So, my oldest son will be entering kindergarten this fall, and it has really gotten me thinking as I look at education and conferences like ISTE. There are unbelievable teachers out there doing incredible things with their students, but sometimes it becomes very easy to dismiss ideas, pedagogy, and concepts as being "too advanced" or "too difficult" for the little ones. I have to say: they deserve better than that; my son deserves better than that.
So, true story. A month before my son turned two we went to a local, minor league baseball game, and it started to rain and I mean... really rain. My son turns to me in the stands as the rain starts to come down and say, "Mom, this is a deluge! You can't play baseball in a deluge." The person behind me had this audibly shocked reaction. I understand, but at the same time I don't. That's just the way we talk to Gabe. We don't dummy it down and say, "oh, it's raining really, really, really hard;"; instead, we just use the actual word.
At his preschool awards, Gabe got the Scientific Knowledge Award; I know, totally not a huge deal. But as the teacher spoke, I learned things I didn't know before. When Gabe asks us a question about something, we find the real answer and share it with him. I guess he had been imparting those tidbits of knowledge to his classmates and his teacher. What is lightning? Well, according to Gabe, lightning is electricity coming down from the clouds as the atoms move faster and faster and hit together.
I don't give these examples to say that Gabe is an anomaly and is super bright (although I am his mom, so mom perspective always makes your kid number 1). I say this because far too often I see teachers, administrators, and stakeholders underestimating the abilities of primary students.
Talk to them with the real words, the real language we use. Let them explore their questions and find the true answers. Lightning isn't magic in the sky as one of my good friends who is a science teachers said, so why let them think that? Their brains are sponges; if you share, show, nurture, and guide, even our little ones are capable of so much more than we so often give them credit for.
Don't stifle their creativity or their quest for knowledge; feed that thirst and let it grow. It made me more sad than words could ever describe when my son came home from preschool in January to tell me that he was "so bored." I know he loves learning and he love sharing his knowledge with those around him, so this broke my heart.
Bottom line: don't underestimate the little ones. Please tell my kid the real reason for something and let him show you he can understand it. Please teach my kid the precise word and don't let him heehaw around it with a ton of verys or reallys. Please let my kid create and show you what he knows and what he can do.
I promise that if we don't underestimate our primary kiddos, we will see unbelievable learning taking place.
Don't underestimate them; they deserve better!