3 Ways To Help Preschool Teachers Enhance Effective Communication
Stepping back into pre-school is like stepping back in time…One will never forget the colourful charts pasted on the walls, the customized furniture and of course, the chirping sounds from the kids.
During this year’s national day rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Government would double its annual spending on pre-school education within the next five years. More significantly, he emphasized the importance of having an education prior to primary schools – to start them off early on a winning note.
This is not surprising as pre-schools represent the window of opportunity for kids to build self-confidence, learn social skills and develop different faculties.
Yet we know different kids learn differently.
In this blog post, I would like to share 3 ways to help preschool teachers enhance better communication with the young ones.
Tip #1: Using The Right Modality
People are unique creatures. We see things differently, we process information differently, we learn differently. That is why while some of us see a glass as full, others view it as half full.
It all boils down to our perception of the world around us and which of our five senses we choose to deploy in any particular circumstance.
I love Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) because it helps us understand each other better. There is a NLP tenet which I always share with my participants in communication workshops and it is this – representation systems.
We perceive the external world using a particular representation system. This is duplicated in our inner world. The five illustrations of representation systems are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory.
Almost all of us choose to use a pre-determined mode of representation system when perceiving and processing information. In short, the message is processed differently in all of us.
Do we see the image? Or hear the words? Or feel the emotions?
Children learn using different modalities. They take in the information through their ears (auditory), eyes (visual), touch (tactile) and body movements (kinesthetic). While some do best with information they hear, others may find it easier to learn by seeing something.
In a particular instant, when they are reading from their storybooks or repeating after their preschool teachers, they are using their auditory representational system. In another instant, when they are describing the properties of a ball, they are “seeing” it visually in their minds and describing the shape, colour, size or texture of it.
The message is essentially the same. But the way we decipher and react to it differs according to the modality we choose to use.
Allow children to use their preferred mode of communication initially – whether it is touching, seeing, hearing or movement. Then encourage them to explore their other modes of communication. When we engage in multi-sensory learning, children understand there are multiple ways to learn and ultimately, all the various ways are in fact inter-related. You cannot segregate the senses. Instead, this sensory integration technique aids in reinforcing the child’s learning.
Tip #2: Explore Thematic Based Learning
As the saying goes, there is “method in the madness”. Indeed.
I am a strong proponent of thematic based learning. After all, any form of learning is always integrated with other related areas and never done in isolation.
Simply put, thematic based learning involves connecting different areas of curriculum and integrating them using a theme.
By employing a variety of methods ranging from role play, group activities, learning journeys, repetitions and imagination, preschool teachers I have spoken to share that this aids literacy in kids to help them grow their vocabulary and more importantly, be more actively involved in learning.
One of the best examples I share is the four seasons (ok, I know Singapore does not have four seasons but…).
Using the thematic approach, let’s talk about summer.
Summer starts with ‘S’.
Summer is the season with the longest and warmest days of the year.
Summer occurs because of the way the Earth is tilted towards the sun.
Summer is when many crops are grown. Plants typically grow best in the summer months when they receive most sunlight.
Most animals are active in the summer and they start breeding. Others like the squirrel, begin to gather nuts for the winter.
When summer comes, people tend to wear lighter, cooler clothes as the weather can get very hot. The colours tend to be more pastel or faded.
Because the weather is hot, some love to head to the beach to tan.
The leaves turn colour from vivid green to cooler green.
Once every four years, we have the Summer Olympic Games hosted by a different country. This sport event also sees athletes from different countries come together to compete to be crowned the world’s best.
I’ve just done a simple illustration using “Summer”.
Tip #3: Make The Information Sticky
We often choose what to focus on. Bombarded with information of all sorts, we filter and internally decide how to orient our attention selectively.
Here are three ways I will use (if I were a pre-school teacher) to make the information sticky so that my kids will learn faster and better:
• Promote Learning, Not Teaching. When I teach, it is one way. You either accept it or don’t. But when I let you learn, you realise there are many interpretations and the world suddenly becomes so vast and boundless.
• Promote Edutainment, Not Education. The last thing I would want is to be educated. Yet I wouldn’t mind being edutained. Edutainment is when we dramatize something or role play. Children love to pretend they are heroes with magical powers. They love to make something bigger than life. Through edutainment, the message is communicated more effectively.
• Ask Questions. Questions hook the mind. Get the kids to tell you in their own ways what happened…because if they have internalized the sharing earlier, they will be able to feed it back to you.
As educators, let’s make it our business to engage in effective communication today!