learning experience from the time they become aware of the outside world as an infant. Children learn to understand language all by themselves, a task much harder than learning math or reading.
As parents, we guide our children and teach them sounds but the real work is done by them. Before children can be told that we are trying to teach them something, they have to learn that the funny sounds Mommy is making mean something. The infant’s mind before language is a mind full of wonderful sounds, shapes, colours and movement – sensations but no words. It is not by accident that children discover that those sounds have actual meaning; it is because they have been learning.
Their learning experience is far more structured than any teacher or program could ever be. Their minds are incredible! Kids relentlessly try to understand their world by creating categories and rules for experiences and things. Then they try to apply these categories against real life and then, just as relentlessly, create new categories and rules if the old ones fail.
Think about a baby in the kitchen endlessly arranging pots and pans. First they try to fit the big ones into the little ones, an attempt at creating a category – you can put things in other things. Once they discover that the big pot won’t fit into the little one no matter how many times you try or how hard you bang it, they may try the reverse and it works! After much repetition, the child will create a category or rule that works all the time and may even be applied somewhere else! Kids soon learn that it is important to find these big rules – ones that work for more than just one occurrence.
Little Readers is designed to allow children to further investigate their universe, that leads them toward greater understanding by helping them to develop new thinking and exploring skills and that ultimately teaches skills such as reading, math, a second language, music, movement, and more, can only be a positive experience for a young child.
John Holt, an education researcher and author said that the difference between good teaching and poor teaching is the difference between being responsive and being intrusive. With that in mind, our Little Readers program was designed to be responsive rather than intrusive by applying the concepts of cognitive development and interactive coaching. By giving kids the tools of discovery, showing them how to use these tools but not forcing them to do so and by respecting the learning speed and style of each individual, we are able to work individually with each child. That is what interactive coaching means – to interact only when it is appropriate and to offer clues that the child can use to move to higher or deeper understanding. Never to tell or demand passive memorization!
Oxford Learning offers programs for children from 3 years old through university. Our goal is to give students the skills they need to be successful in school and in life. Oxford Learning has locations in Halifax, Hammonds Plains and Bedford. For more information about our programs and services, visit us at www.oxfordlearning.com