Many of the assumptions that we hold dear, mainly accepted from our past practices, need to be revisited. Challenging these assumptions is essential as our educational structures and approach are based on them. A number of critical assumptions have been proven to be false, but because our federal educational ‘control’ structure is rigid and unquestioned, we do not think to revise them accordingly. These all relate to the structure within which our children learn. This accounts for around 80% of their performance, so it is essential that we get these systemic issues (1st Quadrant) right. Some of these assumptions are:
- That our IQ is fixed. This belief, still strongly held in our class-room system, has led to the ‘fixed’ or talent mindset that Dr Dweck, Malcom Gladwell and others have proved not only wrong but detrimental to performance. “Intelligence is related to dynamic properties of cortical maturation” (IQ and Human Intelligence – N J McIntosh)
- That ‘school’ is about conceptual learning, and that small children cannot truly ‘learn’ much at all, and so are given frivolous tasks. Core skills however do not require conceptual understanding and so children can learn a number of skills very early. These include music, languages, logic, foundational facts and good learning habits.
- That a child’s mind is not capable of learning ‘too much’. A child’s brain is almost fully developed at three, and has double the amount of myelin than an adult. It is supercharged with learning capability. Thus early years are in fact the best time to develop brain power by stretching and practicing their skills in key areas. These early ‘windows of opportunity’, based on Hebb’s rule and common cognitive and neurosciences, are when the brain’s processing capability is largely defined (IQ) and when a number of core skills can be learned.
MEganize offers a broad structure for child education, however, this pre-school outline is a specific directive based on MEganize principles and process that ignore our past paradigms. Most important is the focus on the 1st Quadrant issues, namely a clear vision and set of values that are supported by the structure and culture of what and how learning progresses. The essence is ‘to begin with the end in sight’, offering basic concepts and routines that the child can discover, validate and later apply throughout and for a productive life.
As Christians, we believe that our faith and culture offers the best path for learning and social productivity. History has shown it to be the best culture. This is clearly explained in II Peter 1 “…. having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust… be wise in what is good and innocent of what is evil” (Romans 16). Our directive for learning, also from II Peter 1 is “… giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness…” These are covered in the 3,4,5 Life Maxims in MEganize.
Some of the MEganize principles are ‘less is more’, ‘know what you know’, and ‘focus on the process’. Our world faces ‘information overload’. Do not flood them with mindless ‘stuff’. We try to learn too much (crystalized intelligence) but then suffer from ‘knowledge myopia’, unable to apply or interpret knowledge productively (no convergence). It is important to allow for routine practice of learnt skills or activities in all areas. Follow a ‘best’ process to allow for convergence skills, offering ‘fluid’ intelligence and a means for overcoming ‘knowledge myopia’. Also allow for ‘project time’ to ensure depth of understanding. (See blog ‘Mea culpa’). Routine practice is critical in building strong myelinated neural pathways across the brain function areas to ensure a broad development of capability. This is the goal behind the MEganize approach.
Be conscious about creating a structure of positive habits and attitudes. Although this is a general focus, specifically ensure that you apply the ‘growth’ mindset that emphasizes work done and output. Make sure that ‘recognition’ is limited to work done and avoid overindulgence in praise of talent. This has been proven to be a highly leveraged area (Dweck’s Mindset). Never limit your child’s capabilities in his mind. Stretch, encourage, facilitate. This is the new ‘coaching’ paradigm that empowers a child to perform. Read MEganize and other MEgablogs for more insights into this.
Planting ideas and concepts
Ensure that you are clear about what ideas and concepts the child is exposed to. Most importantly be sure to introduce all sorts of learning ideas in reading time. A Children’s Encyclopedia is probably the best source for this and will cover many aspects that the child can begin to experience. As always there are two sides to a coin. Avoid anything that is unvirtuous or senseless. Commit to the important. Also beware of obsession areas and ensure balance in activities. MEganize explains this in more detail.
This then is the proposed Pre-School Program split into specific functional areas. The 3-4 year old program should lead up to this set of 5 year-old activities.
|Development area||Activities||Active Repetition is key! Let them do it.|
|Values||Learn the 3,4,5 Life Maxims||Read Bible stories and pray|
|See ‘affirmations’ in MEganize||(Recommend: The Action Bible – D.Cook)|
|Music (Transposition)||Sing a few worship songs||Perform a few fun, dance songs|
|Eg: Jesus loves me, Carols||Eg: Duck song *|
|Language (Translation)||Learn ABC’s, phonics, reading||Learn other languages (basics only). See my 1-pager|
|(Use starfall.com)||Watch Muzzy DVD’s, Cram games, Use common phrases repetitively|
|Memory||Learn core facts (Geog, Science)||Learn 2 basic memory techniques. It’s fun!|
|(Sheppardsoftware.com)||Skeleton, 50 states, Table of elements etc.|
|Logic||Work on following instructions||Work on solving a two or three problems repetitively. Focus on the process!
|(Origami, Tower of Hanoi)||Puzzles, numbers, basic addition subtraction (1-20)|
|Creativity||Learn to draw using a process||Experiment with painting. Abstract process.|
|(Draw, write now series)||Watch a few Bob Ross lessons. Try to copy him. Learn his process.|
|Coordination||Writing, catching, throwing||Skipping, dancing, clapping|
|*(see youtube ‘Drakensberg boys choir’ for some ideas)|
Parental involvement is paramount. Common values and culture should be reached as far as possible to minimize confusion in a child’s mind. If the Pre-school follows the MEganize program, then a yearly presentation to outline the principles and process used would be invaluable to parents. Most parents have no real path (or training) to follow so this would be a wonderful service to lay a foundation for parenting. There are activities that should synchronize with pre-school. If the structural emphasis remains similar, parents and teachers can offer the child a consistent inclusive learning environment. Parents should try to include some/all of these activities:
|Values||Say prayers at bedtime||Use same 3,4,5 values to direct behavior|
|Music||Learn piano/recorder etc||(Try Piano Wizard)|
|Language||Read stories, kids encyclopedias||(Muzzy DVD’s)|
|Memory||Play memory games||Develop photo/image memory with picture repetition.|
|Logic||Minecraft, leap-pad games (edu)||Puzzles, etc (Sheppardsoftware.com) ‘Trouble’ game|
|Creativity||Minecraft or similar||Make things. Create something from nothing.|
|Coordination||Xbox Connect sports||Taekwondo (at 5), soccer, pickleball, etc.|
MEganize offers an integrated approach to revitalize our education using best principles and practice. Extensive research into multi-disciplinary scientific programs corroborated by hard evidence have been incorporated into this optimal structure for learning. This is the best educational approach for the challenges of the 21st Century.